When you succeed, we will celebrate and shout for joy. Flags will fly when victory is yours!
Yes, God will answer your prayers and we will praise him! Psalm 20:5 TPT
So here we are, Amanda and I, tucked up in bed, in a very cold and wet Tel Aviv, Israel. We have been reminiscing and reflecting on the past ten days, walking the streets of Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Old Jerusalem. We have dipped our fingers in the Dead Sea, we have climbed mountains and what feels like a million steps. We ate enough bread, hummus and pastries to feed a small village and we have laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time. We made new friends, and truth be told, as (sometimes) less than sociable gals, we have had to grow in grace as part of a large group.
This morning, over coffee, we talked about the highlights of our trip…how many there were! Dancing on the Sea of Galilee set the tone for our trip. We were determined to worship Jesus, to raise flags to declare His victory everywhere we went and on a boat, in the middle of the Sea where Jesus calmed the storm, we worshipped until He calmed the storms in us.
Gazing at the steps leading up to Caiaphas’s house, where Jesus was dragged along, knowing He was about to take on the sin of all mankind, the tears that stared to flow in the pit where He was kept continued. I can recount many profound places, tell many stories, but what I want to share is the impressions left by the women who journeyed with us for a while.
At Caiaphas’s house, standing in the pit where Jesus was repeatedly hoisted up to be questioned, just to be dropped down again both Amanda and I were overcome by tears. He suffered much, in silence, and yet we complain so easily. Then two more ladies joined us in a group hug, weeping with us. Jesus did this by Himself, yet He made a way for us to be family…we don’t have to weep alone.
There were a few moments laying face down on a small part of the original Via Dolorosa, feeling the bitter cold seeping into our bones, knowing we were laying on a place where His blood was spilled, we were utterly undone by the magnitude of His suffering. I could hear weeping all around me, but what will stay with me is the older lady, walking with two clutches and a knee brace, rushing up wet, slippery steps to keep up with the group answering my question whether she was okay with “after what Jesus did for me, I will not complain”. She was a rock star! Amanda and I vowed to remind each other of the cold, cold floor any time we are tempted to complain and remember a lady giving Jesus her best shot.
Then there was a thermos of hot chocolate after a wet and cold visit to the garden tomb and Golgotha, carried far and lovingly passed around from one cold hand to another, treats being shared, warm items of clothing exchanged that spoke more to my heart than the empty grave we just visited. I saw a glimpse of what the early church must have been like…having all things in common, sharing what they had and doing it with joyful hearts. Jesus wasn’t in that grave, He is alive in hearts and His presence manifests when we love on each other.
Going back in time was an awesome experience, visiting places where Jesus walked and raising flags in His honour on the walls of Jerusalem, in front of the Menorah earmarked for the new temple, on the Sea of Galilee, at the pool of Siloam, at the Garden of Gethsemane and during baptisms at the river Jordan, even praying and worshipping in a building 20 storeys high, overlooking Jerusalem was unforgettable and profound but what made my heart sing more than anything else was seeing women get free in worship, seeing the impact Holy Spirit was making on hearts and again realising Jesus is alive, actively working in us and through us and that death had been overcome once and for all, right here in this place.
I will finish with the Aaronic blessing…God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper. (Numbers 6:24 – 26 MSG)
From Israel, our heartfelt greeting…Shalom Shalom