Thursday, July 23, 2015

Visiting Israel

      This past June my Mom and I traveled to Israel.  It was on her bucket list.  Up until the last few years, I had not really thought about it much, but having gone-I can truly say it was the trip of a lifetime.  There is no way I could do it justice through writing, or pictures, or words.  The best advice I have is...whatever you dream of doing, move this ahead of that thing on the number one spot.  True, it's probably best enjoyed by Christians or Jewish people who want to go on a pilgrimage, but the mix of cultures, and ancient history is something you can not find in any other place on earth.
     When we decided to go, many people questioned the safety of the decision.  It's my philosophy that I don't take chances with my safety, but I also know I'm under God's protection and He ordained my birth and my death and nothing will take me sooner.  I felt safe in my decision.  The people in Israel are also prepared for danger...more so than most in America.  While I was in Israel, I never felt like my safety was at risk, but I did receive notifications from my national news app about a situation back here in Dallas that involved bombs and an attack on the police force.  It reminded me how fragile life is everywhere we go, even back home.
    We were originally going with the church, but they moved the date b/c of a conflict, so we joined a group called American Israel Travel.  They are geared towards religious groups, though our group was a mix of denominations, so some approaches were what the Catholics would be used to, others the Protestants.  All this to say-read and know your bible before you go-there is one basic truth to Christianity, but other things have many approaches.  What I discovered is how much more I need to be reading, but I feel like now that I've visited the setting of my favorite book, it will pop off the pages even more.
     I won't go day by day or step by step, but these are just a few of my rememberings from this trip!      One, we visited the above city Tel Megiddo.  It had been the home of 26 different groups of people.  I was reminded as we went through how the archeologist discovered each area A)  How new the country of  Israel's only been a state (again) for 50 years + now.  So many of these discoveries are fresh!  Can you imagine what they will discover in another fifty years?  As the archeologist was uncovering this site he used the measurements in the bible for King Solomon's measurements...and they knew where to dig....and found exactly what the bible said the measurements would be.  Wow.  I won't even talk about my math skills, but less my building skills!  It amazes me how so many earthly matters back up biblical statements we believe by faith, but can prove so often as well.  
      We spent 8 days touring all over Israel, visiting ancient sites.  I sat on stones of buildings that have been there for over 2000 years. In America, if it's 100 years old we rope it off and put it in a museum.  In Israel, it's just another stone from another ancient city.  We also set sail across the Sea of Galilee.  Though the towns and buildings are new-I sat there in awe thinking-Jesus sat on these waters and looked at these same mountains.  He gave his disciples the keys to the kingdom.  We visited towns around the shore where He proved his Divinity with miracles and spoke words that would become our bible to the crowds that gathered.
 We spent another day at The Dead Sea.  It would be impossible to describe the weightlessness that comes with this water.  Like an ice cube, it's impossible to stay just sort of pop up.
 We spent three days in the Old City of Jerusalem.  These steps would have been the ones Jesus walked up to leave his sacrifice at the temple.  We explored the different areas of the old city, each unique, yet intermingled with history.
I stood at the Western Wall and watched religious Jews and visitors tuck prayers into the cracks in the wall.  It's the closest they are able to get to the temple mount, which currently belongs to the Muslims.  This is the Muslims 3rd holiest site.  
I've read the bible.   I know what happens.  I felt the pain and the tension standing between those two worlds as well.  I'm praying for the Peace of Israel.  I'm grateful for the time spent in the middle of my bible stories growing up.  I'm thankful for a family that came first, a faith that has never failed me, and the opportunity to experience this beautiful land with my Mom who read me those stories when I was a little girl.