Written by: Rhonda Page
I spent two weeks in Israel and only managed to come back with the one word I already knew. But I’m cool with that…..It has deeper meaning for me now.
I also have this image embedded in my head:
It’s the Arabic word for coke. No, I can’t pronounce it. But I have decided if you assume a prayerful stance, tilt your head to the left, and squint slightly while looking at it…it looks a whole lot like “Jesus”. (The word, not the man). At least it did for me…….but maybe that’s because I was praying for something besides water to drink at the time I found it.
Laugh if you must.
I went off in search of transformation…what I came back with was a lesson in connectivity.
I’m convinced, now more than ever, that God uses the small stuff to help bond us to him. AND he does this in the most loving of ways.
In the vein of that revelation, I will try to tell you how Israel has connected me more than ever to The One I love.
- Jesus was a visual teacher. As someone who tries to convey big spiritual ideas to kids on a weekly basis, in a manner they can comprehend, I really, really appreciate this. Jesus sat in the dirt with those he loved, and pointed to places within their sightline as he taught them kingdom principals. He used the geography of the land to ground them in The Word and the truth of God. They would later pass these same places and recall his teachings to share with their own. I could write for pages on what we learned about just this one concept alone…but for now just let me reiterate….every move Jesus made was to connect people to The Father. Yes, that includes every single miracle. I have learned a reverent lesson there was well. But I’m still processing that one, so we’ll save it for another time.
- God uses every facet of himself to lead us to him. He withholds nothing for those who come seeking. The concept of the Trinity is mind-blowing; I readily admit that, but I now have such a profound love for each of the three that make up our triune Godhead. In that land I saw the need for the three, and the desperation that comes from not acknowledging each of them. God without Jesus means I’m doomed to pay what can’t be paid by me even though I love God and desire relationship to him. Jesus staying and not making way for the Holy Spirit means I’m doomed to never change and transform, and I’m powerless to walk free from the sin I’ve been forgiven of, but that seeks to bind me and hold me back. When God sought a way to save his creation he went all in. It is his desire not to just save us from a hell (not created for us), but he also wants to restore us. This makes me love him all the more. I can’t imagine serving a God who would choose less than his best. He deserves my worship and my praise. I want to honor him with my life and my daily choices.
- Hardship can be viewed as a blessing only when I allow it to make me evermore dependent upon God. The Israelites lived a hard life in a hard land. They prospered when they sought God and were obedient. No matter how cushy my life may be here at home, I am wise to remember this as a spiritual law. Allowing God access into every area of my life and being prayerful in decision-making are just as necessary for me today as they were for them then. If I allow comfort to control me….if I assume that God will prosper me in my disobedience, then I have created him in my own image, and I am just as guilty of serving idols now as they were then. He gave us their story as warning. This was not to make us fearful but to give us hope. Warnings are God’s second chances. They are a gift.
- God loves people…….period. There are no good guys and no bad guys. In Israel I met people from all walks of life in various stages of needing God. I was one of them. I went a long way from home hoping that the Holy Land could heal me and make all the broken places whole. Only to have the Holy Spirit remind me that I am already viewed as Holy in him and most healing miracles are walked out over time and by becoming more and more connected to Him. It doesn’t make them any less miracles or any less powerful.
- The Body of Christ is one of the most powerful connections we have here on earth. God knits us together to care for one another, to lead one another, to correct one another and to most importantly carry connection to Him. If you can do whatever you do to the Glory of God…you are on the right track. I want to be there with you.
That is why the word Shalom has taken on deeper meaning for me. Having peace for the sake of peace is twisted. Having peace to share peace is beautiful. It paves the way for God’s presence to be felt even in hearts divided, homes divided, and lands divided. It connects us back to God.
Pray that Jerusalem has peace: “Let those who love you have rest.” Psalm 122:6
Since this verse is so close to my heart now…it will be my memory verse.