Sometimes we travel through desert seasons in our lives — seasons where we feel the heavens are brass, God isn’t listening (and certainly in not answering!), and our provisions are becoming increasingly depleted. We wonder what happened to our initial sense of adventure. In fact, whatever became of our vision? Will we perish in the dry, desolate, silent space?
God’s Word describes this very predicament: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” (Psalm 84:5-7)
It is interesting that God promises blessings to the one whose heart is fixed on pilgrimage, on continuing the journey, no matter how desolate the circumstances in which he finds himself. That person is determined NOT to stand still and feel sorry for himself, but instead to press on through the Valley of Weeping (Baca in Hebrew), to continue his journey through the difficult straits of life. Somehow, in the process of moving forward in the dry, sorrowful places of life, water ultimately springs forth in that wilderness. Rain begins to fall and covers the dry ground with pools (the same word for blessings in Hebrew). God brings life out of the barren, dry places of our lives if we purpose to move forward through them.
Luke corroborates the principle of pilgrimage when he relates the story of an encounter ten lepers had with Jesus: “As He went on His way to Jerusalem, it occurred that [Jesus] was passing [along the border] between Samaria and Galilee. And as He was going into one village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance. And they raised up their voices and called, ‘Jesus, Master, take pity and have mercy on us!’ And when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go [at once] and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cured and made clean.” (Luke 17:11-14 AMPC)
Sometimes, Jesus heals people instantly. At other times, healing is a process. More often than not, we are healed when we purpose to move forward in our inadequacy on the path set before us. Pilgrimage is a journey with a purpose, often to a new, unfamiliar place. When we set our hearts on pilgrimage, despite our weaknesses and inadequacies, even infirmities, the Lord brings forth springs of refreshing and blessing, even in the midst of those infirmities. We are often healed in the going, regardless of how lame or halting we feel. He meets us in the process of moving forward in the face of lack.
Can I dictate to the Lord how and when He heals me or meets my need? No! He is God, and I am certainly aware that I am powerless to change myself. However, as I obey Him in the process of pilgrimage, often not understanding even when I will reach my destination (moving stolidly, even with baby steps, toward Him), He heals me and brings forth life in the wilderness places of my heart.
Father, empower me to keep putting one foot in front of the other! Strengthen me to move forward on this relentlessly challenging path and trust You to speak life to my personal wilderness. You will bring forth streams in the desert and will heal my heart “in the going.”