Why do people have bucket lists? Is it because a bucket list carries with it a sense of anticipation? Or accomplishment? Or just hope that something exciting lies ahead? I’ve never had a bucket list. I tend to live in the present — I don’t dwell on the past or freak out too much about the future. I’m not really a long-term planner so bucket lists don’t seem to fit my “style.”
However, after what I’ve just experienced during a trip to the Holy Land, I will encourage believers to put a visit to Israel at the top of their bucket list! I’m not sure why this isn’t something all Christians make a priority in their lifetime – but I will now tell anyone who listens to make it happen sooner than later!
The incredible opportunity to visit Israel with Redeemed Girl Ministries this past week, left an unexpected mark on me. I’ve been a believer for over 40 years and the thought that a place could influence my walk more than a lifetime of study, just didn’t seem possible. I guess I feel like I went from being a student of the Word to actually experiencing THE WORD. It’s the difference between saying you “know” someone because you read about him and know facts about him vs actually meeting him. In the neatest way – I felt like I really MET Jesus this week! Passages, verses and stories I’ve read for years, came alive to me as I saw where they took place and walked where Jesus walked. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve personally known Jesus for a long time. But I feel like being where he was just took our relationship to a deeper level. The humanity of my Savior took shape in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. At almost every site we visited, I found myself weepy. It was an uncontrollable emotion reflecting the depth of gratitude for my salvation and what had to take place for me to have it.
I loved listening to our guides tell us about Israel and connecting the culture with the Bible but I especially loved Marian’s teaching from the Word at different locations. Reading the Bible in the places where the stories happened was like seeing a movie script come to life!
A few highlights for me:
Crossing the Sea of Galilee on a boat to Tiberius: Looking out on the shores knowing Jesus walked them and found quiet places there to pray…Or that he got in a boat to get away from the pressing crowds…surreal.
Garden of Gethsemane: it was sobering to look out over Jerusalem just like Jesus would have. I was struck with the reality that Jesus prayed in that place and had full knowledge of what was to happen, yet he still chose to go. I don’t ever want to get over that.
The Western Wall: also known as the “Wailing Wall” made me feel sad. Most Jewish people around the world would have treasured the chance to touch this wall and place written prayers into slots and holes…I couldn’t even bring myself to go up to the wall because watching the ritual of others doing so, created such a deep awareness and appreciation that Jesus, the Messiah, tore down all walls so that I could have 24/7 access to my God and Father. I wasn’t wailing there, but I was weepy with a deep sense of gratitude and humility for the privilege I have as a Christian.
The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem : probably most significant of all for me. We took communion right outside the tomb Jesus is believed to have been buried in and rose from! No words.
I’ve known Jesus my whole life but I feel like I really “met” him this week!
You’ve got to go to this place. It’s not just about a place – it’s about seeing the Word of God come to life.
John 1:1-4, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Bucket List: Holy Land ✔
Millie Welsh, RGM Executive Director