i've been thinking a lot about israel lately. what i experienced. what i learned. what i never want to forget.
but it's hard. it's hard to recall what took place over that twelve days. because it's been three months since we've been back. which means three months of life has crept in and in some ways snuffed out those twelve days.
so this morning because my kiddos have a two hour delay, i took the time to read through our tour book/journal. the first page of the book has the shema written on it in hebrew and english. we said the shema, "hear oh israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone..." every day, sometimes twice a day. together. as a group. i can't even explain to you what that does to your heart and soul. so powerful.
beyond the first page, is page after page of the different sites we hiked to with notes and more notes written on each page. reading through each page brought me back to the spot. i can picture it in my minds eye. i can feel the heat. i can hear the sounds. and then i came to the page titled, "gezer".
gezer was our first hike. after a long flight from grand rapids, to atlanta, to new york, and finally to israel, we got off the plane and grabbed our luggage, walked through the airport and met our shepherd/rabbi/pastor who then took us to our bus and off we went. to gezer.
once we arrived to our destination, we grabbed our camelbacks, Bibles, and journals and started the hike. it was beautiful. the plants. the land. the sky. all of it. simply beautiful.
as we hiked along, we finally reached what was the remains of a city gate. and we found a comfy spot on one of the rocky walls and got our journals, Bibles, and pens out, ready to take in what our shepherd/rabbi was going to teach us.
i'm not going to share every detail of what we learned that evening...'cuz maybe you will find yourself sitting in the same spot i was, listening to the same teaching and i don't want to spoil it for ya. i pray you will have that opportunity.
but i am going to share this part. because this is the part that grabbed my heart this morning. this is the part Jesus wanted me to remember. to give me hope and encouragement and not be weary and worn down by the chaos of my life over the past few weeks.
our shepherd/rabbi/pastor shared the story of how long ago a plague came through the city. a deadly plague. people were dying. people were fleeing because people were dying. but guess who stayed? guess who ran to the help of those dying? Christ follwers. not because they had it all together and were better than anyone else. but because they understood the cost of Jesus Christ's love for them and that motivated them to help others in time of need.
and here's what got me about the story, somewhere it's recorded that one of the dying people asked one of the Christ followers, "why are you doing this? why did you stay?".
the answer, "i stayed for you".
in all the death and chaos surrounding this Christ follower. he stayed.
in all the death and chaos surrounding Christ. he stayed.
so who am i to throw up my hands when my middles' (q and k's) behavior is off the charts terrible? i could so easily walk the other way in anger and frustration from all that they throw at me. and believe me, in some sense, i had to. i implemented a "hands-off" parenting technique. no instruction from me. no communication with them. and do you know how hard that was? to not communicate with them. to not give them a word of encouragement or a hug. but every time i opened my mouth, an argument broke out and nothing was resolved. so a week of "hands-off" parenting became the result of all that.
so who am i? if i understand God's huge love for me and what Jesus has done for me, or even if i am just starting to understand His love and the price He paid to save me from my sinfulness and chaos...
then who am i?
He stayed for me.
i, through His grace and mercy and strength and love, will stay for them.
not because i am so good...but because He is so good. (credit to our shepherd/rabbi/pastor for that line. and it's also found in Deuteronomy).
in His grace. and. always. everything for His glory.