Israel Tour Journal: Epilogue

View from Yad Hashmona

We are back home.

The trip home was considerably longer, nearly 18 hours of flying.

To pass the time, I watched four movies. One about a dysfunctional man who became very powerful (J. Edgar), another a comedy about revenge for a broken promise (Oceans 13), a third about a man trying to find contentment within a dysfunctional family (Fireflies in the Garden) and the fourth about a girl and her family seduced by a man who a appeals to their worst desires (An Education).

Watching theses movies was a sort of culture shock, like getting into a cold shower after a hard workout. While in Israel we watched almost no television. There was no time. Each morning I awoke early, read the Bible, met the others for breakfast, after which we left immediately to tour to study the people and places of the Bible. When we returned in the evening, we met for dinner and to discuss what we had learned that day, after which I blogged and went to bed. The world seemed far away.

In Israel the Bible was all around us, Jesus always on our mind and an example of Christlikeness present with us each day in our tour leader Arie Bar-David. It was the world turned inside-out, where the whispers of the Spirit became shouts and shouts of the world whispers. Perhaps that was why Cindy and I weren’t ready to come home like we are at the end of most of our trips. We weren’t just saying goodbye to a place on the earth, but a place in the Spirit.

On the trip home, I could hear the world’s voices getting louder, drowning out the the words of the Spirit. When I awoke this morning there was no tour planned to focus me on a story or person of the Bible, only the pressing responsibilities of my job, nagging, taunting and tempting me to the worries of the world.

Jesus prayed the Father would not take us out of the world. Just the opposite, He sent us into the world. (John 17:13-19). Our place is in the world and our purpose is to transform it by being salt and light. King Solomon said, “It is good for a man to take hold of one thing without letting go of the other, for the righteous man comes forth with both of them.” (Ecclesiastes 7:18). As I take hold of the world again I will try to hold more firmly on to the life of the Spirit.

The transformation that occurred during our tour in Israel happened in a controlled environment. It is time to take it out into the real world. I won’t have the benefit of a daily tour in Israel to reinforce Truth in my life, but I can tour daily in the Bible, not just reading its words, but digging into its context, culture and meaning. And, of course, I have learned to always have Bible maps within reach when I study the Bible.

Cindy and I want to thank Ji Yun and Tirosh Expeditions for a wonderful tour. Ji is a servant of the highest order and he was always looking for ways to make our tour more enjoyable and enlightening. If we go to Israel again, we would not think of going with anyone else.

We also want to thank Arie Bar-David. I would never have thought a man could have such an impact on my life in such a short time, but after hearing from others who have toured with Arie, I realize my experience is not unique. Arie would be the first to tell you if you see anything in him you like you are really seeing Jesus in him, who for Arie and for all of us is the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27). GS