Tuesday, December 21, 2010


“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” – Psalm 84:5


                In his latter years, John Wayne made a lot of self-exalting movies.  The theme was always the same, he had conquered the West, and his reputation preceded him wherever he went.  McLintock, Big Jake, El Dorado, and Chisum are just a few of the examples.  One scene has always stuck in my mind.  It is a scene, both at the beginning and end of the movie, in Chisum where he is overlooking the great conquest of his life.  He sits atop his horse, high up on a hillside, and gazes at the panorama of his conquest.  The image is that of the self-made conqueror with the world at his feet.  It reminds me of the fateful day when Nebuchadnezzar stood on the walls of Babylon and said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”   


                We all know that Nebuchadnezzar was eating grass with the cattle by nightfall.  But in reality, John Wayne did fare much better.  He was a failure in finance, a failure in marriage, failure as a father, and in the end, could not conquer cancer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love John Wayne movies.  But I love them because he was a powerful figure that secretly we all admire.  And you see, that is the very foundation of what is wrong in our families, our churches, in our land, and certainly in our own heart.  I think if the average American Christian were to write the 84th Psalm, it would read something like, “Blessed are those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, who have set their hearts on self-fulfillment.”  And that is the core reason we are losing our blessing.


                Scripture tells us that “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  In order to soften the blow of this text, most churches today interpret fear here as “to hold in awe.”  But don’t make that mistake.  To fear means to “anticipate harm.”  In C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, comes the famous quote of the beaver to the little girl concerning Christ, “He is not mean, but He is very dangerous.”  How true this is.  Nuclear power is not mean, but it is very dangerous.  And if we don’t fear it, respect it, it can kill us.  The beginning of wisdom is understanding that God is not mean but that He is very dangerous.  And real wisdom begins when that fact becomes a reality in our lives.  For it is then that we set our hearts on a pilgrimage to find Him.


                You see, when our strength becomes God, we become blessed.  And we find that strength in our pilgrimage towards Him and His kingdom.   That comes from the command and promise of Christ. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” is the command, and the promise is, “all things will be added unto you.”  You see when we seek our own way, our own self-fulfillment, our own lusts, we will never be satisfied.  I suspect, Chisum was really looking out across the panorama of his conquest thinking “I need more land.”  In reality, self-fulfillment has no boundaries of accomplishment.  Each step is accompanied by a lust for more.  And satisfying that lust can ultimately lead only to self-destruction.

                 But blessed is the person whose strength is in Christ, who sets out a pilgrimage to His kingdom and His righteousness.  That person will find in the pilgrimage a new strength day by day.  Instead of experiencing a lust for more and more (which can never be satisfied), we find contentment with what we have, and joy in who we are.  And the blessing becomes Christ Himself who sustains us in the finances, marital difficulties, and even diseases.  And here is the good part.  The character Chisum would have never been satisfied with an Omnipotent and Almighty God, but for those who seek God daily will find that the pilgrimage is rewarded in an eternal presence with Him.  We learn that He indeed is our bread, our spring of living water, the air we breathe, and our daily strength in life.  “Blessed are those who strength is [not in themselves] in God, who heart is set on [not self-fulfillment which can never be achieved] pilgrimage [which is the daily journey towards Him].”

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455

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