At dance practice this week, one of the ladies asked what was the highlight of my trip? I thought about it and couldn’t really come up with an answer. And the question still lingers in my mind because I can’t put my finger on just one thing, one event that I could say, “That is it.” You would think with such an incredible experience that something would stand out. This morning, I realized what it was.
This was the second time I traveled to Israel. As I type this, I can’t believe those words are coming from me. I was a single mom of six who, except for a foray into real estate where I made it big then lost it big, never really had extra to do things. Living in south Florida, the big thing was to take the kids to Disney World in Orlando. For me, that was an extravagance that was often hard to swing. In fact, there were times that shopping at Goodwill was an extravagance I just couldn’t afford, so I’d pull out the needle and thread and get creative. I thank God for my mom who taught me how to be thrifty and make things work.
So to say that I’ve been to Israel twice is an amazing gift from God – the first time through the generosity of his people, and this time through unexpected extra income that paved the way. Oh, and did I mention that the enemy tried to steal away this opportunity?
Yep, as soon as I purchased the non-refundable plane ticket, I needed some major dental work. I’m talking the very next day. One day sooner and I would have called off the trip. But God knew that and his timing is perfect. And he continued to provide extra employment opportunities so that I could afford to go. For those of you who know me, you know that my primary job keeps me hopping. There are days when I work from 4 in the morning until midnight when I just can’t keep my eyes open anymore. But God reigned and it all worked out – even in the midst of the High Holy Days and ministry work and researching/planning the trip.
All this spoke volumes. It said that God was in control, and our trip was destined to be a good one. What do I mean by good? That it would be exactly what God wanted it to be, which was the desire of my heart. I wanted to be in his land, see with his eyes, experience his people, and learn what he wanted me to learn.
And that is exactly what happened. God was right there in the midst of us, providing everything we needed, including uncomfortable lessons (like driving up to and sleeping on a mountain plateau, or hearing news of terrorist attacks all around us, or sweating so hard from fear that I couldn’t see.)
The first trip to Israel was with a tour company. We saw a lot…and I do mean a lot. I was told by someone on that trip that we saw more in those 9 days than they saw in two visits to Israel. So that was a great blessing, in more ways than one. It whet my appetite for more. Not more sites to see, but more time at each one of them.
That’s what this trip was. We stayed in the land longer (16 days) and visited the sites at a relaxed pace, leaving only when we were ready to go (or in some cases when the site was closing.) We did see more than I had the first time – places like Shiloh, Tel Be’er Sheva, Tel Dan, the Cave of Elijah, and more. There are others that we did not visit for safety reasons, or not having enough time. But it was all okay. As I said in a previous post, I was completely and fully satisfied on this trip.
And this, I realize, is the highlight of the trip. God was with us in all things. He ordained where and when we should be places. And it was the most fulfilling experience I’ve ever had.