Israel, He Bids Me “Come”.


I was in awe of getting to stand in some of the most sacred places on earth.  Israel, He bids me, “Come”.

I am highly honored that God would allow me to walk on His holy hill.  Israel is a place so sacred and full of God’s promises, that thought that my heart is now His choice temple is very sobering – making me sacred and full of promise.

While on this recent journey, I got to walk the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, taste the food, touch the walls, and hug some hearts.  We walked, and walked, and then walked some more.  On Wednesday, June 4th, we climbed over 500 stairs to the top of The Mount of Olives.  It was there that God sent a man who began to share details of history with us, which was priceless.  Oh, Yeah!  I cannot forget to mention that it was on top of this great mount that I met Kojak the camel.  Do you think my neighbors would mind if I got a new pet?

Kojack

We journeyed our way back down the mountain by way of a skinny winding road that, to our surprise, led us to The Tomb of The Prophets and to the place where Jesus wept over the city.  All week we walked.  Walking allowed us to interact with the many people we came in contact with, people on the street, shop owners, restaurant servers, and even a well-studied monk who was more than willing to share his wealth of knowledge.  Walking also allowed us to burn off calories from the amazing food we were eating.  YUM!  I don’t eat fried food but I had falafel twice that week.  Hey, it was easy to devour as we kept on walking.

Falafal Eating In Jerusalem, June '2014First Bite In Jerusalem - June 2014Falafal Eating In Jerusalem #2, June '2014

 

 

 

 

 

We made stops at key locations as we mixed in to the different sects of the Old City, and then our feet carried us outside the massive stone walls to places like The Garden of Gethsemane, The Church of All Nations, The Garden Tomb, and Golgotha’s Hill.  We walked every inch of the way, with the exception of two brief cab rides and a bus back to Tel Aviv.  I have so much to share about our travels but will have to breakdown the trip location by location, or I may overwhelm you with one very long blog.  I will share more as I myself revisit the memories in my mind.

We had several delays with the airline, so we were a day late getting to Israel.  This was a little frustrating because the trip was already really short to begin with and we had a lot of research to do.  We had prayed for God to guide us and trusted Him with every part of our trip, so we adjusted our perspective and chalked the delays up as part of the adventure.

I was taken aback by the places where I was struck with deep emotion and where I was not.  I kept searching my heart to see if it was still beating at some locations, because “certainly I should feel something here!” was my thought.  Then there were moments that I was unable to move for the awe and wonder that overtook me, sometimes stealing my breath from my lungs.  Odd places caused me pause, like when I stood for the first time outside of the Old City Walls.  I was right at the corner between the Zion Gate and the Jaffa Gate.  There, for a moment, I could not breathe.  I was overwhelmed with the honor to even be allowed to stand outside the walls.  Yet God was wooing me to come inside.

Just inside the Jafa Gate - June 2014

He bids me, “Come!”

I was soon able to regain myself from the overwhelming sense of honor and breathe in the reality of where I was, so the team and I continued our way up the limestone path to enter through the Jaffa Gate.  We gathered some information and set out to find the first station, 15 in all, of The Via Dolorosa.  From where we entered the city we had to work our way backward to find station 1.

He Bids Me Come - Old City Jerusalem

We became acquainted with the holy pause.  There’s no rushing on this trip.

We had not traveled too far toward our destination when I heard English-speaking voices begin to ring out a beautiful hymn.  I looked around and found a narrow opening in the stone wall across from where we were standing that allowed me to gaze downward into a small cafe.  I cannot tell you what this tour group sang, but the harmony was so beautiful and it resonated throughout the corridor into the street market.  Their vibrating cords beautifully displayed God’s glory.  I turned back around and realized where we were standing.  We were at station 5, the place where Jesus’ physical body could no longer carry the weight of the cross.  We paused for a moment to take in the wonder that God had allowed His song to be sung, literally, as we passed by.

After much dodging and weaving our way through the narrow busy streets, we finally found station 1, where Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death .  We could not go insides because it’s now a school, so we turned our attention across the path to station 2, The Flagellation Church.

Flagellation Church, Another Heart

I walked through the courtyard making my way to the entrance of the chapel, and I paused.  A hush fell across the place.  Quietness filled the air like a thick blanket.  It seemed that the crowd in the streets stopped their hurry and became silent.  I stood for a moment before I slowly walked in and allowed my hand to rest on the back pew.  It was here, at this spot, that I began to break.  Not only my heart but my mind and body too.  I could not see Him with my eyes, but somehow I could see Jesus at the front of the chapel on His hands and knees, bloodied from the hellish beating He’d just endured.  My heart gasped for a breath and then I whispered, “Jesus, I belong there.”  My legs became weak and I began to slide into the back pew to sit down, but at that moment Jesus looked at me and spoke words that crushed a shell I did not know still existed around my heart.  He said, “Come forward.  I did this so you can come forward.”  With His gentle words I felt my knees begin to fold as the reality washed through my veins, Jesus sees me and He did this all for me!

