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It is a journey. It has always been a journey. And not just any journey, but a pilgrimage, a long odyssey toward a sacred place.

Paper cut design by Sue Codee

Paper cut design by Sue Codee

Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage,
As they pass through the Valley of Baka [valley of tears],
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion [dwelling place]. [Psalm 84:5-7, NIV 1984]

In YouVersion notes, the valley of Baka is explained this way: “It was nearly impossible to travel this valley without facing extreme hardship and suffering. That is why the Valley of Baca was named because it literally means “Valley of Tears”. Those who traveled this valley did not find relief until they reached their final destination.”

This is the way of the journey we have agreed to take as followers and believers. We can try to avoid this valley, but dangers abound whether we go through the Valley or around it. For this reason, we are encouraged to go slowly, from strength to strength (and not our own, but God’s) so that tears can be transformed into pools of living water.

My own heart complains of the way still. I know why: I keep trying to travel in my own strength. Like a three year old, I keep demanding to do it myself. Me, me, me. But that’s not the plan at all. And until I surrender and trust God to take care of me in this valley, I will slow my own progress forward.

This truth remains, again and again, I say: it is the paradox of our faith. Die to live; let go to hold; love to repay evil; give to receive.

This is the pilgrimage of the heart.

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