the story room

Friday, May 26, 2006

A pilgrim still

Well, it's official: I am now a college graduate.

About this time last week I had just finished up all my packing. The dorm room I lived in this past year had truly become home to me and my roommate, and it was also a place of warmth and welcome for friends who wanted a place to retreat.

This made for a stark contrast, then, when it came to packing everything up. As I sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by boxes and sorting through the last of my things, I couldn't help but think about my time at the beginning of that year, surrounded by boxes again, only that time unpacking and getting settled.

Unpacking in August was an experience that made an impression on me that stayed with me all year (see August 25 entry). As I sorted through my things and threw away what didn't need, I thought about what it means to belong to a God who calls us sometimes to live as pilgrims. Reflecting on that experience, I wrote this:

"And there in my room, I found myself facing the God who bids me come and follow Him, and I also found myself acutely aware of my need to trust Him. I hear His call to surrender everything I hold dear, knowing that He will give me a load to carry, but that it will be light -- maybe even lighter than I'd like it to be. But I trust that He will give me what I need, and that my loose grip on things I love too much will enable me to get up quickly and follow Him on this long (and often uncertain) road with endurance and strength.

"Because the truth of it is that as much as this world is indeed my home, I've never been truly settled, and I probably won't be until Jesus finishes His work and makes everything right. So my task is not to sink my roots anywhere so deeply that I'll die if I ever come uprooted; my task is to follow my God wherever He tells me to go and to do anything He tells me to do. And like Abraham and his pilgrim children, though I can't see very far ahead, I will travel light and will set up camp anywhere He tells me to. What else can I do but follow this God, and trust that wherever I pitch my tent, I will be dwelling in my Father's house?"

When I wrote that entry in August, it was written with a resolute but heavy heart; I didn't want to leave. I look back on those words now, and I know a deeper joy. I am still a little scared about moving away in August and starting a new life in an unfamiliar place, but I see my Father's goodness in the past, and I know that he won't abandon me now. Whatever else will come, that pilgrim God will be with me.

There are times in the Bible when God tells someone, "Go to this place, and I will show you what to do when you get there." I don't know how he spoke to them or how they recognized his voice, but I can't help but wonder if this unshakable sense that I'm headed in the right direction is a feeling that God's people of long ago would have been familiar with.

And I wonder what wonders I'll see when I go.