Sojourn by Ronda

Sojourn: Answering the Call

I Chronicles 29:15

 “For we are strangers before You and sojourners, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope or expectation of remaining.”

 This scripture is from King David’s prayer after receiving an offering for the building of the Lord’s House by his son Solomon.  David had a dream in his heart to build a place for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to dwell (Psalm 132). The Lord told King David that his son, Solomon, would fulfill this dream because David was a man of war and this assignment was holy.  A nation whose forefather Abraham left his kin and traveled to a foreign land because he believed the promise of God. Now his descendant is reminded of this during a time when he is faithfully acting in response to a promise as well.  This scripture is also suggested as the very one that inspired Isabelle Baumfree to name herself Sojourner Truth.

Here is an excerpt from her edited book  The Narrative of Sojourner Truth taken from an online source:

Page 99

Her next decision was, that she must leave the city; it was no place for her; yea, she felt called in spirit to leave it, and to travel east and lecture. She had never been further east than the city, neither had she any friends there of whom she had particular reason to expect any thing; yet to her it was plain that her mission lay in the east, and that

Page 100

she would find friends there. She determined on leaving; but these determinations and convictions she kept close locked in her own breast, knowing that if her children and friends were aware of it, they would make such an ado about it as would render it very unpleasant, if not distressing to all parties. Having made what preparations for leaving she deemed necessary,–which was, to put up a few articles of clothing in a pillow-case, all else being deemed an unnecessary incumbrance,–about an hour before she left, she informed Mrs. Whiting, the woman of the house where she was stopping, that her name was no longer Isabella, but SOJOURNER, and that she was going east. And to her inquiry, ‘What are you going east for?’ her answer was, ‘The Spirit calls me there, and I must go.’

         She left the city on the morning of the 1st of June, 1843, crossing over to Brooklyn, L.I.; and taking the rising sun for her only compass and guide, she ‘remembered Lot’s wife,’ and hoping to avoid her fate, she resolved not to look back till she felt sure the wicked city from which she was fleeing was left too far behind to be visible in the distance; and when she first ventured to look back, she could just discern the blue cloud of smoke that hung over it, and she thanked the Lord that she was thus far removed from what seemed to her a second Sodom.

         She was now fairly started on her pilgrimage; her bundle in one hand, and a little basket of provisions in the other, and two York shillings in her purse–her heart strong in the faith that her true work lay before her, and that the Lord was her director; and she doubted not he would provide for and protect her, and that it would be very censurable in her to burden herself with any thing more than a moderate supply for her then present needs.

On February 19th I was at the computer and I began to think about Sojourner Truth.  I just googled her and read from Wikipedia.  I concede that this is not the best online resource for information but I did read the entire article.  I already knew a little about her from previous studies but I found out that Isabella Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth on June 1, 1843.  This intrigued me because my birthday is June 1.  I pondered it for a few minutes trying to discover exactly why the Lord had brought this to my attention but then I decided to leave it alone.

Later that day I read the email from Peg about our topic for the next blog: SOJOURN.  When I read the email, which she said she had originally sent on the 8th of  February…I didn’t know what to think.  Why didn’t the first email arrive? Why did she decide to send it again on the 19th and why had I just looked up Sojourner Truth that morning? I decided to leave it alone.

Today on the 23rd I am sitting at my computer looking at different media and articles about Sojourner Truth and I can’t keep from crying.  I read her poem “Ain’t I A Woman” and listened to a dramatic rendition by Actress Cicely Tyson during the congressional ceremony honoring her unveiled bust in 2009.  I cried.  I am not even exactly sure why I feel so emotional about this besides the fact that I am a woman of African American heritage.  Maybe that is enough.

I decided to leave it alone. I walked away from it for a few days.

A few days can always help you gain perspective.

I think I understand my response now.

A sojourn is a temporary stay in a given place.  King David and Sojourner Truth understood that their time here upon this earth is only for a season.  David’s prayer says it is but a shadow.  Both recognized that what was in their heart to do was from the Lord and that it was important to respond to it.  We all are children of God. This earth is not our eternal home.  As believers, we know we are strangers here as well and are citizenry is of a heavenly kingdom.  Yet we all have a call to answer while we are here.  We all have something in our hearts that compels us to action.  Sometimes it takes a little time for us to discern exactly what it is but once we know what it is, we usually recognize Who gave it to us and Who intends to empower us to complete it.  Both King David and Sojourner Truth recognized Who empowered their purpose and they answered the call.

