Here is a Thanksgiving week guest post from my good friend Mitchell Wellman. Enjoy!
Imagine spending 65 days on a boat with nothing but prayer, wind, and a current to determine the destination. With but one trunk to contain everything for their entire family they surely have left behind some things that were once called valuable. Near death, little food left, sickness ravaging their bodies and finally off in the distance they saw a glimmer of green on the horizon. Land! This wasn’t just any land but it is the promised land of freedom! This was the very thing they sacrificed everything for and finally it was within their grasp. 41 seeking religious freedom, 61 seeking to stake claim to prominence and 30 hired sailors, had made a trip thought by many to be impossible.
Quickly the excitement dwindled as a harsh winter wind began to blow and sickness swept through the group of settlers. By spring nearly half were dead, failing to get the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of their labor. So it was that the first celebration of a thanksgiving feast on American soil was celebrated in the shadow of 40 shallow graves only a few hundred feet away.
These though were not the first pilgrims; that distinction is given in scripture to a group of great heroes in the 11th chapter of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
I encourage you to read this chapter- these all includes Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gedeon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, David, Samuel and the prophets. The promises that they didn’t receive didn’t hinder their faith, but it was the substance of it. It was who they looked unto- yes, notice I said who and not what- they were looking unto the promise of a coming king who would break the curse of sin! Make note that Able, Enoch, and Noah were before Abraham’s promise of a descendant. Their promise was that of one who would restore fellowship between man and God. To those following Abraham was given the promise of a descendant- not a lineage as we often think;
Galatians 3:16 “Now, God made his promises to Abraham and to his descendant. The scripture does not use the plural “descendants,” meaning many people, but the singular “descendant,” meaning one person only, namely, Christ.” (TEV)
It is so that not only did these die without receiving the promise, but the evidence in their faith is that they saw Him afar off and were persuaded of Him. They were so convinced of the validity of the promise that they embraced it; even though it was afar off; as if it were within close reach! Because of this faith they were able to declare themselves Strangers- i.e. no longer citizens of, and Pilgrims- temporary, or sojourners through this world.
I want first pilgrim faith! I want to realize the temporal nature of my life and declare the promises of God are within my reach as I focus my attentions to the promise of a soon coming Jesus!
Start a journey, BE A PILGRIM!