Select Wisdom Brand

A Tale of Two Pilgrims

Numbers 33:55
“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.”

This is the critical dichotomy that distinguishes pilgrims who love God on the one side and those who love the world on the other. For pilgrims like Caleb, Moses, and Joshua, pilgrims who yearn after the face of God above all else, every little compromise in their walk, every addiction not destroyed, every bitter or envious thought not taken captive by contentment becomes a barb in his eyes that won’t go away without repentance. That’s why a saint stuck in drunkenness or pornography or greed or adultery or bitter envy is the saddest soul on the planet: like a sojourner stranded in a heap of barbed wire, unable to move without cutting himself further. He won’t lie there, bleeding out from the wounds, and laugh exuberantly. He won’t tell you that he’s seeing more clearly than ever before or that he's living his best life now. He won’t call the thorns roses or the barbs garlands for his head. In his eyes you’ll find a wasteland rather than a land flowing with milk and honey. And we know those eyes all too well, don’t we? We’ve seen them staring back at us in the mirror more than we’d like to admit.

But for the worldly pilgrim who’s never desired to seek God’s face at all, who turns away at Sinai when Moses goes further in, who complains every time the going gets tough, who always pines after some illusion of the past, and who follows God’s leading with a shrug and a murmur rather than a trusting spirit, God’s face is a barb in his eyes. The LORD’s abiding presence day after day is the thorn in his side! He’d rather just find some nook of the world where God is absent than inherit the paradise where God abides.

Which sort of pilgrim will you be today, friend? Better said, which will you choose to pursue: the face of God or fleeting worldly pleasures? We’ll answer that over the next twenty-four hours with our actions.