Photos of Israel, the Land of Beauty and Chaos
I went into dangerous territory in March 2016. I stood a mere thousand feet from two worn-torn countries and lay my head down in the most disputed and, dare I say it, the most important place on earth.
I stayed two weeks in Israel, and amid the constant barrage of headlines about terrorist attacks and political unrest, I found a country with its arms open to foreigners, I found unreal, otherworldly beauty, and a people who are as diverse as the stars living beside one another.
There is honestly no way I can capture my journey, both physical and spiritual in one post, but maybe some of photos can help color the journey.
I took down a journal of some memories of my trip, too. Here are a couple of excerpts:
This land is undeniably God’s. Traveling down the highway to Haifa from Tel Aviv, there were arid patches as dry as the desert, the ocean fading turquoise into deep blue, beautiful sloping farms and towns set in the hills. I finally (to some degree) understand why this land is so highly fought for. I see why God has chosen it as the Promised Land. Its beauty is exquisite and His presence is so sweet.
This afternoon we spent some time in the vast Valley of Armageddon at the Mukhraqa Monastery, where the Book of Revelation came to life in my imagination. I could see Jesus defeating the enemy on the verdant plains, claiming final victory…
The Judean Desert is not the fine-sand desert I had imagined. It’s rocky with enormous mountains that seem too big to be real. Caves and vegetation pepper the mountains and below a two-lane highway snakes through the valleys.
On our way to the Dead Sea, this desolate desert spoke to me. I finally could piece together my own experience of being in a ‘desert’ in my own life.
I’ve been put in a drought, with mounting stress and negativity swirling around me and my own fear of failure tugging on my mind and heart.
But through that, I’ve come to a place of utter dependence on God to supply the strength, motivation and resources to live in the city. There’s no other way I could make it without His provision.
And that’s what He wants: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Imagine walking through the Judean Desert. It’s hot and dry and rocky. The terrain is hard to traverse. The rocks, boulders and scrub make it difficult to keep going. Our clothes get torn and our sandals wear out. We get bruised and blistered, just like in life. It’s an uphill battle every day to continue our walk.
There’s no covering except for the caves. But caves are dark and empty. They can only provide temporary refuge. At some point we have to come out and start walking again. We are not meant to live there in the emptiness, hiding from the world.
And when we need refreshment, we need to choose the right source. The Dead Sea is not that — there’s no life, save for a few fish. It can’t quench thirst. It’s beautiful to look at and exciting to float in, but if we want water to drink, we have to go elsewhere. We need living water.
The brush and grasses in the Desert grow only where the fresh water flows down from the spring. Wherever the spring water touches, there is refuge, an ecosystem, life.
John 4:14: “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
That’s the kind of covering we need. God and His word provide all we need in our respective deserts. His word is our life source, our refuge and our hope.
Sometimes He brings us to the desert so we can learn this lesson and never forget to rely on Him and Him alone.
“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11