Keepin' It Is-REAL
I feel guilty, really. Why do I get to travel to spectacular places when I only leave stupider than before? Alright, take it easy. But here’s the facts: I had the opportunity to live in Jerusalem for six months right out of college, working at a youth/media ministry, and I still didn’t absorb anything about the history and culture. That was after already having toured Israel earlier that year, then returning to Jerusalem to live and work. Twelve years later, I still hadn’t quite pieced together which parts of the Bible went where. I wanted to start all over as a tourist. This April, my church took a 10-day tour of Israel, and I hopped on for trip #3. Three times to Israel, when many folks would jump at the chance to go just once, and could probably recite the history backwards on returning. Oh well, those folks can probably sing like Mariah Carey and I can’t, so we’re even.
Even with the travel dumbs, Israel has stayed rooted in my heart and consciousness since that first trip fresh outta college. The country remains the most continually illuminating place I’ve been to in all my travels—not because, cliché alert, the Bible “comes alive” (it doesn’t for me—I have aphantasia and struggle making visual connections, an actual neurological thing I just learned about and want to write on soon). It’s different for me. I don’t catch my breath on the Via Dolorosa and think tingly thoughts like, “Jesus walked here.” It’s crowded in the Old City, and let’s be honest, be it home or Promised Land, I’m thinking of lunch. Yet Israel is phenomenally compelling to me. First of all, it’s a beautiful country: lush Galilee, stark Judean desert, modern and ancient Jerusalem, all of it. More deeply, it astounds me that our Savior grew up in this country like a normal boy until one day his perplexing, earth-shifting ministry began. Traveling through the land of Israel impresses on me that this is a place and a people that God chose, and then was Himself born into. He started here, and He’ll end here. The divine is not nebulous and impassive—He’s here, making active choices in our world as human and heavenly history plays out
God chose this. This tiny stretch of land out of the entire acreage of the world—and a man, then a band of people who grew to great prominence under His care and kingship. Then a scattering for centuries, a dismantling of a nation, yet here it is, back again in the modern world. That the Jewish people and the nation of Israel exist today is a strong testament to God’s unfailing power and word. This very winking moment in history is a remarkable one. In the archaeology, the history of this land, and one of my favorite stories in life, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we see ever unfolding evidence that God is still in control of his plan of salvation over this watch in the night that has just gone by.
Alright, enough verbiage. You want pictures, I got pictures.