Pioneer or Tourist?
Nothing was more exciting to me as a girl than to read pioneer stories. Often the plot involved a man who hankered to get away from city life as he knew it 200 years or so ago. Tales of free farm land, open space, fresh meat and fowl for the killing, and even the possibility of finding gold urged him to sell out, load a covered wagon with provisions, tuck his family into the wagon bed and start west. Usually a family joined a wagon train for protection, mutual aid and for staying the route.
Once at a place they wanted to call home, the family staked out a claim, got busy felling trees and built a log house...or if they were on the Great Plains, they might build a sod house immediately with the plan to build a frame home later.
In order to plant crops, they had to clear the land of rocks and debris. The hearty sod that covered the land had to be broken up with an ox-drawn plow before it was ready to receive seed. Pioneers worked hard, and often the land was unforgiving.
Womenfolk cooked over an open hearth. They hand-stitched the family's clothing, knitted warm garments for the harsh winters, and did laundry in a stream or with a washtub and scrub board. They made their own candles, soap, butter, milked their cow, planted gardens: on and on it went. They did everything they could to survive. Some died in childbirth, but many lived and passed on their methods to their children, who worked beside their parents as soon as they were able to learn.
Most pioneers gave up the hope of ever seeing living relatives 'back East' again. Their move was for keeps! They forsook a life of refined ease for tough individualism that the West demanded for survival. They well knew the sorrows of separation and death.
Today, our highways and byways are dotted with signs and memorials that commemorate and mark locations, incidents and battles of those rugged pioneers. Our road maps and atlases highlight where those markers are, so, as tourists, we can visit those places. Many sites offer guided tours of historic trails, buildings or museums where we learn about the forerunners who lived or worked there: what their daily life looked like, how they dressed, what they ate, and perhaps how they conducted their business. It helps us remember what we've seen and heard when we take selfies and photos on the spot. Later, we can share our trip with family and friends and sound quite like an authority about the subject as we talk.
Strange, isn't it? We can go exactly where the pioneers did. What a difference there is between the hardships they endured in their effort to establish a new way of life and the ease of motels, restaurants and cars we tourists enjoy while we retrace their steps!
The same sort of contrast exists between 'pioneer' and 'tourist' Christians! Some believers have such a great hunger to know God more and learn His secrets that they sell out and determine to travel lightly to gain heaven. They endure the rejection of friends who find their behavior ridiculous; they willingly go it alone, if need be, just to pursue God. If possible, they seek out other believers who are likeminded so they can journey together. If they're unsuccessful in that search, they keep moving in their quest for greater fellowship with God and obedience to Him. The Holy Spirit draws them, mentors, teaches, admonishes, fills and dares them---they follow on. They don't look back; instead they try to bring others with them, love people regardless of their stance, and they love God most. They travel a narrow pathway regardless of where it takes them, all by 'pioneer' faith.
Then there are 'tourist' Christians. A 'tourist' believer is one who is not a 'pioneer.' And that is where this discussion ends. Each person who claims Christ ought to be a 'pioneer' believer! If he or she does not fit that job description, 'tourist' is what remains. ...ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Each individual determines which camp he or she belongs to. But, remember: It's the narrow way that leads to heaven..."and few there be who find it!"
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