Pilgrimage (review)

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Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus WalkedPilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked by Lynn Austin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A series of losses, disappointments, and unpleasant surprises have pummeled Lynn Austin. She is feeling bruised, spiritually dry, and, in plain words, depressed. And so she has high hopes for an opportunity to travel around Israel for two weeks:

“Spiritual renewal is what I long for … as I begin this pilgrimage. I want to see the bigger picture of His plan and learn to accept His will in all things. I want to revitalize my prayer life. … Maybe I’ll be able to let go of my own will and face the changes in my life with joy and faith” – Pilgrimage, Kindle Location 97.

Pilgrimage is Lynn Austin’s account of that two-week trip. But it is much more than a travelogue. For in it she gives the historical background of each stop. She reviews for us the Bible events that happened in each location. She explains Bible customs from her knowledge enriched by research for the many biblical fiction novels she’s written. And she probes those Bible events and characters for insights and lessons she can take back with her into everyday life.

Some things I really liked about this book were the lyrical descriptions of modern sites in Israel as seen through Austin’s eyes, the review of what happened at each location, and the explanations of interesting customs that add richness and depth to an understanding of the Bible. And I gained an appreciation of the humanity of this author (whose novels I’ve enjoyed) as she shared openly about her life.

One aspect of the book that disappointed me, though, was the way Austin explained her situation and feelings in the first chapter and then, throughout most of her travels, she merely named the feelings she was grappling with (anxiety, discouragement, impatience, worry, etc) without relating them to specific incidents or triggers. It seemed like a type of “telling’ versus “showing” and didn’t have the impact one would expect that kind of memoir-writing to have. Perhaps a more engaging way of relating these personal incidents would have been to leave that list out of Chapter One and tell about these events in bits and pieces throughout her travels. As it was, I had to keep reminding myself why she was feeling so negative—Oh right, that list from Chapter One. When she did include stories of her life that her travels brought to mind, my interest immediately picked up.

Pilgrimage would make a wonderful read-along guide for people touring Israel. Many locations are chapter titles and of course digital copies of the book are searchable so no worries if your itinerary differs from hers, just search the location you wish to read about: Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Joppa, Caesarea etc.

For anyone who loves Israel or hopes to tour the Holy Land, Pilgrimage is a good historical and devotional resource.

I received my copy of Pilgrimage as a gift from Bethany House (via NetGalley) for the purpose of writing a review.

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