Recollecting Your Life’s Travels – Br. Curtis Almquist

Acts 16:1-10
Psalm 100

In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we are told in great detail where the Apostle Paul traveled on his missionary journeys, a very detailed itinerary during just one season of his life. Why? The Apostle Paul has been traveling with Silas in Syria and Cilicia. They went on to Derbe, then met up with Timothy in Lystra, then to Phrygia, then Galatia. (Why? Because they could not go to Asia.) Then opposite Mysia, they attempted to enter Bithynia, (but were forbidden) so they went down to Troas… and then, because Paul had a dream, they set off to Macedonia… and on and on it goes. Why? Why are we given this endless travelogue?  Three reasons.

The most obvious reason is the very reason we do this. If there’s someone we know and love who has been away from us traveling, we want to know all about it. “Where did you go?” “What did you see?”  “Who did you meet?” “What impressed you the most?” We want to get current with people we love who have been away from us.

A second reason is that Saint Paul’s readers were an oppressed and persecuted minority. They needed the encouragement that their faith in Jesus was catching fire. If you are suffering, and there’s no immediate remedy for your suffering, the next best thing is to know you are not alone. So the story, this travelogue, is told for the sake of others’ encouragement.

The third reason was to recollect his own life, from where he had come to get to where he is, and to remember his experience of God’s ongoing provision in his life.  In Saint Paul’s writings, he uses the verb “remember” 17 times: remember, remember, remember God’s provision in the past to inspire confidence for the present, and hope for the future.[i]

You might find it encouraging to create your own travelogue: how you got to where you are in this moment in time. Remember, recollect your life. Whether you begin with the reports of the rampant Coronavirus several months ago, or whether you stretch your memory back to the beginning of the school year, or beginning of the decade, or to your childhood, whatever, recollect, remember your life. You might find it helpful to do some writing or some drawing to memorialize your life. You are a seasoned traveler in life. Undoubtedly you have been on uncharted territory before. And God has been with you and is with you. Recollect your life, which will inspire confidence in the present and hope for the future. This is a way of “praying your life.”[ii]

This invitation to remember and recollect life might even be something you offer to someone else you know… that you are interested and willing to listen… which will remind them they are not alone, and may help them remember that God cares and God listens.

The Psalm appointed for today ends with a reminder and a promise: “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his faithfulness endures from age to age.”[iii]

[i] The biblical sense of the word “remember” is literally to re-member, i.e., to re-stich, to suture something that has been severed or separated to where it belongs.

[ii] The English word “confidence” comes from the Latin comfidere: with trust.

[iii] Psalm 100:4.

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  1. Paul Hackett on November 19, 2023 at 10:18

    By email at age 94 from Tom Johnson I photo on this God-with-me exercise/prayer/ meditation . Travels world-wide have revealed. A Gracious Lord who thru the light of Christ has been there always forgiving me.2years morale teacher to pastor Aramco-Dhahran Saudi Arabia in 1968, end at Arab-Israel war.
    God chases me too. Cover EGO sins. Read edging out God. This year searching for this life’s challenges now with my wife in hospice chosen by her rather than a replacement Mandible. Praise God who is with us in our journies.

    ending the Arab-Israel war 1968. Hearing Victor Frankenstein

  2. Claudia I Booth on November 16, 2023 at 20:33

    Yes, the suggestion to re-member your life is a very good one. My list will be long. Thankfully, it has been a journey in which I have welcomed God (Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier) by my side.

  3. Alexandra Bacon on November 15, 2023 at 16:49

    As someone who loves to travel, and has visited many places, the “prompt” of a travelogue is intriguing and inspiring. God has been, and continues to be, an amazing travel companion! In preparation for my first overseas trip, at 8 years old, I was given a leather-bound travel diary. One entry mentioned that I visited St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. This was no ordinary visit: I was introduced to William Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of the World,” and it changed my life. I still have the postcard of this painting, from the Cathedral’s gift shop. It is my preferred icon. So my God travelogue started early in life. This “prompt” will be very revealing.

  4. Anne B Godwin on November 15, 2023 at 12:23

    Thank you for the post this morning. I will start my travel journal today!

  5. Sue Sottile on November 15, 2023 at 12:17

    As a recent widow, I have become closer to God in my reflections and prayers. Journaling has been of great value as well. Today’s recollection of remembering my own “soulful” travels is meaningful to me during my grief journey. I know I am not traveling alone and never have. That realization has brought me great comfort, renewed faith and hope for a better today and tomorrow. Thank you for your insight. Sue

  6. Dottie Doherty on November 15, 2023 at 11:09

    I remember sitting in a tent with my college age daughter on a rainy day as we wrote down our life timelines and then spending a long time talking about how each of us remembered the major events. It was a beautiful and rewarding time.
    Todays story reminded me of that blessed time

  7. Jack Zamboni on November 15, 2023 at 09:26

    I found myself looking back at my life through a changing spiritual lens prompted by a book I was reading on a recent long airplane flight, and discovered new and rich insights, as well as questions for the future. I’ve done versions of this practice in the past, some while on retreat at the monastery. Grateful for this reminder of continuity along the journey.

  8. Theresa on November 15, 2023 at 08:46

    I love this idea of “praying your life”. Thank you for this encouragement this morning.

  9. Bill Palmer on November 15, 2023 at 08:27

    I can recall having done this kind of exercise in Dr. Thelma Adair’s religious education class at Union Theological Seminary in New York during the seventies. It was eye-opening, and I’ve repeated it several times since. It’s allowed me to better appreciate–during good times and bad–the direction of the Spirit in my life.

  10. jeffrey mcnary on November 15, 2023 at 07:22


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