Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Well I made it back.

But before I post anything about my experiences in the Promised Land, I thought I'd like to share with you the effect my miniature odyssey has had on me.

I feel like my procrastination levels have dropped significantly. Yes I think about things, but in several key circumstances recently I have found myself acting on my thoughts within a relatively short space of time. I don't seem to be afraid of my choices any more. I accept that some of those choices are not always going to pay off how I might like... but I'm not as scared of making those decisions as once I might have been.

What is more I seem more resilient to things that normally would have bothered me no end. Someone said something to me recently which normally would have speared me clean through and left me moping for ages... but I found that while I was initially hurt by the words, in hours they bounced off. I was bruised but not broken by it. I was kind of thinking... "Huh? This isn't supposed to happen!"

I think too much good has happened for me to risk casting it all aside over any one thing.

I set out for Israel in the hope of achieving three personal objectives. All three of those were met by the grace of God.

I flew, there and back again.

I swam in En Gedi and the Dead Sea (if you are a casual reader you are thinking "so what". However, if you know me, you know the reasons why I had hang ups on that front).

I met several Palestinian Christians.

How those things played out are tales in themselves... but the first two were utterly crucial steps in claiming back ground in my heart of hearts... and I simply could not have done it without the grace of God. However, in doing those very things I find myself changed and changed for the better.

The rules of the game have been favourably altered.

Remember an old passage I quoted in a time of sadness?

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12

Well...in the past couple of days I've found myself coming back to a passage that was mentioned quite early on in our studies in Israel:

"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints."
Psalm 52:8-9

Perhaps some very important longings (longings I may not have been entirely aware of), have been fulfilled. And with that fulfilment there is perhaps the promise of a new period of personal growth.

I remember very clearly the day I dived into the waters of En Gedi. I remember it especially because earlier that day I had nearly collapsed with heat stroke on the barren slopes of Masada. I somehow made it to the bottom and kept myself going... but it was not until En Gedi that I was restored to a better condition.

That event was a microcosm for so much in my life. Trying to climb down from a desolate fortress in the beating rays of the midday sun, and then discovering that in order to be restored, I needed to commit myself to do doing something I feared and let God have me in a situation I did not wish to consciously go. Plunging into those icy waters was not just restoring to my body but restoring to my soul... something I feel the whole holiday experience has been about. I am determined to see that the lessons and experiences I have taken from my trip, are not lost from memory or time.

But I have a question to ask of you.

Are you on Masada or in the springs of En Gedi? Are you stranded on a mountain and failing fast, or have you learned that there is an answer to your weariness and burdens... albeit a difficult answer that requires you to face something you fear or are uncomfortable with? Sometimes you have to face your Masada's before you can finally be in a place to find the refreshing spring.

But please take it from someone who knows. As awkward, troubling and challenging as that journey may seem to you... you should take it, because restoration is at hand for the one who is willing to surrender to God instead of striving through their sorrows.

May God bless you, grant you courage and above all... restore your soul.

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