Shalom from Israel, friends!
I know the new year is approaching and that many are probably posting their end of year recaps or beginning of year goals – but I’m in Israel, its rocking my world, and I feel like I have to write about that instead.
There are parts of my story that you may or may not know, but in July 2014 my grandfather, Milton, on my biological father’s side passed away of stomach cancer. I had only known him for about 12 years but in those 12 years, he loved me fiercely.
Two weeks before Milton passed away, he was in the hospital and as we were sitting in the room with him praying that he would get better, he told me the story of Masada and how the Jews there put up an enormous fight for freedom and how much he loved that place. I watched this man, who I believed to be larger than life, shrivel away due to sickness, but when he talked about Israel there was a childlike glow on his face.
I knew I had to go.
When Milton died, it became my mission to experience the same thing he had talked about so fondly in his last days. In part, it was to pay tribute to him, but I also wanted to gain a deeper understanding of biblical culture and Jewish heritage. I wanted to see that the Bible was more than just a story – that it was a real place with real people and that God really did the things I have always believed.
Let me tell you, this trip has far exceeded anything I could have ever expected.
Yesterday, I experienced Masada. Through tears, I stood there and drank it all in. The desert colors, the gigantic structures, the story of heroic and brave loss. I felt connected to Milton. That alone was enough to take my breath away, but that isn’t the whole reason I came to Israel.
I came here because of Jesus.
Being where he was. Riding a boat across the Dead Sea. Sitting in Caesarea where the Holy Spirit descended on the Gentiles.
It all humbles me and only makes me more grateful to be a part of the family of Christ. It makes me CRAVE the scriptures in a way I never have before – it brings them to life.
Realizing that, without Jesus, I would NEVER have access to the Lord the way I do – that I would never know him as father or know his true kindness and goodness – it only makes me feel the weight of that gift. I am a part of his family. He loves me.
This family IS the new Israel. We are his chosen ones. He sent his son for THIS.
We have a few days left in this amazing and beautiful country and I am already planning my next trip in my head. I want to soak up every second of this incredible experience. I want to scribble every note possible and record every detail of scripture, history and land that I can find. Let me be a little sponge of this amazing place so that, when I return home, the Bible is a new experience for me – forever.
It is SO MUCH MORE THAN A STORY.
This is real.
Jesus is real.
His death and resurrection are real.
And he is readily available for relationship.
All you have to do is surrender. He is waiting. Join this family, friends. God is a good father and Jesus is an incredible Savior and friend.