I’ve been wondering how to go about writing this post, kind of struggling with what to say and how in-depth I should go. I’ve thought about how I want it to be profound and moving but I don’t want to manipulate what I say or to simply construct something pretty. Because that’s not the message of the gospel. It has nothing to do with nice thoughts or fuzzy feelings or pretty words. It speaks truth and leaves it at that. As I share, I want to convey a true reflection of my trip and the things that I learned. I want to give a sense of what I believe and what it was like to come face to face with it.
I’ve decided to break my trip into four parts to ease what would else be a very long post.
Part 1: Grafted In: I just want to talk about the trip, summarizing some of my general feelings and what I’d like to pass on to others. This is part of it, so you’re already ahead of the game!
Part 2: Lead Me to the Cross: I’ll start with the photos here – the beginning of our journey. I’ll share the places in Israel we visited on our way to Jerusalem: Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Nazareth, Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, Caparnaum, Dead Sea etc.
Part 3: My Savior Lives: Our stay in Jerusalem. For two days I didn’t have my camera, but I do have some pictures I’ll share.
Part 4: Reign in Me. After Jerusalem, we left for home and stopped briefly in Vienna, then spent two days in Rome. It was definitely the lighter portion of the trip and it was fun!
So. Whew, that’s a lot. So let’s get started.
I don’t really know how to summarize a trip like this. A trip that was not only beautiful and amazingly historic, but it was deep and meaningful. I can’t explain it really, but it was beautiful to my soul. Even the barrenness, rockiness, and desert area – Israel filled me and has only become more special since I came home. It made Rome seem boring and superficial. (Is that controversial to say? Sorry, I promise I did like Rome.)
Since I returned, I’ve been asked what was amazing, or what moved me or simply “How was it?” What a question! I know I had three or four specifically “holy-cow-stand-in-awe” moments, my faith has grown and so has my love for God. But please know that just because I experienced these things, doesn’t make me especially deep or completely aware of everything spiritual. There were times when I was looking around at everyone thinking, “I should probably be feeling something right now” and I wasn’t very moved. Much of the time it was hard to grasp what I was seeing. Like, hey Currie. Jesus walked here. No really. HE. WALKED. HERE. Like, on these steps where you now stand. Jesus, who came to this earth and made you right with God and freed you from guilt and shame walked. Here.
I feel sort of rooted in Israel. Maybe I because I spent so much time thinking about it and planning for it, or maybe because of the in-depth tour and all the information we accrued or just being abroad again. Or maybe it’s something else. Maybe it was seeing a land that lives with the idea of something greater, the hope of something to come. Maybe it was knowing that the faith that my life stands on stems from this place and originates with these people. Maybe it was seeing a land that God loves with people who, like anyone, are still needing so much peace in their world.
Peace. Speaking of peace, it’s amazing to me how the Jewish and Muslim cultures exist in such close proximity. Not very well of course; obviously there’s conflict and to be honest, I can’t tell you all the ins and outs of the political climate there, nor can I hold an intelligent conversation about what’s really happening, but I know it’s rough. I know it’s uncomfortable to be at the Wailing Wall when the Muslim call for prayers echoes throughout the city. And I know that peace is a long way off.
Earlier, I talked about three or four moments of pure “awe”. If you ever want to hear about them, I’ll be happy to share! To save time, I’ll just mention that my favorite places were the Sea of Galilee, Garden of Gethsemane, the Temple Mount (where the Dome of the Rock is), and the Garden Tomb. For all different reasons, these places were so special to me and helped the Bible to come alive. The Sea of Galilee refreshed my spirit, Gethsemane helped me reflect on sacrifice and obedience. The Temple Mount and the Garden Tomb wakened the hope that is within me. This trip somehow brought the color back into my faith after I had let it become dull and stale. I am so so thankful for the opportunity to visit a place that’s so saturated with life and history, to get a feel for all the stories I’ve read about, but more importantly to connect with my Creator and Savior.
I was reminded that God is good and He is able and sovereign. It’s so easy to get caught up in 21st century America, but God was the same in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Beyond the distractions of today’s culture, there is a God who loves and chooses to be merciful through Jesus Christ. I pray that the miracle of the cross is never drowned in the noise and flash of our current world. It was incredible to be away from life as I’m use to it, and to be in a place where God changed history and moved so powerfully so long ago; to see that He is still moving and working.
Many thanks to Pastor Ray and First Baptist Church of Woodbridge who organized the trip, Amiel Tours who gave us Miri and showed us the sights, and for all the wonderful people on the trip who made the whole thing so memorable! I love you guys!