Did you ever finally do something right and the tone of the whole day is so much better? That’s what happened to us here in the land.
Because there are ten of us, there are ten different expectations, each pulling in it’s own direction. Not that it’s wrong, because it’s not. But it makes for a challenging situation.
When I was at the wall, getting alone with God, He showed me what was going on and how to fix it – something I typically do when gathering with a group – pray. (Novel idea, right?) Not that we weren’t praying, because each of us was – individually. But as a group, we were shooting arrows up to heaven, not spending time seeking God’s face. So yesterday morning our day started in prayer – together – settled down and ready to be lead by God. What a difference it made in our attitudes and in our openness to the Spirit!
We have a couple of people in our group who cannot walk fast, and the stone streets with their steep incline and steps slowed them down even more. But it was so beautiful how we helped shore one another up in love, rather than get frustrated with the slower members of our group. It truly is beautiful when brothers (and sisters) walk together in unity!
Speaking of walking, our first Shabbat in the Land was dedicated to walking in Messiah’s footsteps. Like my visit last year, I didn’t want it to be the typical Stations of the Cross, because quite frankly, the streets where he walked are a few feet below the current street. Rather, we were looking to experience what it might have been like to do all that walking on the night of His trials. So after prayer, we headed toward the Mount of Olives through Lion’s Gate, with our first stops being the prison of Christ where the Antonia Fortress would have been, then the church of Flagellation.
The plan then was to have a private service in the garden of the Pater Noster Cloister, followed by lunch on the rooftop overlooking the Temple Mount, visit the Tomb of the Prophets, the Garden of Gethsemane, walk through the Kidron valley to Caiphus’ house and end at the Garden Tomb for communion.
At our Shabbat dinner, our host Yoni said one of my favorite saying, “Man makes plans and God laughs.”
The plans we made were not the ones God had for us. You see, He knows our hearts and what deep desires lay hidden there. Sometimes, we are not even aware of what they are.
What we ended up doing was a blessing not only for us, but for a few people in the Land as well, and isn’t that part of the reason we are here? To bless the people?
If you’ve ever walked up the Mount of Olives, you know how tough a walk it is. It is very steep, and even though who do it often end up winded. There was no way several of our group could make that walk, so we already decided they would take cab and meet us at the top.
While waiting for us to meet them at the top, some of the ladies started talking to one of the vendors. He ended up bringing us a lunch for $4 (as opposed to the $20 the rooftop restaurant would cost.) I was a bit disappointed, and very concerned we would be ripped off, but stepped away from the group to talk to God. You see, part of the guy’s shpeal was to bring us to his shop (near the King of Kings community.) But as I spoke with Abba, what was happening felt right, but with a bit of caution.
Wally, our new friend, told me that the Tomb of the Prophets was closed for Shabbat, as the City of David now oversaw the site. So he took our ‘cab group’ up to Pater Noster Cloister (for free), and even got us into the site a few minutes early.
We spent about an hour in God’s presence, sitting by the tree shaped like the shin (the Hebrew letter found on the mezzuzah’s for Shadai). It was so refreshing.
Wally then met us to take our ‘cab group’ down to the Garden of Gethsemane, while the rest of us made the walk back down. He then picked them up again, to take them to his shop (which would be after Shabbat was over). The rest of us headed to the Western Wall for Havdallah.
When we met up back at the hostel, we saw the beautiful pieces our ‘cab group’ made. We also discovered that we were invited for a free lamb dinner – with dessert back at the shop. Personally, I didn’t want to go. I was tired, and just wanted to eat some dinner and relax in the atmosphere of the old city. Marla felt the same way. So the two of us stayed behind as the rest of our group was blessed with a scrumptous meal.
But this was all the doing of God. Marla and I had the opportunity to talk and get to know each other more. Then…
We were invited into another shop for a free widow’s mite and a cup of tea. Romi, the shop owner, recognized me from last year. I also recognized him. He tried to sell us some jewelry. They were beautiful pieces, but the funds just aren’t there for some of us. But I found something the Lord knew I wanted.
On a bottom shelf sat a candle holder that was a perfect match for a Hannukiah I was given years ago. It was my first piece of Judaica, given to me by an older Jewish man after he found out I was hosting a Passover dinner. It had been in his family for a few generations. I couldn’t take it, but he insisted. And here was it’s match.
Not only did it match the other piece, but it held three candles – exactly what I wanted for Shabbat – two candles for me and one for my granddaughter.
This morning, reflecting on our day, I realized that we didn’t do half of what I planned to do yesterday for Messiah’s walk. But that’s okay, because God had a different plan.
Messiah’s walk is His own. We get to experience different parts of it, to help us appreciate all He did for us, but only He can bear the burden of the whole walk.
Lesson learned, Abba.