The more I pondered the life of Sojourner Truth, the more I understood why the Lord had drawn me to her testimony.  I believe God has a plan and purpose for each human’s life.  I believe each of us is uniquely designed and gifted to complete that plan and purpose.  The difficulty is in the discovery of it and then sticking with it.  Difficulty will come. Obstacles will hinder.  Disappointment and even failure will greet us.  However, the more I thought about this woman, Sojourner Truth, the more I realized that I am simply without excuse.  If an uneducated illiterate slave woman can hear the call of God and respond with obedience despite every societal obstacle imaginable against her; who am I not to complete the race set before me? Who am I not to be fully persuaded that this same God can complete the plan that he has for me?  Who am I to shrink back from any challenge or obstacle when I have not faced any thing like those of “like precious faith” who have sojourned before me?

God creates us with purpose. We are not just here.  We have a call to answer.  Everyone’s call is not the same nor is it of the same magnitude; the differences are not important. What is important is this similarity; that our Creator ordains every call and therefore it is important to the fulfillment of His purpose.  King David and Sojourner Truth answered the call to be sojourners fulfilling a God-given purpose. Their obedience has inspired and compelled this sojourner to fulfill her God-given purpose, full of faith knowing that “faithful is He who is calling you and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24 AMP).

Sojourners be inspired and compelled to answer your call.

Sojourn by Peggy

A few weeks ago I got laid off.  I’ve never had that happen to me before, and I honestly felt a little lost and somewhat fearful.  I’ve always felt that I’m in control of my life.  Ok, ok, so the family would say I am a “control freak”, but I disagree with that moniker.  Let’s just say that I am “obsessively organized” and leave it at that J.  Back to the point:  Anytime in my life if I have left a job, I have always known exactly what was next.  Not this time.  So, I found myself with lots of time on my hands to think, pray and reflect.  I thought that job would be my last job, and I just couldn’t figure out why it only lasted for two years.  The word “sojourn” kept rolling around in my mind.

To sojourn means  to stay for a time in a place; to stay temporarily; to stay for a time in a place not one’s own.   I guess I always thought of that in terms of one who is a nomad, a wanderer.   Someone with no plan.  I didn’t think this word fit me, but it has fit different situations.

It seems that there has always been a “sojourner” in my life.  As a very little girl my mother brought her father into our home at the end of his life.  I was very young and don’t remember much about it, but I do know that he left his 3 kids after their mother, his wife,  died, and he had no real contact with them.  He abandoned them, to be raised by their grandparents, during the Depression.  My mother was only 7 years old.   Her father contacted all of his adult children when he needed help at the end of his life.  According to my mother, her brother and sister were in no position to do anything for him, and my mother didn’t want to do anything for the man who made an already fragile childhood shatter into pieces.  My father was the one who told my mom that they needed to help him, or she would regret it all of her life and always wonder what would have happened had she helped.  So, begrudgingly, she gave in.  She told me that she never regretted it.  She still could never understand how any father could do what he did, but she knew when he died that she had made peace with it and had forgiven him as best she could.  By bringing him into our home for a few weeks, she watched her children interact with him, she got to know him a little, and she no longer carried unforgiveness for him around her neck like a millstone.

Years later, when my aunt had broken her leg and needed some help, my parents did not hesitate to bring her under our roof until she healed.   That’s the way it was.  So, naturally, when I became an adult and got married, Jim and I followed suit.  It seems that there are many times in our lives when someone has come to stay awhile.  A friend and her family who were in-between houses, that same aunt who later lost a part of her foot and most of her eyesight to diabetes and needed to come and stay for a few months, a brother who was in the service and would stay when he was on leave, a sister who stayed one summer while she was in college, friends of the kids—lots of friends of the kids.  Just people who needed a bed for awhile.  One young man and his baby, whose wife left him because she decided she didn’t want to be a wife or a mother.  College kids who needed a local place to stay during Christmas break, our own adult children and their families who needed a place for a spell, and the list goes on.  Some stayed for days, some for weeks, some for months and some even for years.  Sojourners, every one.

