Sunday, September 13, 2009

How I Miss the Land of the Bible

I've visited Israel for at least ten days on three different occasions. And every time I went, I didn't want to leave. That's highly unusual for this gadabout, who's usually more than ready to get back to my own neck of the woods within five days of wherever else I go.

But Israel is like no other place on earth. As I rushed through the jetway to the plane on my first trip, I said, "Well, Father, I'm going home." That shocked me, for it was nothing I'd planned to say. But I discovered many hours later that this trip was a wonderful experience my heavenly Father provided for me.

It's impossible to choose my favorite place in the Holy Land; there's too many to consider. But I'd like to share a few with you. The one that leaves the greatest impression was feeling God's presence--like a loving father embracing his children in a holy, hovering way--in the Jewish Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. I caught a tiny but profound glimpse of His love for these physical offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Another treasured memory is my baptism in the Jordan River after a tremendous time of worship with the group I toured with. I hadn't planned to be baptized. After all, I'd done that many years prior and didn't NEED to do it again. Or so I thought. But after the unction of the Holy Spirit pressed upon me, I tore away from the group to a little tourist shop to rent a white robe, concerned the whole time I was gone that I might not get back quickly enough to participate. But God was faithful. He didn't leave me out.

Another special event took place in the grove that holds the Garden Tomb. My group assembled together in a small wooded cove to pray and take communion. Then we stood in a long line to wait for  our turns into the hewed out tomb. The sign on the door says it all. "He is not here ~ for He is Risen." The presence of the Lord permeated the place. (Photo on right shows Golgatha--place of the skull--in the background.)

For fun we lolled around Ben Yehuda St., a major shopping area spread over several city blocks, and tried falafels for the first time. The greedy birds practically demanded we hand-feed them our scraps. I bought a huge ram's horn (shofar), and several of us puckered up and tried to blow it--no easy feat at all.

No matter where we traveled, in times of prayer and contemplation or fun and fellowship, the ache of wanting to stay in the Holy Land clung to me.

Oh Father, may I go back soon?

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