Tag: Israel

God’s Footsteps, Fingerprint, and Handiwork

Shofar-Israel-001It was about this time of year that we got to go to Israel.  It really is the trip of a lifetime.

Seven days of visiting historical sites, sailing across the Sea of Galilee, visiting locations where Jesus walked and lived and taught, culminating with 3 days in Jerusalem was a spiritual journey unlike any other.  At the end I felt as if I had followed in Jesus’ footsteps, discerned God’s fingerprint and seen His handiwork.

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When we left Israel our trip continued into Egypt.  It was late afternoon, and our long drive across the Sinai Peninsula took us late into the night.  We didn’t arrive at our hotel in Ras Sedr until 11 PM.

At one point during the night our guide asked if we would like to get off the bus and walk into the desert to take a look at the night sky.  He said we were miles from any source of light and the number of stars visible always seemed to amaze westerners.  We all said an enthusiastic “Yes!” and soon the bus and our two, armed escort cars pulled off the road.

We walked about 50 feet away from the 2-lane highway and they turned off all the headlights. It was indeed astounding!  Thousands of bright and distinct stars came into view.  Everyone there was uttering sounds of amazement.  “Ooooh!”  “Wow!”  “Look at that!”  “Unbelievable!”

As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, not only could we see millions of stars, but we could discern that some of what we usually see as a single star, was obviously a cluster of many stars.

orion-with-nebulaFor instance, the Orion Nebula. As a child, I learned to spot the four-corner placed stars that form Orion’s shoulders, knee and foot.  And the belt of 3 stars in a row resembling Orion’s belt to hold his sword.  Below the 3-star angled belt was a star that represented the tip of his sword.  It always just looked like a kind-of-fuzzy star to me.

But here in the desert with absolutely no light pollution, it was an explosion of light that allowed you to identify several distinct stars and a cloud that is the star nursery where new stars are continuing to form and be born.

After several minutes we got back on the bus and continued our journey.  With memories of our experience in Israel, and thoughts of the brilliant Sinai sky, I penned this song.

Back at home weeks later, I was able to set it to pictures I had taken, record it and post it on you-tube.

Please click to see and hear it at this link:

https://youtu.be/RbnL8nCGh4U

 

I want to be an Olive Tree

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What a blessing it was to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk and meditate and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I am forever changed by that experience.

 

 

115America is a fairly young country, so even our old buildings are not that old. Historically and intellectually it was amazing to see ruins and structures there that had stood for hundreds, even thousands of years. And to walk among those remains of buildings and walls that were there when Jesus walked among them was even more meaningful and resonated with me in a way that added to my faith.

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Seeing stones is one thing.  But to see trees, actual living things that were alive when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane was mind-blowing!

To know that two trees I stood near, sat near, were the same trees that Jesus sat next to 2000 years ago created in me a connection that was so intimate, it seemed surreal.

Our guide taught us things about olive trees I did not know.   And when I read this Psalm, it added a whole new level of understanding and meaning to all that an olive tree actually is.  And it becomes my prayer:

Psalm 52:8-9  NIV

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
 for ever and ever.

For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Lord, make me like a green olive tree in Your house –

– one that is alive, and vibrant and growing,

one that produces fruit in season

and has long deep roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil

– one that is protected because I am in Your house O Lord

one that You care for individually

and tend to personally

making sure I have everything I need to grow strong

– one that is surrounded by others in a community, the way olive trees grow

so that I can persevere and remain strong even when winds come

– one that will stand, in the midst of the others for years and years and years to come

even as the olive trees that have remained in the Garden of Gethsemane are still living, for two thousand and four hundred years,

and are the same ones Your precious Son knelt by on that fateful night He purposed for Your will to be done in His life on earth

 

Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful and amazing to look at

May others see me, and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me

As the olive tree produces food to eat,

and oil for lamps,

and ointments for anointing and healing,

Let me be nourishment, and light and blessing and healing to those around me.

May I draw on the strength of the community of other trees You have placed around me,

leaning into them,

drawing restful shade from them, without comparing myself to them

knowing that there are times when we take, and times we give back

 

May I trust in Your lovingkindness for ever and ever –

olivetreegogmeeven when I am confused

even when I can’t see Your will at work

even when I don’t feel You present

even when the world denies it

even through tears and pain and sorrow

O Lord, May You continue to guide and guard, heal and bless my life with Your Holy Word.  And I will give You thanks forever for what You have done; and will hope in Your name, for it is good; and will give You praise in the presence of Your saints.  Amen