Secret Destinations

Secret Destinations

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber, a Jewish philospher

Thank you, readers, for sharing in my recent journey to Israel and Bible lands around the Mediterranean. I took  you all with me, truly, in my spirit and in my yearning for you all to catch at least a bit of what I was seeing, sensing, and experiencing during those two weeks. I hope you got to follow along in the pictures and blurbs I posted on Facebook. Today, I want to share with you some reflection as I think back on the trip and continue to process what God had for me, and for all of us, on that amazing journey.

The quote above appeared on a screen during our first day on a boat in Greece, halfway through the trip, and these words express well the truth of what God had in bringing me to the places of the Old Testament, the ground Jesus walked and taught and healed, the place of John’s Revelation visions, and the cities where Paul ministered.

I began the trip eager to see in person this land, these places I’ve envisioned since childhood in all the Bible stories I’ve heard again and again. This part was rich and life-changing. As you might guess, every spot was different than I’d always envisioned. The land of Israel surprised me with its beauty. Much of it is green, with hills and mountains. I’d imagined so much being flat, stark, dusty and brown, but this wasn’t the case in the western side of the country and all the land in the north around the Sea of Galilee.

On departing the U.S., I rode on the plane for eleven hours next to a young Jewish woman coming home to Israel for a family wedding. What a delight. She said that a week earlier she had begun feeling the energy of her impending return to her homeland. Israel is a place with energy like no other, she explained. When I arrived and we began traveling the land, I was surprised to sense the truth of her words. Being in Israel was like being no place else. The Spirit of God was everywhere, a sense of place and Presence like nothing I have experienced before.

But here is what impressed me the most deeply and consistently throughout my journey. Everywhere we went, in coming and going from our hotels, in walking the streets of Nazareth and Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in snapping photos at the Wailing Wall, in the Old City markets, from the bus in Tiberius,¬† and with Bedouin children and fathers selling their goods, I was struck as by a tidal wave with the truth of God’s love for each of these modern-day Middle Eastern people. The modern-dressing Jews, the Palestinian Arabs, the Muslims, the Hasidic Jews in black with their sidelocks of hair and little “yarmulke” hats–whole families dressed like this. All of these faces are just like the ones Jesus saw as he taught and ate in homes and walked from Judea to Galilee. These are just like the faces he wept over and touched with healing and went out alone in the dark to pray for.

These faces, who struck me as so very entrenched in their lives and their routines and their motivations–these dear people who seemed oblivious to a Messiah who lived on their land and died to save them–these are the very ones he loves and yearns to hold to himself.

And, as I think of all the places I stood with my own feet where God did the unthinkable–Mt. Carmel where God rained down fire in the presence of the Israelites and the prophets of Baal, the waters of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus calmed the storm and walked on waves, Gideon’s spring where God pared down an army so that he could show his power in victory over oppressors, the hills where Jesus fed more than 5,000 people and healed crowds of sick sufferers, the lush ground of Ephesus where revival broke through entrenched idolatry–the same God loves these Israeli and Palestinian, Turkish and Greek people of today. These people who seem so far outside of knowledge of Jesus as Savior are the ones Jesus died for and lives today to give his living water, his bread of life.

It is impossible, and yet. This God of the impossible became man and lived in the land, walked and died and lived again in the land with the people. And lives today. This same God.

And more. This God of the impossible is the one who fills my life and opens my eyes every day to the people who walk my streets and eat in my home and share their stories of struggle with me. This miracle-working God put me where I am in the age I live, and his love extends easily and fully to my dirt here in Colorado, to the faces I encounter every day. He loves them passionately and Jesus prays to the Father for THESE souls he loves so fully.

Destinations unaware. My trip brought me back home. Not just by plane. But by heart and vision and a seeing that is different now that I’m back inside my familiar walls. What a trip it was. And what a homecoming. God’s love looks a little different now. Maybe even a lot different. He took me to his homeland to show me that through Jesus, God has made his home everywhere. I share this brown earth right here with faces God really, really cares about. They were worth the trip.

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2 Comments

  1. Karen Newe (http://Website)
    Nov 5, 2013

    Brenda,
    Thank you for this beautiful message, and the eyes and heart that you see and perceive with!

    • Brenda
      Nov 6, 2013

      Thank you, Karen. So good to hear from you. Thank you for sharing in the journey, as you have so often before. Much love.

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