"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Bible is a picture book

It’s not that you step off the bus into Jerusalem and suddenly the entire Bible is made clear to you in a staggering flash of inspirational genius that knocks you to the dusty stone street (though you may fear that fall is going to happen, given the drivers around here...)

It's not like that at all. You don’t need to come here to learn about God, to understand Jewish culture and foundations of Scripture, or to somehow force yourself into the glorious presence of Christ. Christians are no more and no less Christ-like here than they are in the United States; God did not make traveling to Israel a prerequisite to radiating His image.

I knew that before I came here, so as I watched money trickle (pour…) out of my bank account into this trip, I wondered—why am I going? What is this to me? My purpose wasn't to find anything that would “justify” the time or money; not everything in life needs to be so stiflingly “productive,” like if somehow I don’t feel more “spiritual” at the end of this trip, I have failed.

That’s ridiculous.

So I let hands stay open, pushed away the fear of failure and of not "getting enough" out of this trip, and believed it was worth it to come, knew I need to see the place my Lord lived, and let Him do the rest. He does not tell us how to walk along the path, how fast to walk along the path, or how we should feel at the end of the path; He simply says, walk down it.

So I walked. And waited.

And what I am realizing is this. These next two and a half weeks here in Israel may not be the most transformative two and a half weeks of my life. They almost certainly won’t be. But what they may be is one of the best two and a half week investments in my life.

Meaning, after being here for merely four days, I can already open to nearly any book of the Bible and have pictures, feelings, sounds, smells, and tastes immediately play action movies and paint masterful pictures in my mind. This is the hill country—I see Jordan in the distance. Those are the steps where Jesus taught—they’re quite long, and the view from them is phenomonal. This is where He was crucified—I didn’t know it was only a 20-second walk to where He was buried. This is the type of road the Good Samaritan was on in the story—I never imagined it was so desolate.

What the Bible is becoming for me is something no movie, picture, text, or lecture could ever give: It is becoming a picture book.

Here are the steps where Jesus gave His sermon in Matthew 23. The rough bottom stones are original (the smooth top ones reconstructions). That is the wall around the Temple Mount in the background.

And here is the amazing view from the steps.

And I was there. :)