When I think of a pilgrimage, I immediately imagine a scene from Ben Hur. Roman gladiators, monks in brown robes, and weary, warn travelers in a never-ending procession to a holy site.
Over the years, my picture has evolved. Pilgrims can be modern travelers, making their way along ancient paths. But the image always included hundreds of miles on foot.
Now, I realize that pilgrimages can take many miles or none at all. So what makes a pilgrim different than a tourist? And what is the difference between a vacation and a honeymoon?
It is the intention of the journey. A pilgrimage, in many ways, is a lot like a honeymoon.
Whether it is the first or second (or more), the similarities are astounding. It makes sense. Jesus is our Bridegroom and the Church is his bride.
If you Google search “second honeymoon,” you will get many lists of why they are important. As I read through them with the pilgrimage perspective, the parallels were obvious.
8 reasons to take a second honeymoon – or a pilgrimage:
To take a break from the distractions of daily life.
Life gets busy. We all know how easy it is to take your Beloved for granted. Taking a journey out of your usual surroundings helps you focus on the relationship. Often, when we long to set time aside to focus on our relationship with the Lord, things come up and vie for our attention. Taking a trip is a good way to limit those distractions.
2. To increase intimacy.
Like a honeymoon, spending time with your Beloved helps you focus on intimacy building. Strengthening your intimacy with the Lord is spelled T-I-M-E. Away from the distractions, you can seek the Lord in ways that only happen when he is all you need to pay attention to.
3. To remember why you got married.
Returning to our first Love is so important in growing our relationship with Jesus. Just like any human relationship, we build a history – ups and downs – with the Lord. The down is when I’m not listening to his direction and I get myself into trouble. I get hurt and pull back. Or perhaps I’ve been through things that left me feeling confused or disappointed. These dynamics are normal but don’t go away on their own. Taking a pilgrimage can help you remember the sweetness of the Lord, and how much you are loved by him. While you have time alone together, the Holy Spirit can minister to your heart and you can talk through things that have been coming between the two of you.
4. For your kids.
Taking a second honeymoon is important when your relationship has produced children. Kids watch closely and derive their security by how bonded their parents are to one another. Your spiritual kids are no different. When those you lead see you taking the time to intentionally get away with the Lord, they feel more secure. They are also more likely to follow your example.
5. To work on your problems.
Every relationship needs work. It’s way too easy to sweep problems under the rug, hoping they won’t matter. If you have any emotional walls, be assured that the Holy Spirit wants to work on them with you. He is a gentleman and waits until you are ready. A pilgrimage is a perfect time to tackle spiritual issues.
6. To learn something new about each other.
Even couples that have that have been married for decades can learn new things about each other – if they look for it. How much more does the Lord, God of the universe, have to reveal to us when we intentionally ask to be shown. We can never know everything about God, but God is One who can be known. He delights in opening our hearts and minds to new ways of understanding.
7. For the pure fun of it!
Taking a honeymoon to a destination you’ve always wanted to visit is exhilarating. A pilgrimage can be just as exciting. There is so much of God’s world to explore. There is so much joy in discovering the world beyond our own borders. God made us to seek. He delights in showing up in unfamiliar ways.
8. To start a new chapter.
Many second honeymoons happen when there is a shift in life’s circumstances; empty nest, retirement, before grandchildren. Pilgrimages are a great way to seek the Lord in changing seasons. Perhaps one ministry has run its course and a new one is beginning. Laying the spiritual foundation as a pilgrim will make your transition exciting. Maybe you don’t know what the next season will bring and want dedicated time to seek the Lord’s direction for your future.
God’s people all over the world have answered to call to a pilgrimage adventure. For centuries, in almost every culture, pilgrimage is part of one’s spiritual maturity.
So am I taking this analogy too far?
Have you read Song of Solomon? The references are as intimate as they can get. The Lord desires nothing more than to have your full attention, that you may know him as clearly as he knows you. It will take a lifetime to accomplish, but a pilgrimage will take you farther down the road than anything else.
If you are hearing the call to adventure to your own pilgrimage, make sure you sign up for my next trip updates! This may be just what you are looking for.
A fellow blushing Bride of Christ,