I remember at one point, when our youngest had gone off to college, I wanted to sell the house.  We were now empty nesters, and it didn’t make much sense for us to keep a house that was clearly built to shelter an entire family.  One day, as I was praying about that, I felt like God just said “no, you’re going to need this house”.    We didn’t sell it.  Had I known at that moment how many people would be “sojourning” here in the next few years, I would have sold it and moved to a one-bedroom something in a bad neighborhood with no parking!

It hasn’t always been easy, I’ll admit it.  There were times here and there that Jim and I would just find a corner somewhere and hunker down and just wonder what was wrong with us.  Why did we just give over our house to every one?  But then, we would look at whoever was staying at the time, and see a look of peace and contentment as they were watching television or something, and we knew:  we didn’t give them a house to stay in, but we created a home for them for a time.  No one ever took undue advantage of us, but showed us great respect.  It was hard for some of them at times.  But we all survived.  This was a place for them to stay a while before moving on to the next thing. And we all learned something from each other.  I could write several books on our experiences, some nice and some not so nice, but all times of learning.

I have come to realize that we are all sojourners in this experience we call life.  While part of our life  (Jim & I) role seems to have been the ones who provide the place for the sojourners, overall, we are also sojourners.  We are here in this world temporarily, passing through.  Jim likes to say we are created to be “vice-regents” for God, caretakers and administrators of this place called earth.  It’s what we do with our time here that is important.  Jim and I just always felt as though providing a place to stay was our reasonable service to mankind:  someone needed a bed, we had a bed, so we lent a bed.  Plain and simple.

We sojourn through each phase of our lives, our jobs, our families; taking up residence for a time in that phase, before moving on to the next.  It is up to us to treat the earth as if it is owned by someone else who has been kind enough to let us kick back and stay awhile.  Treat this life with kid gloves, as if we know that it is a gift given to us for a short time.   Enjoy life’s seasons, embrace the experience you are in right now, be ready to embark on the next journey.  Our time here on this earth is like a grain of sand on a beach, a dot on the timeline of eternity.

Solomon, the wisest and richest man to ever live, at the end of his life, summed it all up, how we should sojourn through this life:

Now all has been heard;  here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”     Ecc.12:13-14

Sojourn by Andrea

Sojourning through life

As I watch my husband grow older, I realize that I too am growing old.  I see my own daughter beginning to enter middle age. It is then that I realize that this life is but a temporary stop on the way to eternity.  We are all sojourning here on earth while we go about the business of life, raising families, working, enjoying friends and relatives. Yet, we are only visitors in this life, wherever we chose to dwell. What is on the other side of this life? For me it is a simple answer. The Lord knows and I trust the Lord.

I have often said that we cannot comprehend infinity bc humans are finite beings. There is nothing in my existence, that I have to compare, that allows me to fathom eternity. So I cannot comprehend a Being with no beginning and no end. As a teenager I often tried to grasp infinity. I would try to imagine this solar system and then what was past that and on and on.  I began to understand that I was not made to understand the things that only God knows. I must learn to be content to fill the time and space I have with things of value. Or with things of no value but those are my choices, there are no others.

People often complain about what they have not accomplished in this life. I ask them about their friends and family. Do they know the Lord? Our lives have value when we are the healers not the hurters. Too often, hurting people hurt other people. How do I fill my life in such a way as to do no harm and to be a healer?  I have my own scars, I do not wish to leave any on others.

Recently, I listened to a pastor give a sermon on tabernacling with God. It helped me form the understanding of my sojourn here on earth. Often I feel like an alien on someone else’s planet. My daughter spoke it so succinctly when she described, “it often feels like being a bride in the middle of a battlefield…” I understood exactly how she felt. Here we are waiting for the bridegroom while the wounded and suffering are all around.  Yet we must ready ourselves for the bridegroom as we sojourn in a land that does not want us, struggling to share the good news of life eternal and life more abundant here on earth. I find it frustrating that it seems as if the people I care the most about don’t understand the love, grace and majesty of living a life full of Christ’s presence. I enjoy many things that my secular friends do but nothing compares to the joy of seeing someone come to know Christ or be healed from a disease or comforted in trials. Nothing compares to having the Lord speak to you and touch your life. But if the Lord never did a miracle or never spoke to me He’d still be God. My understanding of Him does not change Him. He is not fickle and our salvation is not something we need to fret about even though it is the most priceless thing we possess. It is in safe keeping within our Lord’s great Book of Life.

