I probably won’t do this again. I don’t see myself as a “tour operator” in Israel or anythwhere else. I much prefer being a tour operator to help people discover how to live freely in God’s kingdom.
But I promised I would go back, to get my daughter there, after my son and wife went on the last trip. She couldn’t go because of young children at home. So this time she is going along with my niece, and Sara is staying home to help Julie’s husband with the kids. I also decided to go back because of the number of people who wanted me to do it again and said they wanted to go. However, most of them ended up not being able to go this time, so we have a bunch of others.
So in a couple of hours I depart for the airport and an overnight flight to Frankfurt and then to Amman, Jordan. I am looking forward to the next two weeks wandering around some of the most amazing real estate in the world with Brad Cummings and his wife and people from all over the world. We’re going to see some amazing sites in Jordan first, and then in Israel. We’re going to reflect on how this land became so critical to God revealing himself in the world and the unique challenges that it faces until the day the New Jerusalem descends from heaven. I’m always amazed when I’m there that God chose this place of all those on the earth to make himself known. We’re also going to let the Scriptures come to life as we visit places where these things actually happened. And, we’ll have a great time on the bus, around meals, and walking around to get to know each other. Last time a group of strangers became knit together pretty quickly and the sense of family we had there continues to bear fruit across continents since.
We are going to take a boat across Galilee (the picture above is from our last time there) and observe the hills that Jesus would have seen countless times, stare down the Gates of Hell in Caesarea Philippi, stand near the altar Jeroboam built in Dan, be on the mount Jesus where most likely preached his famous sermon, swim in the Dead Sea, go up to Masada, and end our travels in Jerusalem on some of the very stones Jesus walked on, visit the mount where the Temple stood and the traditional sites for his death, burial and resurrection.
I wish you could all go. I know many reading this wish they had the time and resources to have joined us on this trip. I wish you could have as well. I don’t believe God is any more present in Israel than he is in your own home. God inhabits his universe and we can discover him right where we are as easily as any place else. So I don’t go to Israel to have a more special time with God, though like everywhere else I go, I fully anticipate engaging him there.
And I pray that you, too, wherever you are, will make some time to lean into his reality over the next few weeks. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of life that we don’t set time aside to reflect on him and to ask him to make himself known to us. That’s where this journey thrives, not on Israel trips, in books or by listening to podcasts. This is a journey he wants to take with you. I know that connection takes some time to develop. It may be just inklings at the start, but it will grow into nudges, and then revelation, and then the joy and confidence of knowing he is always with you whether you feel him or not. Your whole life is in his hands and there’s no better place for it to be.