A road trip to Nebraska has been a frequent journey for my husband and me. We have our favorite rest stops where we pull off the interstate every 3 or 4 hours. We may just use the restroom and run around for a few minutes. If it is lunchtime, we will get a bite to eat. Whatever we do, we are refreshed and ready to continue down the road for another few hours.
I find a spiritual message in our road trips. As believers, we may not be traveling concrete highways, but we are traveling spiritual highways and byways to Zion. Psalm 16:11 declares, “You make known to me the path of life.”
As we journey through life, the Lord provides spiritual rest stops – better known as places of refreshing. Our spiritual rest areas may be located in our local church on a Sunday morning or in a home for a small group gathering. Maybe a retreat at a Christian camp will be the rest area of choice. Even conversation with a friend in a coffee spot can be a rejuvenating place. Wherever we stop, our spirit can be fed. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
By car, we travel from New York to Nebraska in 2 long days. Our spiritual journey takes a lifetime. The journey’s length will be different for each of us. For the majority, the travel time will be 70-90 years. That’s a long trip! Most every parent knows the question young children ask when traveling in a car for an extended time. “Are we there yet?” Although God will personally greet us at the final destination, He wants us to enjoy the journey from here to there. That is why we need rest stops.
Ben Armstrong says, “God is in love with process! He is not in a panic and He is not trying to get people to their future too fast without actually allowing them to go through the process that helps them gain strength and momentum. Process gives us the things that are needed to sustain the greatness that God wants in our lives.”
(Michele Weston is the artist.)
Let us look closely at Psalm 84:5-7 as a picture of our journey.
Verse 5, “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” A pilgrimage is a long journey, often leading to a sacred destination. As believers, we are on a lifetime trip. It will culminate with our arrival in the Lord’s presence for eternity. John says in Revelation 21:1-3, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, . . . . I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.’”
Verse 6 goes on to say, “As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs.” Valley of Baca describes a dry, barren place. Since we will experience difficult paths, spiritual rest stops will be helpful. At these spots, we will encounter other brothers and sisters in Christ. We will worship together. We will encourage and refresh each other. According to John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.“
Verse 7 states, “They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” During our pilgrimage, we will help each other grow in the Lord and gain His strength. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, “the joy of the Lord will be our strength.” We never travel alone. The Lord will be with us as well as our fellow sojourners. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
When traveling to the Midwest, we have a specific route we follow. Although we are familiar with the route, we still plug in the GPS. We should take the same precaution spiritually. While on our pilgrimage, let us listen carefully to our spiritual GPS – God’s Provision through the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
We must remember to take breaks while traveling the thruway of life. Times of refreshment will help us stay alert to road traffic. Physically, stops at rest areas help prevent auto accidents. Spiritually, times of refreshing prevent crashes or clashes with the enemy.
Remember, God loves the journey as well as the destination. Travel with the Lord. Isaiah 35:8 says, “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way.”