Monday, January 18, 2010

Why write about my pilgrimage?

This week's post harvests some of the content from the proposal I sent to my Upper Room Books editor, back at the beginning stages of this book. I was trying to lay out a general sense of direction, and clarify (for myself) exactly what I wanted to say; I was trying to convince the publication team to invest in a new idea, Those of you who have already started read might find it interesting to consider how far I eventually strayed off-message (if at all). And those of you wondering if this is the right book to read at this point in your journey will - hopefully - be inspired to take a look.

We are travelers on a spiritual journey... and our path is very seldom predictable, or a straight line with certain guaranteed, easy to follow, or “bullet point” results. “Not that I have already obtained all this…” Paul says in Philippians 3, “…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

"The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian" is part memoir and part collection of essays. My personal pilgrimage – as a regular Christian seeking to understand exactly what it means to follow Jesus in the day-to-day – works as the backdrop for a chapter by chapter exploration of real life themes; themes designed to bring biblical truths into sharp focus and practical clarity.

o Pilgrimage that means learning to listen. To listen at 6:30 AM when I’m walking my wife’s dog, Scout - and God works into my consciousness along with the rising sun; to listen in the grocery store line when a casual acquaintance opens her heart to the things of the spirit; to listen in traffic when I would rather pay attention to the distractions.

o How did God reach into my car to lift me up when I was sitting at that stop light in rush-hour traffic? Even though I was overwhelmed by pressure at work, choked by toxic fumes from the rusty 1985 Monte Carlo beside me, and assaulted by “The Fat Boys Live” at 250 decibels thanks to the SUV on my left.

o What has 18 years working with emotionally disturbed children taught me about God’s unreserved love? How have committed Christian friendships drawn me closer to Jesus? Why do I get stuck so often in my spiritual journey? How does the Holy Spirit break through?

o What is it about spiritual journaling that steers me so unerringly through my often routine day-to-day? Why am I always lifted up so powerfully when I hear the stories of other pilgrims, and when I’m invited to share in their journey? How is it that God knows me so well, and leads me to the exact scriptures I need to hear when I am wise enough to spend time in the Word?

God has the following quality of journey in mind for each unique one of us:

o Incremental... Purposeful

o connected to the heart of our day-to-day

o inexorable... beautiful... real

I am still but a pilgrim, humble in determined progress. God often teaches me through others, and when I am wise I remember to listen.

But this pilgrim path, it seems, is often jarringly at odds with the culture we inhabit. And so we search, carefully, spirits open to catch glimpses of grace. And we study, purposefully, a type of divine woodcraft, learning to identify the footprint of heaven, listening to hear the still small voice, growing accustomed to following the Savior.

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