A pilgrimage intimates a spiritual journey with the hope of an ultimate destination. Jesus’ family had a special experience on their annual spiritual journey to the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, when Jesus was twelve years old. On their return trip Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus was missing. Finding Him in the midst of the teachers in the temple Mary says to Him, “…your father and I have sought you anxiously.” Jesus responds, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” – Luke 2:41-52. This marked the beginning of Jesus’ independent spiritual journey. For Christians, this sojourn on earth encompasses physical and mental spiritual journeys, in search of and serving God. Husbands and wives have challenges following their individual paths, while navigating the collective journey of the family and parents often wonder how to keep their children’s focus on God while facilitating them in taking their own journeys.
The Couple’s Journey
The people of God have always had one destination at heart; the kingdom of God. This is not so much a place but having God’s kingship and authority in our lives. With this common objective, the God centered family unit provides spiritual structure on this pilgrimage. This journey through life can be difficult, we sometimes fall: into temptations, out of love, and for the things of the world etc. Husbands and wives must be prepared to provide the opportunity and means to uplift and to keep each other focused on this destination. “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage” – Psalm 84:5. For couples, careers, personal health and fulfilling lives can be accomplished with each supporting the other’s journey. We were all created with unique qualities. One of the miracles of God is bringing together two persons complementing each other, as two mutually important journeys progress in unity. “Love flows through a marriage that lives up to mutual responsibility” – 1 Corinthians 13:5a.
The Child’s Own Journey
Parents are entrusted to nurture their children to mature independent adults. Even as Jesus’ family traveled to Jerusalem, Jesus began to veer onto his own path. In the family, the duty of mothers and fathers is to teach children to take the momentum of the family’s pursuit of God into their own lives and families. This lesson to children is best taught by parents first living the lesson. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6. As our children grow older their individual journeys will unravel from the cord of the family. As a blessing to our children we should guide them, then let them go, having the confidence that they will find the path God has already chosen for them, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come” – Hebrew 11:20.
The family is the best environment in which to nurture the collective and individual relationships that all Christians need with God, our father. This pilgrimage is one of traveling to the same destination, though with different experiences. On reflection, the family pilgrimage is like a cord wound from individual strings strengthened with one purpose and enriched by the sum of the individual experiences on this journey.
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~ Garfield Miller, Missions Coordinator, Jamaica