Pilgrim Hearts

Pilgrim Hearts

Here we are, in February, and I think I finished the song that I started over a year ago, about Genesis. Last year, in BSF, I studied Genesis, and I knew I wanted to write a song encapsulating the main idea that I felt kept coming up for me through that study. Well, at least chapters 12-50 of Genesis seem to have the following theme: the patriarchs were promised big promises that they saw fulfilled in part, but still had to trust that God was going to bring the full outcome later, whether in their lifetimes or not. That seems to be our story sometimes, too. Although, the promises God promises us don’t look quite the same as theirs, the idea that we don’t just immediately receive all of them remains true. And, even though we have in some sense a greater gift, the Holy Spirit, we still have to watch, wait, and work with Him as He sanctifies us.

But, as I was pondering these reflections about Genesis, we studied the last few chapters, where Jacob leaves the promise land to go down to Egypt. He knows his family will return to inherit the promise land, but he certainly has been through a lot of hardship. When he talks with Pharaoh (ch 47), he says, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been difficult and few and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” The song then had a focus: trusting God is like being on a pilgrimage.

Several months later, after writing the first verse and a few lines of the next, I was ready through some well known psalms to prepare for worship leading. Psalm 84, usually known for its opening lines (“how lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord Almighty. My soul longs, even faints, for the courts of the Lord”) provided some awesome verses I had never pondered before. Psalm 84:5 says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” I thought this was such a related thought. We need to not have our eyes set simply on the end result, or the promise (although we can be sure it will be fulfilled, since our God is faithful). We need to have our sights set on the journey itself. Because in it God shows up, He walks with us, He teaches us how to live, He begins to open our eyes to the parts of the promise already happening.

I pondered those thoughts for several months. Different pieces of the song were kind of coming together, but it felt a little disjointed. Finally, I knew I had all the pieces, but the chorus kept evading me. I wanted to use the line “hearts set on pilgrimage” because I loved it so much, but I didn’t know how. I would take that line out, bring it back, not have anything to put with it. Just a few weeks ago, the near rhyme came to me:

“Because hearts set on pilgrimage

Find our God is who He says He is

He’s not far; He’s not a destination”

Well, they didn’t come to me just like that, but after a little help from some good songwriting friends, the syllables settled into that. The last line I penned was “He’s not a destination.” That has become the line that almost everyone points out as being the most helpful and profound. And, God dropped it in my lap right at the end. I’m so thankful for that!

So, the writing of this song ended up being a lot like a pilgrimage in a dry season, but I’m so thankful. Here is “Pilgrim Hearts”

Pilgrim Hearts

Here we are just like Abraham and Isaac/Just like Jacob and his sons, oh, here we are/Taking a lifetime to understand a promise /And to learn how to respond with pilgrim hearts

Here we are, just like Abraham in Canaan counting the stars/When the the night sky foretells of greater blessing/Than we have yet to see with our own eyes/We believe our God and walk in stride

Because hearts set on pilgrimage/Find our God is who He says He is/He’s not far/He’s not a destination/He is the very strength within/The hearts set on pilgrimage

Here we are, just like Abraham and Isaac/At the base of Mount Moriah looking up/When we don’t know if we can even pass the test/We will declare the journey is not done/To give in full abandon what He asks of us

Because hearts set on pilgrimage/Find our God is who He says He is/He’s not far/He’s not a destination/He is the very strength within/The hearts set on pilgrimage

Here we are now like Jacob bowing down to Pharaoh/In a foreign land beyond what we thought that God had planned/But, there is more of this God to know /And there is still time to follow

Because hearts set on pilgrimage/Find our God’s who He says He is/He’s not a destination/He is the very strength within/The hearts who seek Him/Our God, ever Present with/The hearts set on pilgrimage

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