A Pilgrimage of the Heart


24-7 Prayer Scotland team member Bec shares with us her recent reflections on Advent and pilgrimage in the midst of daily family life.

Pilgrimage can seem like a pretty distant concept as we tread water through ordinary and sometimes painful everyday life. Maybe, like me, you’re in the midst of young family years with a home full of little children who seem to enjoy a low level of chaos as they play, chat and giggle.

Or maybe, also like me, even with no distractions from other humans you find your soul can be like a little child, distracted, reluctant to still itself and surrender to God’s spirit and the posture of your heart. Today I want to encourage you with two simple and hopefully accessible thoughts. The first is a gift to your inner self from Colossians 3:2 TPT: ‘Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm.

In our previous blog post, “Becoming Pilgrims”, we were reminded of the sometimes difficult and lengthy nature of pilgrimage. Maybe our greatest and most difficult pilgrimage is that of the heart as, amidst daily life, we choose – yes, choose – to feast on the treasures of the heavenly realm. God invites us to set aside the distractions of “the natural realm” and instead fill our thoughts with heavenly realities.

As we take this journey through Advent in anticipation of His coming to earth in the form of a baby into the normal chaos of family life, let us give our hearts a chance, a moment each day to engage with the feast that God has for us. Advent gifts us an opportunity for our own pilgrimage deeper into His heart as we let His goodness permeate our daily journey.

Secondly, I want to encourage you that often the simplest habits are the oxygen for a pilgrim’s heart and can also become powerful moments of hope that we retell as family memories. If we find ourselves leading children through the Christmas season, an Advent pilgrimage is a perfect opportunity to create a sense of place, belonging and an atmosphere of holiness that children will remember in later years.

I’ve made a few pilgrimages in my life so far, trips made to seek something bigger than myself and travel in foreign countries. Yet a recent pilgrimage held dear by our family was simply a journey in our own home as we abandoned the dinner dishes and changed into our pyjamas and dressing gowns, discarded our screens, turned off the over head lights and lit some candles. We gathered, not in some distant and exotic location but on the rug in front of the living room fire, encouraged our bodies to slow down and began to read the story of God together. This time, one of the pilgrims, an initially reluctant three year old who seemed to have ‘ants in her pants’ welcomed Jesus into her heart for the first time as she lay her head on a cushion and heard the story of God’s love – “His wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” ( The Jesus Storybook Bible )

Maybe sometimes all it takes is lighting a candle, holding hands and inviting God’s spirit to dwell with us as we remind ourselves of the true meaning of the journey we’re taking this Advent. Of course you can experiment with the forms that suit you and your family. But I want to encourage you to keep going, even if it seems that there is squirming and complaining, because there will be those precious moments where you find yourself delighted by the treasures found in your family’s pilgrimage into God’s heart.

For some great family resources check out:

The Jesus Storybook Advent Guide free download

Lectio for Families daily devotional app

Back to all