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By Lanny Swaim
For all the pilgrims who are on a healing journey (or soon will be), and for all the witnesses accompanying them (or will be), this is for you.
A PILGRIM is one who journeys, especially long distances, to a holy place for a religious or spiritual purpose; one who embarks on a quest for something conceived of as sacred; a traveler of literal travels or of spiritual and healing journeys.
A WITNESS is a close observer; one who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced; one who furnishes evidence or serves as a sign; one who is to be present at or have personal knowledge of; one who can testify to.
The words that come out in the middle of the ache are often the most telling and important. Said another way, our deepest moments of pain usually reveal our truest inner knowing. And while it is often difficult to experience this, real healing calls for it because we must give voice to the truth of our story.
This doesn't happen casually. Instead, we must get into the messy trenches of reality with intention. Then and only then can see what we need to see, hear what we need to hear, feel what we need to feel, and proceed how we need to proceed.
To look "it" in the eyes, be it grief, pain, brokenness, trauma, illness, disappointment, despair, sadness, anger, fear, deception, or whatever the "it" might be, to put our hands on the matter and begin the hard yet rewarding work of uncovering the truth, is to acknowledge both it's existence and impact. And the moment we do this is the real moment change starts to happen.
A Higher Purpose
This type of God-designed healing process is usually not easy. We can't always see what it's producing while we're in it, but it is a worthy and necessary process, and it always serves a higher purpose - His purpose.
To be the one who walks this path is to be a PILGRIM; it is an invitation to discovery and awakening on deeper levels. God uses pilgrims to blaze new trails for certain things, and your life experiences often speak to this; although you probably won't have the full understanding of it beforehand. Not just anyone can accompany you on this journey; they must be handpicked by the Father. So they are.
To be the one who accompanies the pilgrim is to be a WITNESS; it also invites deeper discovery and awakening. God always has a witness for everything He does, and you bear witness to what is taking place in this journey. You are as vital to this process as the pilgrim; just differently. Your life experiences are key to this too. You hold a special place in this process for the pilgrim. God views it as a place of honor, a place of servant hood.
The work of the pilgrim and the witness is a joint and living work that holds eternal significance. Both are led by the Spirit of God, both are important, and both will forever be changed as a result of this sacred journey.
Usually, the pilgrim later becomes the witness for someone else. In fact, pilgrims make the best witnesses. Conversely, the witness may take a pilgrim's journey of their own later on if they haven't already, and because they've experienced it first hand, they will know the value of having an honest-to-goodness witness by their side.
For some, it is an interchanging journey of pilgrim and witness. In other words, sometimes you're both. There are moments within the process where the witness becomes the pilgrim for a time, and the pilgrim their witness. There may even be an ebbing and flowing of this throughout the entirety of the journey. It requires confidence in the leadership of Holy Spirit and trust in each other, which usually isn't hard because there are mutual love and honor among the three.
Flexible and Focused
Perhaps it seems a paradox to switch from pilgrim to witness and vice versa, but there's an even greater discovery to be found within this; it's entirely necessary to be flexible and focused while on this journey.
While our stories might look uniquely different in detail, we can see parts of ourselves in each other more than we might realize.
Keep in mind, we are not broken open for the sake of exposing blood, guts, muck, and cracks. Instead, it's to reveal truth and compassion and healing; it is for the purpose of genuine transformation, which God desires for us.
He often reaches out His hand of love, hope, truth, and grace through His people; His true kindness and compassion coursing through our veins make the difference.
It is Jesus, the hope of glory in us, with us, and through us that makes this possible.
We need Him. We need each other. He designed it this way.
Sometimes the very thing we long for most is also the thing we most fear; that is to be truly seen and known. It is a vulnerable place to be yet we were created for it. We were created to know and be known by God and each other. We were created for genuine relationship; it's one of His greatest gifts.
Therefore, the healing journey of the pilgrim and the witness is also a journey of revelation and knowing. And there is often a prophetic element interlaced within this work too. Meaning the map of your journey may serve as a blueprint for others down the road. You are destined to be successful and make a difference.
Value the Process
As you travel this way, you will discover how much God values the process, value it as well. And value one another. In doing so, you are expressing your value for Him.
Don't be afraid to embrace His process, pilgrim.
Don't be afraid to accompany His process, witness.
You need Him, and you need each other. And when you come through to the other side of this, you'll better understand why He's chosen to do it the way He is (or will for those of you who haven't begun yet).
He holds each of you in His great love.
Trust Him; you're right where He wants you.
A fellow pilgrim and witness,