Monday, June 19, 2017

Pilgrimage Day 6 -- Rome to Israel

I woke yesterday morning, with tears starting to flow. We were flying to Israel. This long awaited day was finally coming to pass -- a day that my husband and I dreamed of. On the way to the airport, our fellow pilgrims sang "Jerusalem, Our Destiny!"
"I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way;
this journey is our destiny.
Let no one walk alone.
The journey makes us one."

We were all anticipating this special day when we would set our feet on the grounds that our Savior walked, healed, touch, restored, spoke to the winds to be still, turned water into wine, opened blind eyes and so much more that John 21:25 says "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

Once we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we soon boarded our bus and our very knowledgeable guide (has been doing this for 35 years) began to talk about where we were headed. Again, I began to weep at the sheer thought that what I had read about for so many years and memorized the scriptures and invited this Jesus to be my Lord and Savior -- I was going to be where He was on this earth. It was overwhelming to say the least.

Our journey this day would take us to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. Just the thought of being where Jesus performed so many miracles, again, made my emotions and excitement run high. Along the way, we came to Samaria, then Joffa where Jesus asked Zaccheus to come down from that Sycamore Tree (BTW -- there are so many sycamore trees here) because he was going to his house that day and his entire family came to know Christ as Lord. We came to Caesarea where St. Paul departed from to travel to Rome.

I was especially touched when we arrived at Mount Carmel at Haifa. Mt Carmel is where Elijah indelibly associated with the mountain. In the Books of Kings, Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal to a contest at the altar on Mount Carmel to determine whose God was genuinely in control of the Kingdom of Israel. According to 1 Kings 18, the challenge was to see which God could light a sacrifice by fire. After the prophets of Baal had failed to achieve this, Elijah had water poured on his sacrifice to saturate the altar and then he prayed; fire fell and consumed the sacrifice, wood, stones, soil, and water which prompted the Israelite witnesses to proclaim, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!". In the account, Elijah announced the end to a long drought; clouds gathered, the sky turned black, and it rained heavily. With the incredible manifestation of Elijah's God being our God to those prophets, still Elijah ran when word had it that Jezebel was after him to kill him. He ran to a cave at Mt. Carmel fo hide. A beautiful shrine is at Mt Carmel that commemorates the life and miracles of God through Elijah's faith (pictured below).. We enjoyed a beautiful mass and communion at a Carmelite chapel.

When we passed a sign that told how many miles to Nazareth, tears fell again. (BTW -- I won't be wearing eye make-up anymore on this journey. There's just no sense because I expect to be overwhelmed with love for my Savior so much I can't contain all that is welling up inside of me. I tend to think it's those "springs of living water" that I know will never run dry)..

We traveled by Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning the water into wine at a marriage feast, then by Cyprus where his dad, Joseph, came to work. And in this region, Jesus learned his father's trade and worked alongside him.

Finally, at the end of the day, we arrived at our hotel right at the Sea of Galilee. Oh how my heart burns within me. No words can be offered that could explain my heartfelt gratitude that I know this Man personally. He walked here and He walks with me today. He's as close as the mention of His name. How thankful I am to be on this pilgrimage of faith that confirms this journey of faith that I've been on for so many years is worth it all.

This morning, we'll board a boat that takes us across the Sea of Galilee. I plan to envision Him walking on the water toward me and I'll say "My Lord, my Savior and my God! And, He'll say back to me...."Donna, peace be still" and I know all that is within me that often seems out of control.....will be still with the command of His words to my soul!"