Downtime in Jerusalem

As always, the weather is warm in mid-summer Jerusalem as I study and rest between summer groups. Though a dry climate here, one looks for the shade whenever possible. The flora of this land holds secrets that, when discovered, can benefit us pedestrians. Many of the trees in Israel make adjustments to the climate by developing miraculous mechanisms for retaining moisture—even in the five to six months of the year when it doesn’t rain. Standing under the Tamarisk at midday as it showers its abundance of dew on the guest under its branches is better than any air-conditioning system can afford. The flora of Israel reminds me again that even in these dry months, our experiences in this land live vibrantly in the hearts of those who come.

Our first group was just delightful. Never can I remember in nearly 30 years of guiding in the Middle East a group more diverse in age and circumstance than this one. Sherri and Igor brought their sons, Christopher (10) and Zachary (8). I learned many years ago not to underestimate the age level at which one can be held captive by this wondrous land and the world of the Bible that it still reflects. Chris and Zach were at my side all of the way with questions and thoughtful observations that helped me through their eyes to see old sites in new ways. Thanks so much, boys! This old guide will never forget you. And then there was Maxine (we’ll leave the age out of this one). A mature believer and willing pilgrim, she did every walk and every site with enthusiasm. The younger among us were encouraged by her quick steps and our frequent reminders to one another that “Maxine did it!” Thank you, Maxine, for you militant optimism, refusing to miss out on anything that God had for you in Israel. To all of you, as you expressed your gratitude so lovingly to me on our last evening together, may God give you in the new perspective you have gained a closer and more faithful walk with Christ.

And then for those of you who have never been to Israel or have come with me at other seasons, consider a summer trip! Along with the typical seasonal activities like swimming daily and boating, I promise you that your life will be refreshed as you experience the lands of Jesus and prophets. God will “get a mortgage on your soul” and you will surely return.

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