Living Like a Traveller

I've been reading this book called "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment", written in 1648, by a man named Jeremiah Burroughs. Aside from the Bible, I'm not sure I've ever read (I mean actually reading, word for word, in entirety) a book this old. Anyway, I have been having to plug along a couple pages at a time because it's so utterly meaty and full of wisdom and insight that to read any more would cause brain overload for me (And, for the record, I'm OK with that... I don't want to act like a brainiac when I know that I personally would miss major points if I tried to breeze through a book like this!).

I came across this passage (p.94-95), and just had to share it with you. I hope it does for you what it did for me: made me think and really challenged me about how I view this world and my time in it.
While I live in the world my condition is to be but a pilgrim, a stranger, a traveller, and a soldier. Now rightly to understand this, not only being taught it by rote, so that I can speak the words over, but when my soul is possessed with the consideration of this truth, that God has set me in this world, not as in my home but as a mere stranger and a pilgrim who is travelling to another home, and that I am here a soldier in my warfare, I say, a right understanding of this is a mighty help to contentment.

For instance, when a man is at home, if things are not according to his desire he will find fault and is not content; but if a man travels, perhaps he does not meet with conveniences as he desires-- his diet is not as at home, and his bed is not as at home-- yet this thought may moderate his spirit: I am a traveller. ...If a man meets with bad weather, he must be content; it is traveller's fare, we say. ...When you are at sea, though you have not as many things as you have at home, you are not troubled at it; you are contented. Why? Because you are at sea. You are not troubled when storms arise, and though many things are otherwise than you would have them at home you are still quieted with the fact that you are at sea.

...
Thus it should be with us in this world, for the truth is, we are all in this world but as seafaring men, tossed up and down on the waves of the sea of this world, and our haven is Heaven; here we are travelling, and our home is a distant home in another world. ...Though we meet with travellers' fare sometimes, yet it should not be grievous to us. The Scripture tells us plainly that we must behave ourselves here as pilgrims and strangers: 'Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul' (1 Peter 2:11). Consider what your condition is, you are pilgrims and strangers; so do not think to satisfy yourselves here. .

..So let us not be troubled when we see that other men have great wealth and we have not. -- Why? We are going away to another country; you are, as it were, only lodging here for a night. If you were to live a hundred years, in comparison to eternity it is not as much as a night, it is as though you were travelling, and had come to an inn. And what madness is it for a man to be discontented because he has not got what he sees there, seeing he may be going away again within less than a quarter of an hour?

Wow. So this stop here (wherever "here" is for you) is barely a blip on the screen. It can all seem so monumental, but I think Burroughs is highlighting a very important part of contentment: that we put our present concerns in light of the length and importance of eternity.

It definitely helps me (in terms of contentment) to think of myself as a traveller-- what say you?

14 comments:

Terry said...

Great thoughts. Very profound, and true. Sounds like a book worth reading.

Amanda said...

I'm traveling this life, trying, with the Lord's help, to keep my eyes focused on the eternal.

It does sound like a good book.

Emmy said...

Wow - Jess that was amazing. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for the initiative you take to publish all that you do here. I've been coming to your page and reading for a while now (like to think of you as my Titus 2 mentor) and it's awakening me, pricking my senses. That last passage you highlighted and shared was interesting for me as I'm quite confused at the moment. Fascinating. But doesn't stop me from feeling homesick!

Steph VG said...

A few years ago, I heard Elyse Fitzpatrick speak on the subject of contentment, and she referenced this book; it sat on my wish list for another couple of years, and then I just bought it a little while ago. Due to the other books on my reading list right now, it's still sitting on the shelf, but when my bookstack shrinks a bit, it's first in line to be added. Thanks for the motivation to get reading again so I can get to it. This is a much needed lesson in my life; I'm not discontented as a habit, but I do catch myself looking wistfully at the world around me at times. Thanks for the reminder that, even as a "homebody," I'm really just a traveler on my way Home.

Jess said...

Emmy,
Thanks for your encouragement; I'm glad you enjoy my random thoughts and musings... I love to share what I'm learning and reading- and SO glad when it's insightful for others too!


Steph,
How funny that you have this book in your line up right now- it'll be worth it. I'm not halfway through it, I don't think, and I'm just amazed at his grasp on cultivating contentment as a believer. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

~Jess

ladyofvirtue said...

Good job! Thoughtful and encouraging.

Sherry

Darlene said...

Hello my Sister in Christ,
Thank you for your blogg , I especially love this one about this book , imust go out now and find it ...i love to read things that make you really think and on occasion im a nut for a good sci fi mystery/fantasy type to ...i guess im a travelling detective at heart. I look forward to reading more of your future blogg articles.

Blessing to you,
Darlene

*~Tamara~* said...

Excellent book. I still haven't read the whole thing (she said sheepishly) but I will.

Madeline said...

Wow, that is really dense writing! I don't know if I'd ever be able to read through all of that!

It kind of depresses me to think of myself as only a traveller in this world. But, it also makes me think about what's really important in my life. Reading passages like this prompt me to want to do more to live for God, since eventually I will have to answer to Him for my actions.

amy said...

A very good quote. Something my children and I were discussing this afternoon (alright, it was more me) when the clutter-bug landed on the straw that broke the camel's back. We can't keep everything!, but must let some things go their way.

It is hard to keep the right perspective and remember we are not here on a permenant basis -- just passing through. I'm tired of saying "Pick it up", "We need more room", "If we had one more room...".

This traveler is putting on a lighter pack! "...and I can't feel at home in this world anymore!"

jeffzanne1 said...

Someone mentioned Elyse Fitzpatrick speaking on this book. I heard her as well, and then went on to purchase and study her resulting book, "Idols of the Heart." This is a wonderfully brutal book -- as you read it, pray that God will reveal your heart to you, convict you, and lead you to repentance. But know that it is also an extremely encouraging book. Read it, shelve it, then refer back to it often!

Anonymous said...

Hey Aunt Jessica!
I just wanted to say that as a TCK, that quote had a profound impact on me. Any TCK will tell you that the two worst questions we could ever be asked is where is home and where are you from. We never know what to say. To be reminded that we have no home on earth and that we are all nomads really, is extremely encouraging. We are not freaks because we don't know how to answer a "simple" and "straightforward" question. We are just closer to a truth that many people don't realize.
All that to say, thank you for sharing. And make sure to encourage Ethan, Baxter, Meme, and Silas to remember that even though they are different from other kids in the States, they are extremely blessed. They will grow up knowing more clearly that heaven is their only real home.
Hope that made sense.
-Charlotte the-part-time-babysitter

Piano Hero said...

Hey, that's cool. We're studying this book in our church's study group!

Penny said...

Thank you for this post. You don't know how much I needed it.