Concerning these articles that I have been writing in this rubric there seems to be a bit of clarification necessary. People have asked me, for example, “Are your parents really dead?’ or “Who is this friend of yours that had that terminal illness?” I am thankful to inform the reader that my parents are very much alive! But the parents of a man named “Pilgrim Watcher” are not, and possibly it is true in the reader’s life that your parents are not either.
You see, these articles and the events or persons that they describe, though written by the undersigned, are not intended to present the events that have happened in my life as such; nor are they intended to describe persons that I know or have met as such. Some are. But some are not. Rather, they are the events that have happened and the persons that have been met by Pilgrim Watcher in whom the reader may to a greater or lesser extent see himself. Hopefully we all, including myself, will see ourselves at least somewhat reflected in Pilgrim Watcher and by that be better equipped to walk with him as a pilgrim and with him watch for the signs of our Lord’s coming.
My name is Pilgrim Watcher. As I wrote earlier, my parents gave me that name when I was born. I sometimes think about my early childhood. My parents lived on a farm. There is something nice about a farmer’s life, that is, a Christian farmer’s life. A Christian farmer lives close to his God. He knows that he is entirely dependent upon God for all things—for rain and sunshine to grow his crops. Not that a Christian factory worker is not dependent on his God. I do not mean to imply that. Certainly a Christian factory worker is also dependent on his God. But what I mean is that a Christian farmer is constantly reminded by the very nature of his occupation just how much he is dependent on his God. There is another thing that is nice about a Christian farmer’s life—the serenity and peace that he experiences! And, in that connection, the fact that he can go off by himself in the field and be alone with his God, apart from the blatant sinfulness and foolish talking and corruption of the wicked.
I miss that! I did not take over the farm when my father died but moved to the city. I took up my labors working in a factory, which, as I already indicated, is certainly not the same as that of a farmer’s life. Not that I am complaining, you understand. I am certainly thankful that I have the work that I do. God has been good to me in providing this means to take care of the needs of my family. But it is not quite the same.
I work from seven o’clock in the morning until about three or four in the afternoon. The factory gives me about a half-hour to eat my lunch. But from the moment that I walk into the factory, I feel like I am in another world: a world that militates against what I consider my life as a pilgrim and a stranger to be. Gone is the peace and serenity! It is replaced by the incessant roar of motors and clanging of machines. I say “Good morning” to the men with whom I work. I wonder about that expression “good morning.” Yes, the morning is good. Every morning that God gives is a good morning. But when I say to my fellow workers, “Good morning,” do they really understand what I mean by that? That it is a good morning because the God of my salvation made it such, and that I experience the fact that it is a good morning by consciously relying upon the goodness of God to keep me and guide me through the morning? The answer is clear to me. They do not! They do not mean the same thing about that expression that I do. And I wonder too about that expression as to the intent behind it. If my intent behind that expression is merely formal then maybe it is not so bad. But if my intent is to wish them a good morning, then it is wrong. How can I wish something upon the wicked that they can not and do not experience?
And it is obvious that they do not experience the goodness-of God in their hearts. Yes, they are given good things by God. Not in His grace, you understand. There is no grace of God for the wicked. Only God’s wrath. But they are given good things, nevertheless. However, they who are given good things by God, are not thankful for them. They complain! They are always grumbling and complaining about this or that or the next thing. Their wages are not high enough, or the working conditions are not good enough. The hours are too short or the hours are too long. They do not obey the Word of God when it says in Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father .m the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And too, they do not use the good things that God gives them to the honor and glory of God. They hold those things under in unrighteousness. They consider the things that God gives them to be their own. Instead of singing, “All that I am I owe to thee,” they live by the motto, “All that I am I owe to me.” They squander the things that they are given. They squander their paycheck on gambling and alcohol and all kinds of other foolish things. They squander their time and talents by not using their time and talents to the best of their ability. They are thieves! Robbers they are of the good things that God has given to them. God says also in Ephesians 5, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.” But they do not do that. They are fools. Fools who say in their heart there is no God. A wise man never says that. A wise man who really experiences the goodness of God in his heart always acknowledges from his heart that God is and that from the hand of God all good things flow.
This bothers me. I weary of all this grumbling and complaining, this squandering of time, this mockery of the God of all glory and goodness. Sometimes I am more weary at the end of the day from observing all of this than I am from working on the assembly line. And it is especially this bold mockery of God that wearies me. Man is called to do one thing in life, namely, live his life to the honor and glory of God. He is to reflect that in every facet of his life, certainly in his speech. The Bible says also in Ephesians 5, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neitherfilthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” But filthy and foolish is their language. It makes me cringe to listen to that day in and day out. It goes contrary to the very depths of my being and existence.
And where do I go to escape all of this? I really can not escape. Even at lunch hour when I try to separate myself from all this, I am confronted with it. I try to find some isolated part of the factory to eat my lunch: some place where I can pray quietly and meditate upon spiritual things. But such places are almost nonexistent, and I sometimes long for the open fields that my father and I used to walk. Always I am within hearing of their foolish talking. And they who know that I do not like it, seem to talk even in such a way that I do hear it. Yes, I have told them on many occasions that their talking is wrong. That I feel was simply my duty before the face of God to tell them this. But it seemed to have no positive effect on them. And when I pray before my meal or read a portion of the Bible, the negative effect that my words had on them really becomes evident, for they look at me as though I am strange.
Yes, I am strange, am I not? That thought strikes home. I am different from all the rest. Not by nature of course. By nature I am no different than they are. By nature I too am not thankful. I too complain and grumble. And what is true of me by nature, I too see so much of in my life. Sometimes I do complain and grumble, and my attitude concerning the good things that God has given me is not at all as it should be. I am ashamed of myself! I pray for forgiveness and grace. Forgiveness for all the many sins and weaknesses that are such a part of my life. Grace to serve and love my God and walk as the child of light that God has made me according to the riches of His grace. I am reminded of the Word of God, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love”; and, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
That is my calling. I am light! By nature darkness, but by grace and through Jesus Christ, light! That makes me different from all the rest. Then in that light I must walk. I must walk as a pilgrim. A pilgrim is a person who has no abiding place here. He walks in the midst of a world which is a dry and thirsty land in which no water is. He can find no place in the midst of the world, as I could find no place in the midst of the factory, where he can be in the absolute sense of the word separated from this wicked world. Even if he finds such a place, he still carries with him his own sinful flesh. But he is a pilgrim nevertheless. As a pilgrim he walks. As a stranger he walks! He is not a part of this world. He is in it, but not of it, as God says, “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” Rather, he is a part of the blessed fellowship and friendship of the light of the ever blessed God.
This comforts me. Yes, I am strange, but if I may put it that way, comfortingly strange, for God has graciously made me that. He has fashioned me unto Himself. His grace and love He makes me share. And that is comfort. With that comfort I labor in my everyday life. It strengthens me to persevere, knowing that when the day comes to an end I can go home. And even more, when my life comes to an end I can really go home to heaven where my home is, to walk as a child of light forever.