Well hello, America and happy Memorial Day! My adventure on the other side of the world ended last night; I’m officially back in the ‘Ham and officially not a fan of jet lag.
Can I get an amen? Good gosh, it sure does mess up any sort of “sleeping schedule” I may have previously had.
I’ve spoken to approximately 0 people today because I’m not sure I could string a coherent sentence of words together if I tried. I have so much I want to tell you about Israel, hundreds of pictures to upload and sort through, and dozens of stories to process and then share. But, the words. They are so hard.
Tomorrow I’ll be back here joining my friend Emily and sharing a short list of things I’ve learned in May (many will be from my time in Israel). But since all I want to do is sleep and also tell you about “the land of Jesus,” as a dear friend calls Israel, we’ll settle for Instagram images and captions from my time there.
I said I would post all. the. things. and so I maybe kinda sorta posted multiple times a day whenever we could find wifi. And I maybe kinda sorta have hundreds more pictures itching to be shared. But these will have to do until it’s an acceptable time for me to fall asleep again because did you know Israel is 7 hours ahead and it’s bed time right now and I really should stay awake and oh, the words are hard and look at this here run-on sentence.
Here we go.
(These are a handful of the ones posted during my two weeks in Israel. You can find them all on my Insta account.)
Inside are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of decorations. There is a star that marks the exact place they believe Jesus was born and a manger where they believe it stood in the cave thousands of years ago. It’s a dark and cramped space, certainly not where one would expect the King of the world to come to the world.
But my favorite part wasn’t the star or the mosaic tiles or the lanterns. It wasn’t singing Away In A Manger. No, it was the entrance.
The Door of Humility was reduced from an earlier Crusader doorway with a pointed arch. Created in Ottoman times to prevent carts and horses from coming into the church, it forces each visitor to bow – no matter their importance. One day every knee will bow and tongue confess, but until then we bend low and continue to come near.
Amazing grace how sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me / I once was lost but now am found / was blind but now I see.
In many ways, my ‘word’ for 2016 came full circle this morning. On January 5th, I wrote this on the Facebook page connected with my blog: “A few weeks ago He quietly whispered my word for 2016 and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. And yet I’m certain it’s the one He has chosen for me, confident that it’s mine for reasons not yet revealed to me. But I’m listening and watching, waiting and hoping, expectant. Because this I believe through and through: He is Emmanuel in every season.”
My word for 2016: temple.
We were unexpectedly able to visit the Temple Mount this morning. I don’t have words for it and I’m not sure I ever will. The best I can do is say I felt like my entire body was filled with sorrow and hope. The place where the temple stood is now a mosque and in so many ways, we who believe in Jesus as Messiah are the temple. The Church is His body and His dwelling place. We abide in Him; He dwells in us.
In love and gratitude I want to say in times of fear and distress, ‘My Father, I do not understand You, but I trust You.’ (The statue in the background is the place of the stone of agony, which is believed to be the rock Jesus leaned on as He prayed right before being arrested.)
As I walked out of the small and dark Grotto of Gethsemane, I was handed this bright green branch. To me, it was a reminder of life and simple beauty as I exited the place where Jesus was betrayed by Judas. I didn’t realize this before, but it’s believed that this same grotto is where Jesus often brought His disciples to rest and to teach them, as well as where He spoke with Nicodemus in the dark of night. So much may have happened there – some good and some bad, some light and some dark. But He always overcomes and He always brings beauty from the ashes.
Nearly everything in Jerusalem is limestone and teal, so basically I’m a fan. These two weeks have flown by and I’ve loved my time in this city (and exploring the country). If you’ve never been here, you need to book a plane ticket and fix that.
Headed home but you know I totally took a picture of my book about life’s in betweens and middle places right in between the Temple Mount (left) and Church of the Holy Sepulchre (right). Jesus was here, right in these places, and I’m so grateful He continues to walk every page of my story and yours right alongside us.
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