The dream began when my grandmother gave me a sparkly star pin. She brought it back from Bethlehem when I was a teenager and every Christmas when I took it out of my jewelry box I remembered how she talked about her trip to Israel and how much it meant to her. I wanted to go too.
There are so many needs in the world. Frankly, I tend to be the over-responsible big sister type who feels the need to rescue and fix. I also grew up with a fear of not having enough. I justified my ability to pinch a penny so hard it screamed for mercy by giving my reserved squashed coins to charity -widow’s mite and all that.
A couple of years ago someone encouraged a group of us to remember dreams we had relinquished, thinking they were not practical, or were meant for people who needed them more. I realized I had not asked my good heavenly Father for things because I thought, that like my earthly father, he was on a tight budget, and that his resources were limited and had to be carefully meted out to fulfill the great commission of making disciples of all men. It felt selfish to ask Abba if he would give me a trip to Israel like the one my grandmother took. Maybe for someone else, but not for me.
But I dared to ask. And he answered.
The whole time we were in Israel for the past two weeks this song ran through my head:
Jesus, I am resting, resting
in the joy of what Thou art.
I am finding out the goodness
of Thy loving heart.
I know the word in the old hymn is “greatness” and not “goodness”, but that’s the word that kept showing up in that half-sleep time while dawn lightened the skies.
So many things seemed to make the trip look impossible -and up until two days before departure we thought we would have to cancel, but my health improved, our son-in-love came out of his coma and encouraged us to go, and people stepped in to look after things I had assumed were my responsibility alone.
Every day was a gift from a good Father. I thought that nothing could top the feeling of standing on top of Mount Carmel and realizing this was the place where God showed up for Elijah and sent the prophets of the false god, Ba’al, who demanded appeasement, running in ignominy. I thought that would be the highlight, but it just got better.
“Rest,” He said. “Sit down and let others do the running for a while. Rest and let me love you.”
One day, in a lower room below the busy streets of Jerusalem, perhaps on the very pavement where Jesus stood, where the soldiers humiliated him and put a crown of thorns on his head, I sang. I sang with tears and a heart full of gratitude,
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow.
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.
When we came home a couple of days ago, we immediately went to see our son-in-love, who has been on his own journey in the valley of the shadow of death. He is out of ICU, and starting to walk and rebuild his strength in a rehab hospital. The hospital staff are calling him “Miracle Man.”
God is good. So very, very good.