There are so many things about which I wanted to write at 4:00 am this morning. Jet lag is real and exacerbated when you have a spouse who’s also experiencing it. You’re wide awake at 3:30 a.m. You’re pretty sure he is, too. His movements are restless and his breathing includes an almost audible sound of frustration every now and then. You’re almost sure he’s awake, but you still don’t say anything in the darkness, just in case he has stolen a few moments of sleep in the wee small hours of the morning.
I thought a lot about the trip to the Bible Lands (https://www.biblelandpassagetours.com) this morning. It was a tight travel with 46 other people, only a few of whom I’d ever even met. Glenn and I spoke, in studies and devotionals, a total of 21 times and this schedule counted as an annual vacation?! We walked (much of it strenuous hiking) a total of about 60 miles. We packed and unpacked a large bus several times a day. We ate some pretty unfamiliar foods and I’m told that I did eat camel tongue, but I’m in denial about that. I permanently lost my cell phone in Jericho. I did some difficult counseling (or problem-talking is really a better description) along the way. The plane rides were long; the nights were short. The temperatures were topping out at around 100 degrees several of the days and most restaurants don’t serve a glass of ice with anything you order to drink. I didn’t see a single store that compares to Publix or WalMart, though I’m sure they must be there. I left a bunch of my clothes in Jerusalem because my niece was on her way to do a similar tour and her luggage never made it to Tel-Aviv. There were bumps and adjustments and rigor and sweat.
And it was the best trip of my lifetime! I will treasure the memories and savor the rich teaching for the rest of my days on this earth and maybe even carry a larger bucket into eternity! I will remember the bodies of water: the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. I will be thankful for the water of life. I will remember the ruins of Bet- Shaen and of first century Jerusalem and of Dan and be thankful there’s no ruin in heaven. I will think about the passionate wailing at the Western Wall and be thankful there is no wall of separation between me and the One who ministers in the Most Holy Place for me. I will think about the Jews who still cling to the observances of a system that has no blood of redemption and ever praise Him that the law of Moses was nailed to the cross and that I do have blood. I will remember the intensity of the Arab/Israeli struggle around the state of Israel and be prayerful for the simple gospel and its attendant blessings to permeate and, one day, powerfully affect the spiritual climate there. I’ll think about the world-changing gospel, likely first preached on the steps of the temple where Glenn was privileged to proclaim them again a few days ago, and just praise Him that the forceful words of Acts 2 have found their way into my heart two thousand years later. I will work to help them find their way into the hearts around me.
I will keep working and praising (and stumbling and failing), but I will do it with an added dimension of thanksgiving. A woman who is enjoying the blessings that are inherent in Christ—a woman who has entered the Holy Place and ministers in the service of the High Priest —is blessed beyond comprehension. May those of us who are those women make daily choices that reflect hearts of utter dependence and extreme gratitude!
So some simple lessons will be forthcoming in some subsequent posts.
But for today, I want to tell you about something I heard last night over the dinner table at Zaxby’s as we sat there with some of our younger couples and singles from the West Huntsville church. One of our couples, Stephen and Brenna Anderson, had just returned from a trip to Washington, DC. Searching out the church there for a Wednesday night assembly, they found that the prospects of Bible study with Christians inside the city were more difficult than they’d thought. They finally found a single congregation inside the city and made their way via the metro to a spot within walking distance. They arrived early and, when they knocked, were admitted by a young man who told them that the ministers were out of town, but welcomed them in. The Bible study was to begin at 7:00 p.m., but 7:15 came and it was still just the three of them. Finally one more brother arrived and, as they began to sing together, just the four of them, two men wandered in from the street. One of the men was obviously very inebriated; the other listened intently to the prayers and praise and, at the end, asked for prayers as he made his way to a destination in Virginia. He indicated that he really didn’t know exactly what he needed, but he knew he needed prayers. The prayer was offered and the service ended. While the local people tried to help the drunken man to safety as he left, Stephen approached the man who’d asked for prayers with a simple life-changing question: “Would you like to have a Bible study?”
The man answered “Actually, I would.”
It took a while for the local man to “handle” the situation with the disorderly man, so Stephen spent that time in study with this visitor. The man, whose background was Muslim, had already come to believe in the Lord Jesus and was already searching the scriptures for salvation’s path. He knew a lot about the Bible. After a while in the Word, the man’s next question came: “Could I be baptized now?”
Stephen said, “Well, let me see about that…I’m a visitor here, too, but let’s ask if we can make that happen.”
And it did. The baptistry was filled. The man’s sins were washed away and he went on his way rejoicing.
Stephen and Brenna left him, the infant Christian, in the care of the man who baptized him. They went on their way (hurriedly, because the metro was closing) rejoicing, too.
God’s people searching out God’s people. Two or three (or, in this case, four) of them gathering in His name and knowing He is there. God’s Providence working mightily. A powerful combination producing the very best thing that could possibly happen on a vacation!
How can you not be encouraged to begin your work-week with His name on your lips? Let’s do this week for Him!