Are you a wanderer, or a pilgrim?

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“Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” 
– Hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

You have probably heard the phrase “All who wander are not lost.” 

But what is the difference between someone who is lost in the desert and a sojourner who is traveling through the desert?    How often as we journey through life are we wanderers?

Sometimes in life, we can get lost.  

The circumstances of our situation, the challenges we face, and the hurdles that we have to overcome can make every moment feel like a deserted wasteland.   The wilderness times we pass through can cause us to become disoriented, to lose sight of our purpose and before we know it – doubt, despair, and discouragement have taken us off our path. 

Too many people find themselves stuck in this emotional and spiritual no man’s land and never reach the fullness of their destiny. 

No one is immune from hard times, and every human being passes through these “wilderness” experiences, so how do we avoid the traps and not get stuck or give up?

I believe there are several keys to not getting lost in the sloughs of life and instead of passing through them and coming out stronger on the other side.

The first key is VISION. 


The wanderer gets lost when they use the landmarks around them to try to navigate out of the situation they are in.  

We have all seen it in the movies when the characters try to find their way out of a desolate place by using the rocks and bushes around them to guide them, and invariably they find themselves right back where they started.  The only way to get out of where we are is to change where we are looking.

The pilgrim knows that to make it through this place of challenge, they need to lift their vision to the heavens.  

As in the natural, the lights in the sky are used to ensure accurate direction, so in our faith journey it is only when we place our focus on our heavenly Father and look to Him, will we be able to maintain our course through the harsh territory that life can sometimes present.

The question to ask is "Where am I looking?"

The second key PERSEVERANCE


The wanderer is often one who has given up.  Like a little dinghy bobbing in the vast ocean, the heart can sometimes feel there is no possible way out, and resignation sets in.  

Sometimes the deadliest foe is not the external dangers of the wilderness, but it is when the flames of faith are untended and unbelief sneaks in to snuff out the remaining embers.  Throughout history, so many adventurers who perished were so close to their goal, but they had given up the will to live and were lost.  When we lose heart we can lose it all. 

The pilgrim sets their heart and will to complete the journey.  They are not swayed by obstacles but are fixed on reaching the destination they have set out for.  Though they encounter the same challenges, they know that beyond the horizon is that which they seek.  

When the winds of difficulty rage around them they choose to bow their head and press forward.  They have made a decision, as long as it takes they are continuing to press forward, because this is a trial they are “passing through,” and what awaits them is worth the struggle.  As we lean into God then we can press on. 

The question to ask is: "What am I believing?" 



Many times the wanderer becomes lost because they are going it alone.  Some start out with bravado and self-assuredness believing that they can cross the wilderness by themselves. Some get separated from the rest of their travelers by relational difficulty or tragedy.

Invariably isolation from others weakens even the strongest and without the companionship and protection of the group, they are left open and vulnerable to attack, delusion and ultimately death.   Often it is when we are alone that we are most likely to wander.

The pilgrim understands that they need others to make it through.  The wilderness is a place that tests everything you are made of, and all weaknesses become highlighted.  The companionship of others lifts flagging spirits, ensures protection, and provides strength when at the lowest place.  

Choosing traveling companions becomes of utmost importance as loyalty and bravery will be tested, but having those who can remind you who you are and where you are going can make all the difference.

The question to ask is: "Who am I surrounding myself with?" 

There is no avoiding the wilderness.  

At some time in our life, our course will lead us through unwanted spaces.

The question is, will we wander aimlessly or will we journey through receiving the transformation that only this season can bring as we lift our vision, let God fill us with perseverance, and surround ourselves with those of like precious faith. 

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

Image Credits:  Photos by Moon, Pavel Barysevich, Tim Foster,, and Mike Erskine on Unsplash