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Sabbaticalogue Wk. 9 - Feet Prayers

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I’m sitting in a small cafe in the middle of Los Arcos, Spain. Yes, my friends, the journey has begun. For the last part of my sabbatical, I am trekking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. 31 days. 500 miles. And my feet are killing me...after only five days. But I figure that if millions of monks and “regular” people have made this pilgrimage over the past 1,000 years, surely I can, too.

One of the questions we sojourners ask each other when we sit down for the “Pilgrim Meal” at albergues (hostels) all along the way is, “What inspired you to walk the Camino?”

I’ve heard everything from, “I’m trying to figure out what to do next with my life,” to “I just like the challenge of these long hikes.” When people ask what was my motivation, I move quickly past the part of Laura and I watching the Martin Sheen movie, “The Way,” years ago and saying, “Wow. That would be fun.” And I tell people that my motivation was nothing more than wanting to connect more with God on a pilgrimage.

I’m learning that most people don’t know the true meaning of a pilgrimage.  It comes from the Latin word “peregrinus,” which means a person wandering the earth in exile searching for a spiritual homeland. That’s why the first settlers in what became the United States were called pilgrims.

On the Camino, I finished an excellent book that I read years ago, but this go-round has given me much deeper insight. It’s called “Chasing Francis,” and is about a mega-church pastor who experiences burnout (and worse) and travels to Italy to rediscover his faith and calling. In the book, author Ian Cron says, “A pilgrimage is a way of praying with your feet.”  

I can tell you from my short five-day experience, that’s true. It sounds rather obvious, but I hadn’t thought about how much time I would be alone with my thoughts for 7 to 8 hours every day where all I do is walk.

Walking slows down time. You’re not as focused on your destination as you are on the path before you. In other words, walking forces you to be present. 

So what have I been doing while I walk? I pray. I sing. I work on Scripture memory. And I talk to myself. I’ve discovered I’m not a very good conversationalist. Sorry.

But a pilgrimage is a way of praying with your feet, and my feet hurt. I wonder what that says about my prayers? Do I pray so much that I get spiritually fatigued? Not hardly.

Do you know what I pray for as I walk? I pray for you. I pray for Laura, my kids, and extended family. I pray for friends. I offer up prayers of praise, confession, and thanksgiving. And all the while I think my “feet prayers” are changing me as much as anyone else. 

So be it. Tomorrow is Day Six—another 16 miles or so, which means my feet, and my heart will be offering up a lot of prayers.

Buen Camino

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Sabbaticalogue Wk. 8 – Well, That Just Happened

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If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know I have a relatively good sense of humor, but I can pretty quickly slip into my default mode of serious reflection, at least I think so after I reflect on my personality . . . seriously.

So, keep that in mind as I share what happened in a small airport in Temuco, Chile.

Laura and I spent time visiting churches and pastors in the southern part of Chile with our missionary host, and now good friend, Doug Kallestad. We were back at the airport waiting for our flight to Santiago, and it happened to be during the game of Chile vs. Colombia in the Copa America.

If like me, you’re not a big “football” (non-American style) fan, you may not have even heard of the Copa America. But it’s a really big deal. At least in South America.

For those of you who have a few frequent flyer miles, you’ll know that when you walk down the concourses of any major (or minor) airport, if a “big game” is televised (like the recent NBA Finals), there will be a handful of people watching and cheering for their favorite team. But that’s pretty much it.

Laura, Doug (the missionary), and I arrived in the Temuco airport café a little early, and we watched as the Chile/Colombian game started. But within minutes, our table of three grew to tables of three, and then four, eight, and twelve. As people arrived to catch their flight, they immediately moved toward the sound of the game, and our little café was overflowing with Chileans watching their national team compete against the highly-favored Colombians.

Every time the Chilean team got close to scoring, everyone around us began to chant, “Chi, Chi, Chi, le, le, le, viva Chile!!” And that’s when it happened. I got emotional. I was so moved by the unity, comradery, and excitement, that I actually had a few tears form in my eyes. One or two even slipped out down my cheek.

We boarded the plane while the game continued, and when we landed in Santiago, the pilot did his usual, “Welcome to Santiago where the local time is . . . “ and then he said, “And Chile WON!” The whole plane erupted with cheers, laughter, and celebration. I felt like the pilot announced the victory of the Allied forces in W.W. II.

As I sat on the plane and reflected . . . seriously . . . I thought how beautiful it is when people unite around a common cause and express their enthusiasm and joy when victory comes. As Christians, we have the greatest, most significant, victory of all—“Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). But do we shout with joy, shed tears of happiness, and celebrate with enthusiasm (entheos: in God)?

I never realized I could learn such a valuable life lesson from a game of soccer. Seriously.

Let’s heed the words of the 19thcentury preacher, Charles Spurgeon:

It is a mark of Christ’s presence when the church becomes enthusiastic. We sometimes hear complaints about revivals being too exciting. Perhaps the censure is deserved, but I would like to see a little of the fault. This age does not generally sin in the direction of being too excited concerning divine things. We have erred so long on the other side that, perhaps, a little excess in the direction of fervor might not be the worst of all calamities; at any rate, I would not fear to try it.

And speaking of great celebrations. I pray all of you enjoy a special day in American history this week. Happy Fourth of July! It’s great to be home a few days to share this holiday with family and friends.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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