Resting in the assurance of our faith is part of what it means to tabernacle with God, to follow the words of Christ and not the sermons of our pastor or denomination.  To have His name so deeply embedded upon our hearts that we don’t recognize ourselves anymore but only see Him and the only scar we care about is the one that marks where our heart was circumcised when we dedicated ourselves to Him.

We are all on a journey, we know not what path the Lord lays before us but we know it is the only one for us. There is no other that I would desire to follow, no deeper calling than the One that comes from above. Nothing more important to do than to share His love with another.

I smile as I look at my hands, no amount of cream will remove those wrinkles and knowing one day they will blow away like dust. From dust we came to dust we will go… and yet I am at peace with knowing that my journey was not in vain….

Sojourn by Barbara

“Sojourn,” Now here is a word that does not get thrown around much in a conversation, however it shows up in the Bible many times. For example: Genesis 12:9-11 states, “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land,” Judges 17:9, “And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place,” Psalm 105:23, “Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.”  When we read these verses we comprehend that a sojourn is a place to stay, to lodge, a stop-over, to live or dwell in a place for a season.  Sojourns are temporary, just transitory moments in our lives.

Countless person, places and things  in life may be long-term such as staying married to the same spouse, keeping a house in the family, friendships, job etc., of course a few of them may be a sojourn.  Many are by choice but as we well know this is not always the case.  God ways are not our ways.

Case in point: Years ago I owned a pet grooming business.  My husband and I were married for quite a few years and we had no children.  We both agreed we were ok with that so off I went to New York to learn how to groom.  It wasn’t long after graduation that the Lord put me at the right place at the right time and my business was launched.  My plan for my life was to stay in this business until I retired.  I’m sure you heard of the old cliché, “Tell God your plans and he laughs at you.”  Well this is what happened to me which was a shock since the Lord opened all the doors for this to come to pass, nevertheless it was a sojourn in my life. After 3 years into the business and 11 years of marriage I suspected I was pregnant. I took one of those home pregnancy tests just to put my mind at ease as it just could not be after all these years. When the test came out positive, I actually called the company that made the product to let them know in no uncertain terms their test was wrong. The kind woman on the other end of the line declared, “Honey, if our test gave you a positive result then you are pregnant! Our test may give a false negative result but not a false positive.  You need to see a doctor.”  I was devastated when a doctor confirmed the results but abortion was not an option.  After awhile, my husband and I both had a change of heart and looked forward to our new arrival.  Against the advice of some friends and family members I put the business up for sale as I felt lead from the Lord to do so and it was the right decision. I’m delighted to say I  took to motherhood like a fish takes to water and I never looked back. Though motherhood isn’t easy, it is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. The business sojourn taught me to trust the Lord no matter what it looks like.  I learned that He really is faithful as well as elated that He showed me His plans are better than mine.

Now let us take a look at the most important sojourn of them all, our time here on earth. Here is how The Message explains it: 1 Peter 2:11 “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.”  Although it is just a  few sentences, it tells us how to live our sojourn on earth.  No matter how many years we live, earth is our temporary home.  We are just passing through.  When we read about heaven in the Bible or hear of one’s encounter, we may long for our sojourn on earth to end.  Our life should be filled with the joy of the Lord but it can be very difficult at times, oh come on, let’s be honest, it can downright suck. When we think about being with Jesus for all eternity, those streets of gold, a place where there is no more sorrow and no more tears we almost want to cry out, “Lord take me home.” I certainly have.  At the same time, I do not believe we should continuously be longing for our heavenly home as we have a job to do here on earth.  We are told in 2 Peter 3:9, “Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” Do you see It? It is the Lord’s desire that no one would perish.  We should be co-laboring with the Lord, therefore let us be His witnesses by living lives that will attract the lost to Him.  Therefore when the sojourn gets tough the tough get going.  Enjoy the sojourns of your life the good and the not so good.  Think of it as an adventure.  Have faith in the Lord as He is trustworthy.