“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Eph. 2:7

He bids me, “Come!”

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so lovingly humbled by such few words before, but hearing Jesus speak, “I DID this so YOU can COME”, caused me to melt in the substance of His love.

I cautiously stepped forward.  Half way up the aisle I sensed even more the holiness of this place.  I paused again.  With tears beginning to find their way from my heart to my eyes “Thank You” reverently escaped my lips.  “Jesus, thank You!”  In my mind’s eye I could see Him kneeling there.  There in the middle of the stone cold floor.  His body torn and bloody.  This innocent God-man, beaten with such force and hatred.  Just one lashing away from death, yet love permeated from Him.  The aroma of death and evil was dispelled by a fragrance so pure.  It seemed so unknown yet familiar.  Not since before the fall of man has this scent so overwhelmingly filled the air.  It is the scent of His presence.

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked… They heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord… So he (Adam) said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.  And He (God) said, “Who told you that you were naked?”” – Gen. 3:7-10

 Sin stripped us naked, and now here Jesus is willingly exposing His back for our beating.  Just as His blood washed over His body, His blood washes away our nakedness.  Jesus, the only sinless One, steps in and wraps His robe of right-standing with God around us.

There I stood consumed by His aroma.

Seeing into His reality, I see why this perfect One, the One who could have easily escaped from this torture, stayed to endure it.  It is love that led Him here, and it is love that keeps Him bidding, “Come.”  I slid into the second row of benches and I prayed.  “Forgive me if I’m being disobedient, but Jesus the front belongs to only You.”  I sat there for a while to soak in His presence, in His sweet aroma.  I needed to feel the weight of my wrong tearing at His flesh.  I needed to feel the reality that His love lifts that weight and covers my nakedness.  I stayed until I, and my Another Heart team members absorbed the sight, the feel, the fragrance of Holiness Himself, and the humility and wonder that He says “Come”.  Once we all felt a release, we continued on in our journey, but forever changed.

We walked out from the courtyard back into the streets.  There the noise and busy rush resumed, filling our ears and eyes full of Jerusalem’s life.  We took only a few steps when a group of young boys, maybe 8-10 years old, rushed by us.  Their faces were red and their legs were in fast pursuit of another singled-out peer.  We watched in amazement as the team of boys began to punch one of their own, and the adult men stood by to watch.  Just moments before we were breathing in the sweetest fragrance of untainted Love, and now we were standing witness in the very stench of evil that beat Jesus so many years ago – while men stood by to watch.

The shame of sin no longer needs to be hinged on our hearts exposing our nakedness.  We no longer need to stand in the aroma of evil, and watch helplessly as it unleashes death on our peers.  We can choose to live consumed by the sweetness of Purity, and to be clothed in the righteousness of untainted Love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:16-17

“I DID, SO YOU, CAN COME”

My prayer for all who read this, is that you understand that you do not have to go to Jerusalem to experience the beautiful presence of this God-man, Jesus.  He is The Omnipresent One.  He’s everywhere at the same time and He bids you, “Come”.

Will you “Come”?

~Shannan

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10

Hebrews 9:11-27, Philippians 3:1-11, John 14

Chapel of The Condemnation - Third Station Via Dolorosa

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. 08/04/2014 at 11:50

    I think its wonderful that you got to go to Israel , praise the Lord, how many days were you their Shannan, I read everything that you wrote in the Shannanparkers Block.

    I understand that I don’t have to go to Isralel to experience the beautiful presenceof this God-Man Jesus.

    He is omnipresent one he’s everywhere at the same time, praise the Lord, and he bids you to come.

    Will you come?Yes I’ll come, my wife Loraine well come to.

    I have a special prayer request, my wife Loraine needs a kidney, she is stage 4, the kidney function 16% , it is functioning steady though,, this thursday she has to go to the hospital at Florence,Al she suppose to have both arms checked to see which arm to put in a small item in her arm so the nurse can feed Loraine kidney some medication, it won’t have to be all the time though, just when needed

    Pray that she can fine a donner, sometimes it takes a long time on the waiting list, the kidneys specialest to her you don’t want the kideys to crash that wouldn’t be so good.

    So far she is eating good, a lot of people have been praying for her and for me to, I have her on my mind a lot sometimes specially at home , I must read my bible a lot and pray every day, when I do this I won’t worry about her and have her on my mind so much Shannan, thank you for telling about this trip when you went to Israel, God bless you, how are you , we well be praying for you to Shannan we love you, may God be with you God bless you.

    Love,

    Clinton & Loraine

  2. 09/03/2014 at 11:50

    […] Great Negotiator”.  We were walking along the path toward the first station of the Via Dolorosa when a man tried to sell us a map for 5 Shekels.  At the time of the first offer we didn’t […]


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