Two years ago today I landed in Israel for the first time. I went reluctantly. A trip to the Holy Land was PJ’s dream. I was nervous. For me, it was like strapping into a scary roller coaster — clenching my fists, closing my eyes, holding my breath, and willing it to be over as quickly as possible. But that all changed. I arrived. I felt safe. I felt like I belonged. It felt like home…in a way I never imagined ANY place besides my beloved Prince Edward Island could ever feel like home.
My eyes and ears and heart began to open and fill to overflowing. But it was more than just the sights and sounds and tastes…more than my five senses being touched. My spirit was awakened too. When that trip began, I was coming out of a spiritual drought. For years it felt like God had been hiding His face from me. There had been a distance between us, and I was struggling to keep bitterness and cynicism at bay in my walk with God. But in the land of the Bible it was like God couldn’t stay hidden. Jesus was meeting me. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me.
Never have I been somewhere where the light of God shines brighter! The Light of the World, the light of Christ is so bright in the Holy Land. In contrast, the darkness is so dark. That was something my parched spirit was not prepared for. And it profoundly affected me. I was worried about terrorism and violence and the armies of men; but no one told me to arm myself against the armies of hell. The peaceful, safe society surrounding me when I arrived surprised me. But there was a very different kind of battle raging there. A battle for souls. A battle, I believe, in some sense, not just for the souls of those who are fortunate enough to call that land home, but for a whole world of souls.
The last time I was in Israel I was chatting with a Jewish believer who was leading a Shabbat Dinner I was attending. At break time he sat next to me and let me talk about my experience with the land of Israel. If you know me in person, you know that’s my happy mode, to be talking about Israel. I beam. I gush. I could go on and on and on. He smiled knowingly with a twinkle in his eye that I knew meant he understood my passion. Then he asked me, “What do you think God is doing in you for this place and the people of Israel?” That question haunts me. I don’t know! I didn’t even want to go there in the first place; now I’ve reached Level 3 in my language study of Modern Hebrew. And I haven’t the slightest idea of what God is going to do with any of it. I do know that the enemy of my soul is intent on derailing whatever it is. But I also know that his attempts to undo the good that God is up to in any of our lives is doomed to fail. He just mimics God’s redemptive tactics in reverse; but, ultimately, it’s God who turns the tables for the last time!
Israel — your land, your people, your language have changed me forever. Your bright light continues to feed my soul, and the heaviness of your darkness continues to fuel my prayers for you! Until next time…