Philippians 3:17–21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…’(v20)

How comfortable do we feel describing ourselves as pilgrims? The word means foreigner, stranger and alien. The Romans used it to describe ‘non-citizens’ throughout its Empire. 

Scripture tells us that our citizenship is in heaven and not on earth. So, what are pilgrims’ hallmarks? The first is attentiveness, or giving our undivided attention to God. Much competes for our attention daily.

The pilgrim dismisses such distractions to concentrate upon both the purpose and the objective of their pilgrimage. For us, it is to love God and neighbour (Mark 12:28–31). 

Scripture tells us that our citizenship is in heaven and not on earth.

We are invited to find constructive ways to focus on God, so that He remains our central focus throughout our day. Attentiveness demands we listen to God, and the word ‘listen’ comes from the same root as ‘to obey’. This is because to obey effectively demands careful listening. Instructions are easy to hear, much harder to apply. 

Indeed, our understanding and behaviour are key measures that reveal what we have heard in life. It’s why we encourage each other in learning to live every day with Jesus.

Attentiveness equips us to follow God’s leading even when it makes little sense. The disciples struggled with attentiveness yet were able to obey even when Jesus’ instructions on entering Jerusalem, despite appearing unusual (Luke 19:28–35). 

Obedience is the product of good listening. As pilgrims we will lose our way, and our hope, if we fail to listen to God attentively. I heard and uneasily held my call to contemplation for many years before God released me into it.


1 Sam. 3:1–16; Jer. 26:1–9; John 8:31–47; Acts 4:13–22


What challenges does attentiveness present to you? What does being a pilgrim mean for life’s journey?


‘Lord, help me to be attentive to you and not be distracted by fears of what men say, so that I’ll faithfully labour night and day to be a pilgrim. Amen.’

Photo by Adam Jones on Wikimedia Commons
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.