So. We went to Israel on a tour last month. Our family – my father, sister, my father’s wife, my father’s first wife Alice [to whom he was married before he married my mother], and my sister Tracey [Alice’s and my dad’s daughter] – along with 9 others spent nine days traveling to and fro throughout that ancient land, exploring the gorgeousness that is modern Israel. This trip was surprising in a million different ways, but unsurprisingly, it has changed the way I read the Bible. I read things differently now that I have spent time in some of the places mentioned in the pages of Scripture. It is awesome! I know I’ll process this trip for many months, if not years, to come.
Since we’ve been home from the trip, I have been trying to articulate how I want to chronicle my trip, and while I took a lot of pictures (for me, anyway) I knew that that was only a part of the memory-keeping that followed the memory-making. Writing about it here seems less than ideal, too, if for no other reasons than a: it appears as if I abandoned my blog ages ago, and b: where to begin?? I read an article just today that said that talking about special memories makes them less special, a conclusion at which I’d already arrived long ago. I’ve written about it privately and will continue to do so.
So that doesn’t help much, but know that we went, that it was life changing and that you should go, too. Seriously, if you ever get the chance to go to Israel and/or other parts of the Holy Land, then you should go. I think I’ll go again at some point, and I’m looking forward to it.
On a different note, and since I’m not going to bore you with my travelogue, I will say this:
I feel like I am coming back to life.
You know how your foot falls asleep and it doesn’t have any sensation at all? You look at it and know it’s there, but it doesn’t seem attached to your body because you can’t feel it? Okay. Now that you have that mental image, let’s take it one step further and imagine how it feels once it’s fully woken up. That’s where I am. I didn’t even realize how unfeeling I’ve been, but now that things are starting to happen and I can feel again, it’s marvelous. I have springtime in my soul. Wheee!!!
There are many different reasons for it, but ultimately it all comes down to the healing power of the Holy Spirit. God has been relentlessly pursuing me, restoring me, redeeming me and I am more fully aware than I have ever been of the power of our living God. He lives in me! He has brought me from death to life, for the first time at the moment of my salvation, and lately, again. I am alive in him. Life is sweeter than it has ever been. The more alive I feel, the greater my awareness is of how far I have come, how much time I spent wasted trying to fix my own life.
God is teaching me new lessons about fear and about the role my faith should play in every aspect of my life. He is teaching me to take great leaps of faith and he sustains me and takes me new places as a result. He is answering prayers in specific and tangible ways, beyond what I could ask or imagine. It is exciting! It is humbling. Why should he love me so? I am overwhelmed by God’s lavish love for me and it makes me want to shout! Hallelujah! Praise the lamb! He is good.
I wish I could tell you all of the ways that God has used seemingly disparate events over the last years to fulfill the deepest of my heart’s desires, but now is not the right time. I will say this: God never wastes a single thing. Not one tear, not one moment of suffering, not one disappointment. Friends, if we trust him with our tears, our suffering, our disappointments, our hopes, he will take them and redeem them for something far grander than we can imagine. If you’ve been a part of a church or Christian culture for a while, you have probably heard that before, and maybe you’re even tired of hearing about nebulous promises being fulfilled by a God you can’t see. Maybe you’re even angry with God. Oh friend, trust me when I say that God doesn’t just meet our need, he rewrites it bigger than the sky and then arranges our circumstances in just such a way so as to bless us the most. Our gain for his glory.
For in the day of trouble, he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high on a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:5-6, 14.
My enemies of anger, jealousy and fear have been defeated and if I walk in that victory, given to me at Calvary, I don’t have to fight them. All of that work has been done. Tetelestai. It is finished.
EDIT: It’s possible that the end of this post makes it seem like I’m coasting through life until I hit the grave. Not so! Nothing could be farther from the truth, actually! I have been freed from some things so that I can pursue other (new, better, awesomer) things. I likely haven’t had my last battle with anger, jealousy and fear, but I understand those things in a new light now: those things have been exposed as the joy-thieves they are and I don’t have to wrestle with them any longer, nor do I have to carry them around and try to pretend they don’t exist. When I use the phrase “it is finished” I mean that the battle for me has been decided and Christ is the victor. Those other things are tools of the enemy. Why would I use his tools when I don’t fight for his army?