“One who travels to a sacred place for religious reasons.”
Yet so many of us seem lost. I cannot tell you how many great and godly leaders I have sat down with in a coffee shop and listened to their lost-ness, their questions of: What’s happening? What am I doing? Why am I here? What’s next? What’s the plan?
And this crisis of fate is a problem.
Why? Because we are made in the image of God. And why are we made in the image of God? So we can help othersimagine God.
I find that inspiring.
But I also find it awkward.
I am concerned that a fragmented, disjointed life may offer up an image of a flaky, dysfunctional God. One who is unsure what to do with us. One who toys with us in a lifelong game of spiritual hide and seek. That is not the image of God I want my life to project, and although I may not have all the answers to my colleagues’ questions, I do have an inkling of a pilgrim’s process. It is a process that starts with a better question than the ones we usually ask.
In order to share this question with you, however, let me ask you another. If we are to live by faith and not by fate, then where is this sacred ‘place’ that we are supposed to be heading?
Perhaps there is a clue in the journey of the first pilgrim in God’s story.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
Abram’s expedition was the first religious pilgrimage.
Among the places he went was Salem, the future site of Jerusalem. Abram’s journey reminds me of a medieval map that was created for the early Christians journeying to the Holy Land. It shows four circles, one at the center and the other three fanned out around it. The center circle represents Jerusalem, and the other three display Europe, Africa, and Asia.
It exhibits the mistake we make on our own pilgrimage.
Symbolically, it depicts the idea that the search for God is a place, a target, a geographical bullseye that we must endeavor to reach. Maybe this concept is what causes us to ask the weak question:
“Lord, where should I go?”
Or the common question:
“Lord, what should I do?”
Or the only slightly better question:
“Lord, to whom should I go?”
Is the reason we get such a poor response because it is difficult to give a good answer to a bad question?
I am convinced that the secret to the better question can be found in Abram’s call.
“No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.”
God attached an initial from the divine name ‘YHWH’ to ‘Abram,’ making ‘Abraham’.
That is significant!
By doing that, God was telling us something. Abraham’s pilgrimage was intended to bind him to God. More specifically, it was intended to bind him to God’s purposes. As he journeyed, the Father’s dream would become his dream. God was not simply directing him to a geographical place, but through the journey, Abraham would begin to think, feel, and believe what God thinks, feels, and believes.
This is also where you are heading.
You see, there are better answers waiting for those who ask the better questions. There is a question that will lead to a better answer from God, because it is in line with the purpose of any pilgrimage to which He calls us.
So here is that better question:
What is the most effective thing I could do for God’s Kingdom?
This is the question I challenge people to ask when I bubble them. It is a question that has transformed the way I find God’s will. It is the question we will explore throughout this book. It is also a question with a twist…
Ironically, as we seek first the Kingdom of God, something very strange happens. In Hebrew the words God used when He told Abram to leave were:
This Hebrew phrase literally means ‘go,’ but more specifically implies ‘go to yourself.’ Therefore, as one old rabbi observed in the Middle Ages, the Lord was saying:
“You will gain from the journey. Lekha, to yourself, will be the benefit.”
Seek first God’s Kingdom, and you will stumble across your true self.