“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Truly, our journey here is one of agony and ecstasy—the agony of hardships, heartache and sorrow, tempered by the ecstasy of that which awaits us.
“Strangers and pilgrims.”
That’s how the anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews described those who live by faith, not sight. And, as we reflect upon it, we realize it aptly describes who we are on this earth and the nature of our sojourn here.
A stranger is someone who’s away from home. Like a visitor to a new area, he’s unfamiliar with the best restaurants, most efficient bank, location of the utility offices, the car wash, etc. And, it doesn’t take long for the local residents to identify him for what he is: A stranger—particularly if he’s from a foreign culture! As someone once said, “He stands out like a sore thumb!”
And, in reality, that’s really how we come across (or should) to those who hold no citizenship in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). In stark contrast to the world, we talk differently. . .act differently. . . and certainly think different (in views and values). And, even though they may call us “strange,” we know we are simply “strangers in a foreign land.”
Likewise, we are also “Pilgrims on a journey”—traveling toward “yon Celestial City,” as it was called in Pilgrim’s Progress. From the moment we “came to ourselves and arose and went to the Father” (Lk. 15:17-20) we were walking a different Road, headed in a different Direction: Upward. Homeward. And, even though that journey be filled with many “dangers, toils and snares,” like John Newton wrote after his conversion experience, “Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me Home.” Hallelujah!!
Again, part of the agony we experience here is over having “seen the promises afar off (by faith). . .been persuaded of them (and their reality/validity). . .and embraced them (as our own) . . .but not having been able to receive them (i.e., realize them firsthand).”
That’s why we must live by faith, not sight—and that’s why we must “lay aside and every weight that so easily besets us (easily trips us up) as we run with patience the Race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1b-2a). And, even then we must not “grow weary in well-doing and grow faint in our mind” (Gal. 6:9).
Never forget what someone once said: “A vagabond is someone who has no home. A criminal is someone who’s running from home. A stranger is someone who’s away from home. But, a Pilgrim is someone who’s headed toward Home.”
“Where ‘ya headed, Pilgrim??”
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated July 24, 2010