Monday, August 19, 2013

Pilgrim's Progress

At the suggestion of several incredible and godly people, today I went on a hike for several hours to be by myself and seek God. Although I didn't get an audible answer as to what I should do, it was an incredible time. The entire hike could be paralleled  to the book, Pilgrim's Progress. 

My journey starts in Vanity Fair...aka T.J.Maxx. Now I'm not saying you have to ban this store, it really is one of my favorite places to shop, but today, it served as a distraction from my main purpose of the day. As I drove towards Paris Mountain, I found myself with a real unwillingness to do what I planned to do. Instead I had a sudden desire to go shopping.

After pulling myself away from the store(sadly over an hour later) I finally made it to the wicket gate (or to the entrance of Paris Mountain State Park), but I was in despair, I thought I would never be able to enter the gate, because I did not have any cash with me to pay the $2 entrance fee! After scrounging my purse, glove compartment and floor of my car, I came up with enough change to get in.

The road was windy and steep, but by the time I got to the top, I was so thankful to be in such a beautiful place and was ready to start my hike.

I set off, like Christian in the story, carrying a burden I didn't even realize I held. I strayed off the main path at one point, thinking that it would lead me to another trail I wanted to take, but then discovered that it was no more than a dead end. Just like everything else I had tried to do on my own in my life, without Christ leading me, they come to a dead end. When I got back to the main trail, I stopped to make an Ebenezer.

" Here I lay my Ebenezer,
hither by thy help I've come..."

***Side Note***
*Webster's Dictionary describes an Ebenezer eb-e-ne-zer is a commemoration of divine assistance. Lit. "Stone of Help"
* In the Bible, Samuel made an ebenezer as a remembrance of God's help in defeating the Philistines at Mizpah(1. Samuel 7:12)

I knew I could not go on any further, without laying my burden before the feet of God. So, with every stone I placed I surrendered to God the things that I had been holding onto. My hopes for the future, my desire to go to Nigeria, my fears, anger, desires, etc. Well, needless to say, it was a rather large stack by the time I was done.

 " Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." -Matt 11:28-30

While I hiked, I prayed, sang hymns, and at times just stopped to be still. When it started to rain, the song "Grace like Rain" came into my head, so I sang it out loud.

After times of beautiful worship, my mind would wander, or gnats would get in my eyes and  I got tangled in spiders webs, thinking I had gotten rid of the web, only to find spiders in my hair.

At one point, I thought I had jumped to avoid the "quagmire" only to find my foot stuck 4 inches deep in dark mud.

"As a dear panteth for the waters so my soul longeth after thee" -ps. 42:1 I hiked until I reached an isolated lake and dove in. I felt completely and utterly free as I dove into the cold waters, stripped all my fears, feeling exposed, but knowing that there was no one around but me and God. As I got out of the water I felt completely elated and cleansed, and for the first time in a long time, like nothing was burdening me, because I had been washed clean.

Sometimes nothing says it like the Spirituals:

"Are you washed in the Blood?"

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour"
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside your garments that are stained with sin
And be washed in the blood of the lamb.
There's a fountain flowing for the soul unclean.
O, be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

I must apologize for the length of this post, but if you actually made it this far, I congratulate you, and have to make an apology at the same time. This whole "blogging" thing is new to me, and to be honest, I've always avoided it because it seems self-centered, then here I go writing all about myself. My intent is not to be all about me and my life, but to give all the glory and honor to the God of my salvation.

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