It's been over a week since we returned from our Holy Land pilgrimage. What an amazing, life changing journey! Many people told me that Scripture will come alive in new ways after seeing first hand the land where the Lord lived. It's been described as the difference between black-and-white and technicolor. That's a pretty good assessment. Scripture has always been alive for me: a living, breathing, inspired Word right from the mouth of God. But the trip did produce a profound revitalization of curiosity, a confirmation of the Truth of Jesus and His Word, and a renewed appetite for in-depth study of the Bible.
I've never been a map person. Ask anyone who's ever traveled with me and they'll tell you I'm not one to follow. I never know where I'm going and pay almost no attention to directions and geography. But the Holy Land was different. I poured over the map before I left, on the plane, and while we were on the tour bus. I couldn't believe all the things I didn't know; basic things like which of the villages Jesus frequented were in Judea and which were in Galilee. The biggest takeaway from actually studying and walking the geography: Jesus and His followers were in very good shape.
Highlights of the trip: The Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, the Western Wall, giving devotions at the Shepherd's Field and at "The Gates of Hell" in Caesarea Philippi, En Gedi, and the Dead Sea. And surprisingly, the food! I ate so many colorful, wonderful, fruits and vegetables, plus amazing seeds, nuts, and grains! I love that they even eat salad and vegetables for breakfast! (I think I was in the minority on that).
Lowlights of the trip: The cold! It was damp and in the forties most of the time. The peddlers, especially in Petra. The drive out of Jerusalem to the Golan Heights. In the snow. On a big bus. Through the mountains. I had no idea what kind of experience our driver had with snow. (He ignored my questions). This was the only time I felt concerned with safety on the whole trip! And finally, missing two of my boys' birthdays and missing Sam's trip to the State Tournament in basketball.
It was a long time to be away from my family. But Eric did more than an amazing job managing both the home and the church for the two weeks we were gone. I am beyond grateful for this, life-changing experience!