As I write this, I am sitting in row 19, in my customary aisle seat. I lucked out when the gal in the middle seat shifted to go sit with her boyfriend, leaving me and my row mate with some extra elbowroom. The take off was normal “SOP” and the flight has had few bumps. The guy in front of me dropped his cell phone under his seat three (count them) three times already, and the guy in the row to my left was snoring so loudly a doctor in first class could have prescribed a sleep apnea machine without even getting out of his seat. It is a typical flight in the friendly skies over America.
Traveling sure has changed a lot since I was a little girl. My very first flight was to Hawaii and I was so dressed up in my Sunday “best” that I had a hard time sleeping on the 11 hour seaplane ride (thanks to “Naval Air”).
But I got to wonder, what was it like traveling in biblical times? Well, one thing for sure, they always traveled in groups. There was safety in numbers and it would have also been more practical since they had to bring such a large stash of supplies.
There are a number of journeys recorded in our Bibles. There is the story when Joseph and Mary “lose” Jesus on the way home from Jerusalem to Nazareth (Luke 2). There is Jacob’s scary trip to reconnect with his brother Esau (Gen. 32). There is Jesus’ trip through Samaria and his encounter with the woman at the well (John 4).
And then there is a group of psalms that help chronicle the tri-annual trip all Israelite men and their families made to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Ps. 120-Ps.134 is called the “Songs of Ascents.” These 15 psalms were studied and sung corporately as men and women traveled to celebrate one of the three major Jewish feasts.
In your mind’s eye, you can see them walking along, singing songs of remembrance (like Ps. 124), songs of encouragement (like Ps. 121 and 125), instructive songs (like Ps.133) and songs that stirred their obedience (like Ps.131).
Conversations around an evening campfire had a common theme: how can we better worship, serve and obey Yahweh. No doubt the group was multigenerational. Children learned by experiencing the journey. Friends support the spiritual growth of their neighbors. Brothers encouraged brothers.
Boy I wish that was happening on this plane today! Wonder what would happen if I just broke out in song? (With my voice they would probably believe it was some form of disruption.) I wish my row mate would lean over and quote some of God’s word and encourage me! I wish I could be open and vulnerable with the clumsy cell phone guy. I wish I could pray with my sleeping friend. I’ll bet someone on this plane can carry a tune and lift our spirits in worship.
However, it isn’t going to happen on this plane. But Praise the Lord, Sunday is coming. Come Sunday, I will get to go church and surround myself with fellow “travelers.” We will read scripture, quote them, sing them and encourage each other with them. Someone will teach us. We will pray together. Now that’s my kind of traveling!
If church isn’t an important part of your life, today might be a wonderful day to make plans to change that. We are all traveling… and we all NEED the encouragement of traveling TOGETHER.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel