Last night, Brian and I boarded a massive, double-decker jet and flew halfway around the world to Israel.
This tiny scrap of land about the size of New Jersey is celebrating its 60th birthday as a new nation this year. Ever since its rebirth, Israel has been a political and religious battleground. Enemies within the country fight for territory. Middle Eastern neighbors surrounding Israel would be pleased to remove this country from the map. In fact, the battling over this land began long before 1948. Disputes trace back to the Biblical accounts of Genesis and continue through the Old and New Testaments. So much attention given to a land whose size pales in comparison to the countries around it. It has hardly known a time of quiet and stillness. Yet, amidst the wars and the invasions and the changes of power, over two millennia ago a baby was born in Bethlehem who forever changed the face of this Holy Land. He was Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Such a good and perfect gift in Jesus arriving in such a tumultuous place.
This vacation, although I have brief moments of concern for plummeting myself into a contentious part of the world, I am mostly just thrilled to celebrate the life that offers peace and hope to a struggling world and to examine the events of Jesus’ time where they actually occurred. As we left the Tel Aviv airport earlier this evening and boarded our bus for the 2-hour drive to Tiberias, Lon Solomon prayed, among other things, that we would have a life-defining experience on this trip. You know, if we are following hard after Jesus, I’m wondering if it’s even possible not to have a life-defining experience.