In February of 2020, literally weeks before the world shut down and phrases like “shelter in place” and “social distancing” became part of the common vernacular, we were on a pilgrimage to Israel. For 10 days, our group of around 90 people walked, and hiked, climbed and stood, waited and rushed, listened and learned, and bonded as we shared the sacred experience of being where Jesus was born, served, was crucified, and resurrected. That’s a lot of world-changing history in an area roughly the size of New Jersey!
I could literally write a book about the revelatory experience and the impact it had on my own life and faith….
I stood on a precipice overlooking the Zin Desert, part of the legendary “wilderness” the nation of Israel wandered through for 40 years, and began coming to terms with my own wilderness journey as God gently nudged my heart and challenged me to let it go….
I walked around the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus asked a man who had been waiting for a miracle if he wanted to be made whole, and I heard echos of the same question asked of me….
Nearly every day something we saw or did challenged me in a way I would not have been ready for any time earlier. And now I understand why….
I had been trying, and I mean truly TRYING to live from a place of gratitude, making the most of the life I’ve been given. Just months before this trip I had enrolled in graduate school and completed the New York City marathon….if you know me at all, these aren’t my typical goals! What I didn’t quite understand then, but do now is that I was just running….running from grief, running from disappointment and running from the possibility that I may not have understood who God was after all, and that was just too terrifying to slow down enough to face.
But that all changed when I literally stood on the ground where Jesus had stood and looked out over a landscape that hasn’t changed much over the past 2000 years, knowing these were some of the same hills he retreated to when he needed to talk to God about his own hard questions.
While many historic sites have been built up several times over, there were surprisingly several places where the land remains largely as it was. It felt like we were stepping into the past and it was easy to imagine history come to life.
One such place was the Valley of Elah. where the shepherd boy, David faced Goliath, not with the oversized armor and sword offered to him by King Saul, but with weapons he was familiar with. David went to the small stream and picked out five smooth stones to fit his trusty slingshot and approached Goliath with pure faith that God was going to bring home the win for Israel. He didn’t really think about it much – he didn’t agonize over picking out just the right stones (it really only took one…) or strategize with the army commander. He brought what he had.…and it was more than enough.
I’m not sure why any of this came to mind tonight….but I have a feeling there may be some who need to hear it’s OK to stop running so fast and so hard.
It’s really OK…...God knows how you want to make everything fit together and live through the mess faithfully. And He really loves that you care enough to do that…..but that’s not what he’s asking for. I think what God wants to speak to us on this 26th day of Lent is that it’s HIS job to bring transformation and renewal to our broken places.
All we need to do is show up with what we have…..and it will always be enough.
So Much Love,