|Photo Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net|
The early American emigrants who braved a new and unknown world set out on a journey which they knew would not be easy. They had heard the promises of possibilities, and they knew that the road would be beyond difficult. They left behind family and friends with the understanding that they would likely never see them again.The development of discovery of gold in California is due in no small measure to the men and women who came by the California Emigrant Trail and who stayed to build our state. No other method of entry can parallel it in danger, privation, fortitude and romance, nor is anything more closely associated in the mind of the average American with the Gold Rush than the covered wagon. (accessed on-line 11/5/14 at No. 403 Historic Landmark)
The road was not only difficult, but it was uncharted. There may be a guide or two along the way who knew of various paths that had been followed, but when driving the terrain today, on a paved four lane highway, you look around and realize the magnitude of the bravery that these early pioneers demonstrated in navigating the mountains with horses, wagons, and rucksacks. And the roughest part of the terrain was often the Emigrant Gap.
Historical Landmark No. 403 in California is "located where covered wagons were thought to have been lowered over the cliff to the floor of Bear Valley by rope and tackle, held by iron spikes driven into the rock." (accessed on-line 11/5/14 at sierranevadageotourism.org) Can you even imagine lowering a wagon, filled with perhaps the only things left that you own, down into canyons off a mountain top? The pioneers who entered the Emigrant Gap were said to have descended 5,200 feet in order to do so.
In order to have that kind of courage, they no doubt had a passion in their heart and a persistent belief that there was something so promising on the other side that the threat of starvation, disease, wild animals, and death was nothing in comparison.
Isn't that like the journey of Christians here on earth?
We accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and start a journey toward Heaven. But, while on this journey, we are aliens, emigrants, who are traveling in the SAME world we started in, but who have to navigate threatening terrain while living in this world. We grow weary, frightened, and beaten down by the elements. We run into fallen rocks which require us to turn back and retrace our steps. We might have to overcome fears by crossing rushing rivers, or belaying down the sides of mountains. We might even come to a point in our lives when we feel stranded in the Emigrant Gap; unable to climb out and continue our journey.
But Jesus has said that we are in the world, not of it. That we, like him, must complete our mission here on earth before reaching the Promised Land. He pleads to God on our behalf, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." John 17:15-16 NIV
God never promised us an easy journey. But He has promised to never leave us, and He has promised that we have a Kingdom waiting for us on the other side of the gap. In this month of Thanksgiving, when we recognize God's blessings in our journey, let's circle the wagons, gather together, and give thanks for His bountiful goodness and mercies in our journey Home.
Pray: Heavenly Father, you are Sovereign and Merciful. Thank you for staying with us on our journey home. Thank you that we will not be permanently stranded in our own emigrant gap. We look to you to provide strength, wisdom and peace as we live out your mission for us here on earth. Amen