Journey to Israel: Day 8 (Free Day)



A Day of Rest


Although not on Shabbat, today marked a day of rest. Or, in the words of the itinerary, a "free" day. Today also marks a day of transition, since tomorrow we pack our bags and depart the Gloria Hotel for the Negev, Israel's southern wilderness.


So today, each person did what was right in their own eyes. Some slept-in, others woke up early to explore. Some stayed-in and caught up on emails and phone calls, others walked around the city. I found myself in the first camp on both counts.


Morning Catch-Up


After breakfast, Dr. Grisanti re-met with me and my compatriots to continue his review of today's quiz. I really appreciated it and spent the rest of the morning studying, talking to Kimmie, and catching up on work.


Kimmie and I typically FaceTime during the morning and evening. Except, evening for me is morning for her, and vice versa. Our time apart brings back memories of when we dated long-distance. As I finished my degree at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane, WA, my monthly visits to her home in Spanaway bookended the daily phone calls and Skype dates we shared together.


I forgot what it felt like to not be present with her and look forward to seeing her and our growing baby again. Speaking of which, we agreed I would keep an eye out for cool Jewish names for the baby while in Israel; so far, it looks like we will be welcoming either a Jehoshaphat or a Huldah this October!


Taking the Quiz


After a long morning to myself, I took the quiz and let out a sigh of relief. Easier than expected. Do Grisanti and McMath share notes on how to strike fear into Bible students? On a side note, Dr. Grisanti let it slip that he read my blog about the "death hike." I suppose I need to be extra careful about what I say from now on! By the way, did I mention what a wonderful, brilliant, *merciful* guy he is?


In all seriousness, I am thankful to be a part of a trip that demands both intellectual, physical, and spiritual rigor. Not a vacation in the slightest, each location brings with it a wealth of information and a storehouse of spiritual encouragement. I hope I may leave Israel more sanctified than when I entered it.


A Quiet Afternoon


Other than hand-powered laundry in the hotel bathtub and a stop at Christ Church Coffee for some grape juice in a glass bottle, my afternoon passed lazily. The excitement shifted, however, at 4:45pm, when in the upper room of the Gloria, Dr. Grisanti broke out his projector and presented us his powerpoint of our next week's journey. Not just wilderness, our upcoming leg entailed both the Elah Valley, where David met Goliath, and Beersheba, part-time home of the Patriarchs.


Western Wall Tunnel


In about fifteen minutes we will end the day with a treat: a trek through the tunnel under the Western Wall. I promise to share pictures/videos in tomorrow's post (it'll be after sunrise, so I guess that counts as tomorrow anyone in Jerusalem, right?)

EDIT: I was initially planning to include the Western Wall tunnel in tomorrow's post, but something funny occurred tonight at my expense that I must include, or else my comrades will think I'm soft. A wonderful Jewish tour guide of Romanian descent, Mordecai, led our group--a great guy with an impeccable sense of humor. In one section of the tunnel he showed us three sets of arches (I believe Herodian, Byzantine, and Crusaders). When he called for questions, I asked which entrance into the temple this represented. With a wink and a grin, he asked me to be his "assistant." I obliged and walked with him to the Crusader arch. Facing opposite to him on each side of the narrow archway, he told me to raise my fist and repeat after him--only one problem--not only am I terrible at understanding accents, but he spoke so quickly and in an echoey cave that I had no idea what he was saying. "Perhaps he is speaking some kind of historical Arabic or Hebrew phrase he wants me to repeat?" I thought to myself. Like a preacher who doesn't know how to pronounce an Old Testament word and simply blasts out his best guess with confidence, I shouted out the closest imitation of what I poorly heard him say. The room burst into laughter and only the darkness of the cave prevented my red face from showing (I think). Some said afterwards that I seemed to have spoken in tongues. I can promise you that whatever I said was not a human language! I realized later that he wanted me to repeat, "You can't come in." I felt so bad for not understanding him, but we both handled it in stride and had a hug later. Early, Dr. Grisanti mentioned my blog to the group, so I better make sure I show I can take it as much as I can give it. :)


Conclusion: Canaan Bound


As I close, my thoughts shift to tomorrow's journey. Andrew Petersen wrote a Christian folk song I particularly love. I played it regularly at church during my expositional series on Genesis. Called, Canaan Bound, it speaks from the perspective of Abram shortly after God's covenant in Genesis 12. The verses imagine Abram's conversation with Sarai after receiving God's promise.


"Sarah take me by my arms,

Tomorrow we are Canaan bound,

Where westward sails the setting sun,

And Hebron's hills are amber crowned."


It illustrates such an explicit moment of faith in God's redemptive narrative--in fact, the first faithful moment. By faith, Abraham left a life in Ur to follow an unknown God to an unknown land. By faith, we too are called to sojourn this earth in hopeful expectation of God's coming Kingdom. In this life we should live faithfully, for"Tomorrow we are Canaan bound."



"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." Heb. 11:13-16, ESV


Resting in Him,


-Stephen

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