Grateful. In Awe. Amazed. Appreciative. Loved.
Repeat. Over, and over, and over. Indefinitely.
And that does not begin to scratch the surface of all the emotions I continue to process.
I actually went to Israel. Wow. Add “incredulous” to that list of emotions. 🙂 This was not something I dreamed of, or even ever thought of. But God did.
Those of you who know me know that it is absolutely a miracle that I went on this trip. And I do not say that lightly; I mean it. This was entirely divinely orchestrated with no small amount of patience and love. A symphony of details all working together resulted in the most unlikely person ever receiving a great blessing. A great blessing marked with my name.
If you had told me a year ago that I would travel across the world to Israel, and not only that, stay away from home for 10 days, spend those 10 days as part of a group of 25 people (and of those 25 people only really know 3), eat different food, travel on an airplane for over 12 hours to and from…
If you had told me that my name and Israel would ever be in the same sentence as an event in my life, I would have adamantly told you that you were either taking a break from reality, or you were crazy. No way. Not my thing. Too far out of my tiny comfort zone to even begin to consider.
But fortunately, my God had other ideas and He was not limited by me. He did not need to consider my total lack of traveling experience, my concerns and fears, or my obsession with the illusion of control… because He is, well, God. He is not limited, at all. Thank God.
The Ultimate Persistence This trip was mentioned the first time about a year ago while travelling home from a road trip with a few church small group friends. I looked at the dates and related them to my work schedule, and I thought: “Nope, won’t work. Gee, that’s a nice idea, but I can’t do it.” I thought that was that. Not hardly. Soon, it came up again as a formal invitation to our small group, and I’m still thinking: “Wow. That’s great. I hope some people can go.” Then, I was asked personally, and I relayed how my work schedule made it impossible. But even after that, the subject, and the invite, surfaced again, and again. By this time, God was bringing it to mind. I found myself thinking about it a lot without meaning to. Finally, I got it. I listened, and I heard Him.
Here is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am God, and I am giving this opportunity to you. It is a gift. Don’t refuse it. Don’t let work, or fear, or lack of experience, or anything at all, allow this opportunity to pass by. There is a reason that this keeps coming up. This is from Me. This is what you are supposed to do. Do it!!
Thank God for a wonderful friend who would not let it go until I could not let it go (Thanks Donna). And I am continually grateful for a God who knows that I do not take hints and I don’t get subtlety. A God who patiently kept tenderly nudging, and OK, sometimes not quite so tenderly pushing, until I allowed myself to follow His guidance.
So I took the plunge and decided to go. As it got closer, I had many panicked instances of “What am I doing???” I learned as time went on that I simply needed to trust the miracle that was unfolding in my life, and know that what I was doing was part of God’s plan.
Several have asked me how this trip lined up with my expectations. What makes this even more wonderful is the fact that I had no specific expectations. All I had was a general idea of how I would like for this to be a life changing experience. I had no frame of reference for any of it. I had no specific desires or needs that I hoped would be met. I had never been on a trip even remotely this far away. I had never been away from home for 10 whole days in my entire life. I had never experienced anything that even began to prepare me for this.
Off and on throughout this God ordained journey, I was astonished by overwhelming emotions. I am not by nature emotional. The sights, the sounds, the sensations, the atmosphere. I found myself interrupting the trivial mindset, being astounded with the phenomenal reality, and stepping back to focus on this great gift. To realize:
Intimacy with my Savior.
The reoccurring thought that I was, somehow, inexplicably present in a surreal reality to see first hand all that He wanted to show me.
His sweet words to my heart: “See? This is why I dragged you here kicking and screaming.” 🙂
The love I felt from Him and for Him.
The beauty surrounding me, both physical and spiritual.
The rich history that brought to life the fact that everything in the Bible is there for a reason: God’s reason, God’s purpose.
The realization that here in the very young United States, we don’t know what “old” means.
The glorious melding together of a group of 25 people, in conditions and circumstances that show that it was God who brought us together for this time, this place, this journey.
I felt so honored and privileged to be where Jesus was, to see where He did miracles and ministry and teaching, to see where He lived out His life, to see where He agonized, and suffered, and died… for me. To see areas where God worked wonders and used great leaders to establish His plan in history forever. To see remains of what was, so many years ago, and be able to visualize it as it was then. To gain a clearer understanding of the culture and the customs and the daily life of God’s chosen people then, and now.
This trip was incredible, awesome, amazing, captivating. For so many reasons, on so many levels.
I received a wonderful gift. My ongoing prayer is that I will never forget.
I want to always remember this time when Jesus chose to allow me to experience Him in ways I never could have imagined. I want to remember to nourish and nurture our connection, the freely offered relationship I have chosen to participate in. I want to participate fully, intensely. I want to yearn for Him, to love Him freely. I never want to forget all that He allowed me to be a part of, for reasons known only to Him. I am humbled, and honored, and refreshingly reminded of His great love.