Israel During Lent – Day 6 from Jeff

DAY 6. Judea.

God Forsaken. 

Those are the first words that came to my mind this morning as we entered the Judean wilderness/desert. 

We traveled south along the western shore of the Dead Sea and, wow, is that sea and its surroundings dead or what!   It’s barren!  Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness were no picnic!  

Why would God chose this place to be a homeland for his chosen people?  If this writer were God he would choose Fiji to form a chosen people. 

Masada. Oh my Gosh!  Please google what happened there in 70-72 AD.   It was horrific. Too unthinkable to contemplate.  Masada is the symbol of Jewish resilience.  It’s their cry, “Never again!”  The IDF trains there.  Air Force jets tip their wings to it!   Jewish resilience bolstered by God’s covenant mean’s Israel ain’t going away!

En Gedi.   A spring and small oasis in the Judan desert, complete with ibex!  David hid here from paranoid Saul!   More of the Bible becoming real!  If you’re a leader don’t be paranoid.  It looks really, really bad.

Swimming in the already dead but still dying Dead Sea!

As this writer was floating (impossible to sink in this Sea) on this gigantic lake he looked west to the mountains of Moab (enemies of the Israelites thousands of years ago & still today as property of Jordan), then to the south and west only to see desolate wasteland.  But then, looking north, the reminder came  that this water was once living water (meaning fresh and running and alive) flowing from snow on Mt Herman in the far north.  It is that living water which feeds the Sea of Galilee, which in turn becomes the Jordan river. It is that water where miracles happened, baptisms took place, across which the Israelites marched into the promised land and more!  And it ends up no longer living water but dead and lifeless in the Dead Sea

So there we all were, paradoxically being buoyed, being borne, by that from which no man can live.  The thought then came that this is indeed how God works perhaps even most of the time.  A believer is so frequently buoyed, borne by God’s Spirit, carried even in the deadest of life conditions, even carried BY those horrific life conditions when God uses those conditions for our good in ways that we could never hope nor imagine.  

No, this land is not God forsaken.  It’s rough, hard and not always amenable to life, but it’s not God forsaken.  It’s God Chosen, God inhabited, and God Blessed.  

Maybe it’s a reminder to each of us that God is sustaining the very places where we sometimes feel forsaken.  Maybe you sometimes feel like your life is like a big, salty, dead, cold, muddy lake, located at lowest point on planet earth but something’s keeping you afloat.  If you find yourself thanking that Something, God Himself, for his Grace when Grace is nigh impossible to see, then you have come far in the Christian life.