It is 2 am, and time to wake up. A late get up for the rest of our journey to the Holy Land where the time is 7 hours ahead, but we figure it will help with jet lag. My wife and I are not experienced international travelers. The longest plane ride she has ever taken was 3 hours, and she squeezed my hand as white as a football player’s knuckles before they hear hike. My wife and I are not morning people. If it was up to us breakfast would start at noon, and stores wouldn’t close till 3am. My wife and I are not happy; we are nervous, tired, cranky, but we are ready. We don’t want to miss our flight, and we want to get on Israel’s schedule. We won’t let anything come between us and this pilgrimage. Here we are, 2 am, heading to the airport, our flight is scheduled to leave at 10 am from Jacksonville, it’s a three hour drive.
We buckle down and wait, finally 10 am arrives, but our plane doesn’t. 11am, no plane. 12 pm and…you get the idea. We are notified that the flight has been cancelled due to the weather. So..we fly to Tampa. We fly from Jacksonville to Tampa on a plane that I think I once put together in a lego set. Why did we fly to Tampa?… I have no idea, but we trusted our experienced guides and we went to Tampa.
Tampa the new Holy Land?
I didn’t see any Kippahs in Tampa (although I am sure some were there), but there was a very nice brewery (Cigar City) and since 1 night in Tampa turned to 2 nights, my new Deacon friend, Kate, and I decided to visit a very different kind of Holy land.
Eventually the weather cleared and we took flight. On the plane Kate and I sat next to this delightful Jewish girl. She was incredibly friendly and we discussed Judaism, Christianity, modern culture, and Migraines (these conversations didn’t have a causational relationship I assure you). Finally we landed.. It’s hard to believe, this was the start of our journey as it almost felt like its end. By now Kate and I had gone on to Israel time, off of Israel time, and now back on to Israel time (migraines unsurprisingly came up in many conversations).
Kate and I walked off the plane, and immediately…Kate got sick.
Still we moved on, whatever happened from here on I knew I was in Israel, I made it. God provided, Kate got the medicine she needed, and quickly recovered. We took to the vans and were taken up into a hurricane of more biblical imagery and background knowledge than I could explain in a hundred articles. Our gracious host kept reassuring us to soak it in and not worry about processing any of it. By the end of the trip I was as pruny as a 100 year old guy left in the hot tub all day.
I can’t explain to you what it is like to be in the Holy Land (at least in an article you’d be willing to read on the toilet, or between youtube videos of cats) but I will say it changes your perspective. One example is I saw this beautiful building, and I went to take a picture of it. The host then told me that this building was new, it was only about 500 years old. I scoffed and thought, “Only 500 years old…that’s not worth a picture…”and then realized my entire country isn’t even 250 years old!
(Hardly Worth A Picture)
The other main effect from visiting Jerusalem and seeing where Jesus lived, it left no doubt of the historical accuracy of the Bible, and the life of Jesus. You may choose to debate about whether Jesus is the Messiah, the one and only way to God, but he lived, he died, and he changed the world. If nothing else wakes you to the truth of the Bible then the nagging question of why and how did this son of a carpenter who died two thousand years ago change the world in a way that no other person in the history of man has been able to do should be enough to spend your life searching for the answer.
Next Week tune in to part 2: The Holocaust.