Category Archives: Israel

Israel: My Friend Stuart

Stuart

This is my friend Stuart.
He is awesome.
He started growing an Israel beard.  He decided that he would grow an Israel beard when he was in Israel.
He wussed out and shaved it not long ago.
It’s okay though, because if you refer to the second sentence in this entry, you will find out that he is awesome.  I am sure that he had a perfectly legitimate reason for shaving his beard.
He also pastors a church called Radius.  Radius is pretty much made up of broken people.  These same broken people are on a mission to bring peace, love and order, or what I will henceforth call Shalom, to a broken world.  It is a beautiful thing.
Stuart and I experienced things together while in Israel that cannot be put into words.  We did come back with a clearer vision of what God has been doing since the beginning and what He will continue to do.  From the very moment He breathed life into Adam, He has been seeking to partner with His most beloved creation.  He extended His hand to mankind to push back chaos with Shalom.
That was the job.
That is the job.
Whether it is working and tending the Garden of Eden, or stepping into the blinding chaos of your neighbour — the job is to bring Shalom.
Yes, that includes getting saved…don’t worry.  But it doesn’t stop there.  We tend to think that “getting saved” is what it is all about.  It is not.*  If it was, that mandate would have been stated before Adam chose to sin, or what we call the Fall — and that just does not make sense.  Before the Fall, there would have been nothing from which to be saved.  There was however, before the Fall, a clear mandate to work.  To tend a garden.  To trim the trees.  To plow the unplowed ground.  To make paths.  To tenderly clear an expanse for lush green grass to flourish.  To bring order, to bring Shalom to a wild garden that was loaded with potential.
There is still work to be done.
Eden is over.
Things are messy.
Chaos is all around, even in our own lives.
God still extends His hand to us, longing to partner with His beloved creation to bring Shalom in a world that cries out for it.
It is a calling we all desire, but few really embrace.
It is encouraging to see someone else actually go for it.  To really go for it.  I mean, from the depths of their soul, they chase it.  Pursue it with reckless abandon.  To take chances that scare most people.  To honestly trust God by stepping first into the swirling and chaotic waters.
This is my friend Stuart.

*I will expound on this thought at a later time.  Let me say though, that before we can effectively bring God’s Shalom to a chaotic world, it does start with Jesus.  It starts with a dependence upon him and what he did on the cross — that his death was enough to satisfy God’s justice.  Jesus’ sacrifice of himself, a sinless offering, was enough.

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Israel

OliveTree sm

An olive tree.
Ancient and gnarled.
Still producing fruit.
The olive tree in the photo above grows in one of the oldest olive groves in all of Israel.  It is roughly 2,200 years old.
I took this photo as my group ascended Mt. Carmel, the actual location where Elijah and the prophets of Baal squared off.  52 Americans, myself included,  following a wild-eyed rabbi named Ray Vander Laan, scrambled the rocky terrain to one of the many Biblical sites on our tour.
All along the way, I was trying to process – trying to process…God.
My brain could scarcely ponder Him or the wonders my eyes had seen.
My thoughts were jumbled because of what my ears had heard.
The soaring temperatures and the outpouring of sweat was constant.
My feet sizzled in my dusty boots as we would walk for hours.  For miles they tromped and never failed me even in the desert of the Negev where the Israelites wandered for 40 years.
I would drink from my bottle and find no relief.  Only hot wetness.  It kept me alive, but that was all.  It was far from refreshing.
That was the state I was in for the duration of my stay in Israel.
I learned with my feet — my tired, achy and shriveled feet.
For 2 weeks I learned with my feet while all the while being covered in the dust of my rabbi.
I have little to say at this point.  Much of the truth I gleaned from my experience is still seeping into the inner recesses of my soul.  The precious and tender morsels of knowledge are slowly being digested to bring about wisdom that has evaded me for much of my life.  Not because it was hidden, but because I failed to seek it.
What bits of wisdom that God has produced in me thus far have been shared with those around me as best as my fallible tongue will allow.  I plan on sharing some of those bits with you in the weeks ahead.
Until then, I will trim my ratty Israel beard and watch my desert tan fade into this autumn season where long sleeve shirts and jeans abound.
Though my heart still sometimes longs for Israel, it is good to be home.

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