Thoughts from Israel- The Morning Thing on 3/14/16

Wesley Israel

Wesley Boston here. I recently returned from an incredible opportunity. From February 29th to March 11th I traveled across Israel and Jordan, seeing sites that brought the Bible to life and being introduced to cultures and people that were very different from me. A few things struck me as a result.

  1. The world is a lot bigger than America. Our guide, Rafi, who is seen in the above picture at the left end of the back row, reminded us that the U.S. is big- so big that we don’t need anybody else he said. Israel, to compare, is smaller than New Jersey. In the U.S. we don’t get out much, we don’t see much that is different, and we dont get out of our comfort zones. It’s good in so many ways to get into someone else’s country, culture, kitchen, history, etc.
  2. Differences in race, culture, and religion can be put aside. On this trip a Muslim man looked me, a Christian, in the eye and asked me to pray for peace in these lands. Two religions with two different Gods, but that didn’t matter. We could be united in this cause. One girl that I traveled with remarked that while watching the Jews pray at the Western “Wailing” Wall she realized that we aren’t so different. We all are simply trying to get closer to God.
  3. We believe and have faith in a God who does not operate in an abstract dimension or some Narnia -esque realm that we can’t get to or see. He works in real history, in real places, and with real people. While we can’t have definite proof and still have to trust and have faith, we can take comfort in knowing that we can see the places where the Bible tells us these things happened.
  4. History keeps going on. Rafi reminded us on the first day that since our our country is so young we have a different view of what is old. In his words, “You Americans find something that is 250 years old and you call it an antique. In Israel if something is 250 years old we don’t even look at it- it’s brand new! Come back when you have something from the 3rd or 4th century.” In that land I saw the remains of empire after empire and civilization after civilization. I stood in the ruins of palaces of mighty kings and the temples of foreign gods. History marches on and takes everything that mankind builds with it. But God remains. He is unchanged from the beginning and will still be here in another 2,000 years.
  5. We have a personal relationship but not a personal religion. By that I mean that while we are able to know God personally as our God and Savior it isn’t just about us. We are part of a worldwide community of believers that spans throughout history. Every one of us across the globe brings our own interpretations and culture and backgrounds to it but we are all one body serving the same risen Lord.
  6. We don’t have to travel around the world to be closer to God. This thought was not original with me. I was struggling with the fact that I had not had some kind of supernatural revelation or some experience where God broke through into my life in some brand new crystal clear way. Then one girl on the trip shared that she was struggling with the same issue- and then she realized that there’s a good reason for it. God is with us no matter where we are. We can be just as close to Him here in Ohio as we can in the Holy Lands. I have stood as close to the Holy of Holies as is humanly possible in 2016- but that didn’t make me any closer to God than I am right now as I write these words in Mount Vernon. God is with you and me no matter where we are and that is a great comfort.

It’s hard to sum up such an experience in one post, but these are a few of the things that God put on my heart during this journey. And yes, it was good to go- amazing to go- but it is good to be back. Hopefully the lessons I’ve learned can influence the way I live day to day.

Shalom!

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