All along my pilgrim journey, I want Jesus to walk with me – Lyrics to Negro Spiritual
I recently heard a story listening to News Headlines on Stitcher about reporter Paul Salopek’s ambitious plan to walk around the world in seven years. Interestingly, he’s calling his endeavor, “Out of Eden” in which he will retrace the steps of what many scientists believe to have been the migration path of early man. Salopek will begin his journey in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia and plans to conclude his trek in Tierra del Fuego, off the southernmost tip of South America. He will be carrying little more than a backpack with a lightweight Apple laptop, a satellite phone and camping gear. He will at various times be traveling with translators. Salopek is married, but his wife not accompanying him on his trek. She will be visiting him from time to time. The reporter’s journey will take him through areas that are current Middle East hot spots. Who knows what currently peaceful areas might prove to be volatile by the time Salopek arrives there? Although he estimates his walk will take seven years, he’s only planning a year in advance, due to future uncertainty. Salopek mused whether or not to even pack his house keys.
Upon hearing of Salopek’s ambitious plans I was immediately fascinated, but not ready to follow in his footsteps. He’s really venturing out of faith, I thought, uncertain as to who or what he might encounter on his journey The next thought that entered my mind was that how did I know my journey through life over the next seven would be any less than adventurous than Salopek”s? My life at present seems routine by comparison, but who knows when the routine might be interrupted? My life has been interrupted in the past by good and bad fortune alike. It’s unlikely I’ll transverse as much of the earth as the reporter does, but that’s not to say my life (or yours) won’t be as adventuresome. Lack of extensive travel does not necessarily mean a life devoid of adventure. Except for a trip to Egypt as a child, scripture does not record Jesus ever leaving Palestine, an area smaller in size than the state of New Jersey, yet even non-Christians acknowledge his significant impact on the world.
Who knows what experiences you or I will encounter in our own little pieces of the world? Truth is, I don’t and neither do you. We make plans, and it’s good to plan, but our plans don’t come with a guarantee attached (James 4:13-15). As the saying goes, “man plans and God laughs.”
During our lives we experience joys that rival scenic vistas, beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks and lush tropical rain forests. We encounter sorrows that seem like inhospitable deserts and barren tundras. Yet no matter where our walk in life takes us, if we are followers of Christ, we never walk alone.
David reminds us, “I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me” (Psalm 139:7-10)(NIV).
That includes Ethiopia, Tierra del Fuego and all points in between.