I’m already absolutely dreading the coming of Friday and parting with these beautiful friends. Over and over in my mind for the past week and a half, I’ve heard the lyrics – “the Lord has been mindful of me…He blesses and blesses again!” I am so, so thankful to have been blessed to be part of this group.
Today I told Kathy – “I’ll never forget this” but someday, my memory might fail me. Even if it does here on this earth, maybe the Lord will let me look back on these days from “the other side of the Jordan”, because these days have been a taste of what heaven must be like.
A few memorable words from the past few days (and there’s no way I could include all of the memorable words we’ve heard):
From Dan Owen on Sunday morning at the Dead Sea, speaking of Luke 10:28 and the events surrounding it – “What a distance it is to ‘do this’!” How do I do this – love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and my neighbor as myself?
From John, at the site called “Bethany Beyond the Jordan”, painting the picture for us of the crowds amassing and Pharisees gathering near the muddy Jordan River “coming for baptism” by John the Baptist: ”’Then came Jesus’, from the Galilee to be baptized, to fulfill all righteousness; a declaration of his own faith and trust in the Lord…”
From Donnie Bates, speaking at Jericho of the events that took place there in Joshua 6, and how the inhabitants of Jericho and surrounding cities had heard of what God had done for Israel: “They knew ‘God is doing this!’ He brought them out of captivity, He parted the Red Sea, He provided their every need, He stopped the waters of the Jordan, He took Jericho’s walls down! It may have sounded like an earthquake, but this earthquake’s name was God!”
From Michael Hite at Herodium, speaking of Herod at one of his palaces not far from Jerusalem: “Sometimes what looks on the outside like power and respect, on the inside is a trap…what the world says is success – this (the ruins around us) will be the outcome…peace with Jesus Christ supersedes the material world…are we missing the bigger picture? What will be left behind as my legacy? Not physical stones built upon one another, but spiritual stones built upon one another – a holy people that will never crumble, that will live on beyond this world.”
From Tyler King, near the Pool of Siloam, speaking of the events that took place in John 9: “The more we obey, the better we can see…Jesus is the true eye-opener. We see forgiveness because Jesus opened our eyes to it!”
From Wes Autrey, overlooking the area where David killed Goliath: “This battle wasn’t between David and Goliath. This battle was between Goliath’s ‘little-g’ gods and David’s one true God!…We’ve got to pull out a stone, trust God, and FIRE THE ROCK.”
From Donnie Bates at Beersheba: “The wilderness was often a more God-blessed place than a God-forsaken place…in the wilderness is where God’s people consistently find God, learn dependence upon Him, and grow their faith…it’s easy to have sight in the wilderness, but have no vision…Hagar knew God as ‘the God who sees me’, and God sees me when life happens to me.”
From Keith Kasarjian, on the southern steps of the temple in Jerusalem: “The gospel is beautiful no matter where it is preached…we get wrapped up in places. They matter, but they don’t matter, because the gospel transcends places…The gospel is beautiful no matter who proclaims it.”
Some things I’ve loved:
Spending an unexpected whole day, just me and Pattie Crawforth. We talked and talked and laughed and I cried, and I grew to love her even more than I already did.
Seeing (again) John’s wisdom and kindness in dealing with interesting situations, like high pressure salesmen, and a crowd of Bedouins who swarmed us as we got off the bus near the Wadi Qelt – he went and greeted them and introduced himself and asked them to just give us ten minutes of private time, and told them that then we would be interested to see what they had to sell. He wasn’t rude or abrupt or dismissive; he was kind.
Singing! On the bus and in every place that has great acoustics. We blew the roof off St. Ann’s church near the Bethesda Pool – it was epic!
Michael Hite prayed for us to be able to “draw this picture for them” – for the people at home who will hear us talk about the things we’ve learned during this trip.
We ran into DaVEED, our bus driver from a couple of years ago – the one who always looked very sour until we asked about his grandchildren, and then he turned into a big puddle of grins. Remember his grandfather name? Sabadoodoo. 😉 He had to show us his updated pictures, and tell me that he was on level 2,927 of Candy Crush Saga.
Song lyrics have even more meaning… “No water can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies!” Means even more to me because I can picture the water!
Sharing meals with Wayne Burger.
Getting to know Justin and Anna Maynard.
Watching Wes Autrey make friends with every kid he encounters.
Our after-dark walk around Jerusalem’s old city.
Something I’ve learned:
Using pottery sherds to identify a time period (yes, it’s sherds and not shards – short for potsherds. I looked it up…) would be like using coke cans to date our modern time period…with early glass bottles known to come from a few decades ago, aluminum cans with pull tabs and the current style today.
**In the light of morning, I read this again and realized it basically makes zero sense. So – if someone 2000 years from now found an empty aluminum can with “Coke” on it, the area around it with littered pull tabs (remember those, that you pulled completely off the can?) around it, they would know that other things buried nearby were from the same era – the late 1900’s. If they found a glass Coke bottle buried somewhere, he could roughly know that the other things found buried nearby would be from the same era – say, the 1950’s or 60’s. Of course pottery sherds probably didn’t “evolve” as quickly as our Coke packaging has, so archaeologists won’t narrow the time period down to decades but a much broader period of time. But hopefully you get the idea. And that’s the extent of my archaeological “expertise”. 😉
Some things that have made me laugh:
Denny Petrillo at Jericho, as we passed the touristy sycamore tree: “You want me to climb that so that you guys can see what a short guy looks like in the tree?”
Roy Greenway accidentally dropped a water bottle into a dry cistern on top of Masada. Eitan said (with his very dry sense of humor) “Well, they have water now…”
All of us to (name removed to protect the guilty, but you all know him…), who sliced open his finger on a cheese knife: “So tell us what happened with the knife?” Him: “Well, I cut the cheese. In the dining room.”
John knows where all the sites are, but I know what’s really important – where all the bathrooms are.
Eitan (who has grown on us, but still talks TOO MUCH) saw someone holding a large stone in the Valley of Elah (where the David/Goliath battle took place) and said “Ees Goliath’s kidney stone.”
I’ll try to follow this post up with one detailing the places we’ve seen and things we’ve done. But today, I’ve walked 20,389 steps and I’m completely and totally beat. And for that reason you have to forgive all typos! God bless all of you!