Pilgrims in a Strange Land


If you sail in uncharted waters, during storms, with mutinies underway, large rips in the sails, and sharks circling the craft, the outcome can’t be good. After all, you are made of clay, an earthen vessel.

There are those who apparently sail the seas unscathed. We read their biographies and marvel at their heroics, conquering for Jesus throughout their lives. Are these sanitized accounts? We wonder. Is there a thing or two left out? Was their inner thought life as pure as presented?  Were there not battles with the devil that were lost? Who makes the trip without incident anyway?

The Scripture is not so eager to clean up the lives of the saints; after all, why all the admonitions to live a godly and holy life. Right, it is not automatic. We do have David, and we have Peter. There is John Mark whom Paul refused to take with him on the second missionary journey because of a failure on the first. But this is not about excuse making or an invitation to hid behind the failures of others and thereby diminishes or even out right deny personal culpability.

Does not the devil lurk near the door? (see 1 Peter 5:8) Does not Satan wage war against the ‘woman’? (see Genesis 3:15) Is there really spiritual warfare that Christians engage in? If it is not real then the biblical doctrines around the demonic realm would be nothing more than a hoax. No the devil wins some small skirmishes, even some battles, though the final triumph goes to the Conqueror. Still by means of false signs and wonders, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, the devil is a present and powerful enemy.

Should the wounded be left on the field of battle to groan and suffer? Is it right that the shipwrecked be left to fight the raging elements and the sharks in the storm tossed seas — alone? Certainly they made their decisions; they deliberately rebelled and acted out. Shouldn’t they get what they earned!

The Good News is that there is mercy and grace for the believer as well as the non-believer. The Christian, but more, the Christian leader, is often rejected and ignored, unless of course he or she has a national following.

Where are the first-responders? Where are those who do not fear getting their hands soiled and even scarred? Must we really abandon those who have fallen and so avoid guilt by association?  Are there those who will risk being castigated for not rejecting the beaten and robbed pilgrim?

There are such and I have discovered them. They are brave even fearless; they care more about the enemy not having his way with the victims, who are not without guilt certainly, but see a larger good, a life yet to be lived out. They care not if they are called “liberal” or a “partner in crime” and will risk the scorn directed at them. These good Samaritans — I have encountered some few along the journey who saw a fallen comrade battered and bloody. In their eyes they beheld a snap shot in time, which tells only a fraction of the story; they knew there would be more to be told.

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