Traveling Light

We’ve been home from Israel for a week now. I think I’m pretty much over the jet lag, and all the laundry is washed and put away. I added up all my Fitbit miles and realized I logged over 55 miles in 12 days. (I think at least 5 of those miles were logged walking through Frankfurt airport!)

My suitcase looks lonely though. I hate the thought of storing it away because it will probably be years before my next international adventure. Then again, I’d rather leave it behind and shed the impulse to bring every possible creature comfort from home.

I had a detailed packing list for our trip, but it grew considerably until I filled every last inch of my suitcase. Somehow I managed to stay under the checked baggage weight limit, even though I kept adding things up until the last moment. And it never occurred to me that I might want to leave space for gifts or souvenirs we might accumulate during our time in Israel.

Fast forward to Tiberias. After living out of my suitcase (and carry-on bag) for the first three days, I realized I probably didn’t need to pack that second bathing suit and extra sun dress. And I definitely didn’t need the fleece jacket or the Costco sized SPF 50 sunblock. Sure, I loved having clean clothing each morning, but I could have easily washed some things in the sink. By the end of our trip, I was envying those who packed a single carry-on bag or a trekking backpack. They looked so carefree as they navigated the busy hotel lobbies and crowded airport terminals. Why couldn’t travel light? Why do I feel the impulse to pack so many things I might want, rather than only those things I will truly need?

Hmmmmm.

Perhaps the way we travel is a metaphor for life. Personally speaking, I do tend to carry a lot of excess baggage around with me. The stresses of daily life can sometimes feel like we’re dragging a heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs. It weighs us down and slows our pace. Why is it so difficult to let go of the things we are convinced we need, even when they have little real value in life?

But, oh, there is hope . . .

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭68:19‬

Amen! I say it’s time to lay those excess burdens down!

Going forward, I think a better approach to life — and travel — is to carry only what we need for the journey. 🙂

 

 

 

Steps of Faith

בוקר טוב (Pronounced “boker tov”.)

This was our morning greeting from our wonderful tour guide, Sonia Waters, for the past two weeks while in Israel. Most days we left our hotel at 8:00 a.m., carrying along with us everything we would need for our day’s journey. For me that meant my backpack, hat, sunscreen, iphone (for photos), map of Israel, Bible, shawl (for holy sites), passport (for unexpected checkpoint boarding by border security), and lots of water. Our seasoned bus driver, known only as Govanni, made sure the on-board cooler was always re-stocked overnight. Bottles were $1 US or 3₪ Israeli shekels, which was much cheaper than tourist spots, where we paid up to $2.50 for a bottle of water.

Govanni could navigate the the steepest mountains and the tightest parking spaces to get our luxury tour bus to and from its destination safely.  He spoke little English, but was always cheerful and helpful. He remained in the background or stayed on the bus for most of our excursions, but always had the AC cranked to the max by the time we returned, exhausted and overheated from the 90+ degree desert sun. I learned on our final day in Israel that Govanni likely saved the life of one of our tour members, rescuing her from an undertow at a beach in Tel Aviv. Praise God for his quick response!

It is impossible to share in words or pictures what this trip meant to me being so close to the stories I have read in the Bible all my life. The dusty roads, rocky cliffs and briny seas I visited all came together like the pieces of a puzzle as Sonia explained Biblical history at each site. Tears welled from my eyes when I stood on the Mount of Olives and saw Jerusalem for the very first time, and when I prayed at the Western Wall.

View of Jerusalem, taken from the Mount of Olives

 

This was no ordinary vacation. For me, it was a tour of emotions, and deeper understanding of my faith and its roots. History came to life where Jesus once stood and preached the gospel message inside this synagogue at Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:35-39‬

The journey continued as I walked on the remains of the original stone street in Jerusalem where Jesus once walked, possibly carrying his cross to Calvary. I was baptized in the Sea of Galilee and floated in the Dead Sea. I sat in the Garden of Gethsemane and wandered through ruins of ancient kingdoms. These were quite literally steps of faith.

I will share more in future posts, and hopefully create a link with both photos and narration so you can get a small glimpse of what I learned on this trip of a lifetime. And if you ever have the opportunity to visit the Holy Land — GO!

As I close this post, please join me in praying for peace throughout the Middle Eastern region. I also want to offer a special thanks to Dennis and Tina Karp of https://chosenpeople.com/site/Chosen People Ministries, our friends (and neighbors!) who organized this amazing trip. I am so grateful for their invitation to join the tour.