Going to Israel wasn’t on our radar, but around New Year’s this year we began praying for Israel. It’s wild to think that we went from, “Yes Lord, we’ll pray about Israel” to “Yes Lord, we’ll move to Israel” in about two months. A huge part of that was our experiences and the beautiful people we met in Israel when we went in February.
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“What kind of music you like?” asked our driver. A long travel day and amazement at finally being so close to our destination kept us from answering fast enough. “What about this?” he asked, turning up his current playlist on SoundCloud. A trap music variant blasted through the speakers, oddly fitting for our late-night introduction to a new city. High rises and city lights came into view. “Welcome to Tel Aviv,” he said, rolling down his window. Welcome to Tel Aviv.
Our introduction to Tel Aviv didn’t end there. Our driver dropped us off near an intersection that was right down the street from our VRBO apartment. We walked up to the apartment and toured the room and balcony that would be our headquarters for the next two days. All of my travel jitters were gone. We were there. We made it.
Over the next ten days, we explored Tel Aviv, saw the Mediterranean Sea, camped on Mount Carmel and on the Sea of Galilee. We drove through towns, sampled local food, wandered through markets, and talked with local people. It was beautiful. They’re beautiful.
But the most beautiful thing about the entire trip was how intimately the Holy Spirit walked with me.
As we prepared to scooter through Tel Aviv, I was reminded of the time when Michael tried to get me to scooter around Portland years ago after we had just met. I adamantly refused. Standing on a street in Israel I laughed to myself- and at myself- as I acknowledged the character development. More than character, it was trust that had developed- trust in the Lord, trust in myself, and trust in Michael as we grew closer. Holy Spirit reminded me of the joy that comes with trust and the sweetness of growth.
On Mt. Carmel, He was whispering about the power and faithfulness of the Father. He reminded us of the trust that Elijah had in God and how that aided in the formation of a nation.
He spoke about bold prayers, righteous anger, and His jealousy for our uncompromising worship as we hiked through the split rocks, mud, and brush.
In Caesarea National Park, we were able to see the place where historians believe that Paul gave his defense of the gospel to Festus (Acts 25-26). We contemplated the life of Paul and the phenomenal witness he was to the power of the gospel. We let the Holy Spirit use this to inspire our minds with the remembrance of Paul’s revelation of the person of Jesus: The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).
At the Sea of Galilee, Holy Spirit brought to mind the memories of our engagement. Our commitment together that day on Flathead Lake that we would step out on the water and keep our eyes on Jesus. Following wherever He leads, come what may. We got to recreate our picture, and remember our commitment, on the Sea where Peter tested his faith on the waters and where Jesus calmed the storm.
At the Jordan River, Holy Spirit looked lovingly at the water where Jesus was baptized. This was when He really began to clarify what was happening in my heart. Yes, I was being reminded of various events as we traveled places, but more than that, He was remembering.
It’s a wild reality to think about the fact that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead and who showed up as a dove and fire and wind is living inside of me. He remembers all of those people, all of those events. And He walks with us, in us.
And then there was Jerusalem. We spent most of our time in the Old City and we were filled with wonder as we traversed the maze of the city.
The Garden Tomb was the most significant location in Old Jerusalem that we got to experience. To walk through the garden and see the empty tomb in person was surreal. Not only was it refreshing to see a holy site preserved for worship alone, not just as a tourist attraction, it was especially beautiful to feel the Holy Spirit remember this place. He saw the grief of the disciples when Jesus was found dead. He felt the heaviness of their loss and the discouragement that many believers felt while Jesus’ body was in the tomb. And then He felt abundant joy when He got to wake Jesus up, breathe life into His body again, and they walked out of the tomb together. He felt the significance and freedom in that moment, fully realizing that this is how He would get to dwell in humanity again and unify Jesus with His Bride. He saw the amazement when Jesus spoke with Mary Magdalene in the garden and commissioned her to share the good news with the rest of the disciples. He watched their faces as they heard the news and ran with them back to the empty tomb watching the hope spark in their hearts. He was there. For all of it. He remembers. I felt the joy in Him in that place. I let Him make it come alive for me and then tell me that He’s so happy this happened so we can be friends. To say that this makes me happy too is a massive understatement, and I am honored to live in this Reality.
At King David’s Tomb, we were met with a greater reality of the legacy of this man after God’s heart. Michael was touched by the boys praying at King David’s tomb and their respect for this man who had such a unique relationship with God and love for worship. I had the opportunity to speak with a Jewish woman there. We talked about the Torah, Mosaic Law, and God’s desire for humanity. This included Jews and Gentiles working together to spread the light and love of God. After our conversation, she handed me a card with Psalm 23 printed on it. She encouraged me to pray here before I left to honor the legacy of David. I’ve used the Psalms frequently in my prayer life before, so in remembrance of the man who wrote them and to honor my history with the Lord, I prayed Psalm 23.
I was almost instantly met with the Holy Spirit and my mind was flooded with memories of me praying this exact prayer as a fifteen year old. Holy Spirit whispered that He remembered not only the history of Israel and the Jewish people, He remembered me. He remembered our history. He remembered being with me in my room, in the middle of the night as I cried out and prayed the Psalms for an ounce of peace in the throes of anxiety attacks. Nothing else helped. And here I was, twenty-one and healthy, married and in Israel. I was standing in the room where the man who gave language to my heart was buried. Holy Spirit remembered him too.
It was one of the most moving experiences of the entire trip, and I was deeply touched by the intentionality of the Holy Spirit to meet me there. The continuity and eternal nature of God was overwhelming in the place where He revealed to me that He remembered so many intimate moments with so many different people in various parts of the world.
The Western Wall was rich with history as the last standing wall of the ancient Jewish Temple. There were many people praying at the wall, sticking notes in the wall, and sitting close to the wall reading holy texts and praying. We approached the wall, Michael on the men’s side and me on the women’s side, and unknowingly prayed one prayer in unison: Maranatha.
At the Jerusalem House of Prayer for all Nations, we were immediately met by the warm hospitality of the staff. Their kind advice was helpful and encouraging as they opened our eyes to the country they have come to love and serve so faithfully. As we climbed the steps of the four story base, a large renovated water tower, we could hear the ceaseless prayer being lifted up from the top of the tower, different languages crying out to the Lord for the peace of Jerusalem. Our hearts could not help but feel the draw of God’s love for this place and His desire for us to join them in their pursuit. Michael asked one of the leaders if he could borrow their guitar, and I guess you could say that the plans were sealed in that very moment. Worshiping God on the top of the Mount of Olives and asking the Lord to respond to our love song and prepare the table for the wedding feast of the Bride and the True Bridegroom on Mount Zion was all so incredibly aligned to everything that God had been revealing to us.
We returned home with full hearts and lots to think about. Even as we were attempting to find our Grangeville rhythm again, I found myself longing to go back. There was such a stirring in my heart that had taken place, such an intimacy with the Lord in that space.
Of course, God is everywhere, and we can commune with Him regardless of our specific geographical location. However, geography matters. When there is history with God in a place, you can feel it. It’s like at the end of the movie War Room when the pastor steps into Ms. Clara’s prayer closet and remarks, “Someone’s been praying in here.” There was history made in that little room by Ms. Clara with God. There’s peace, joy, intimacy, and intentionality steeped into the walls. Deep spiritual wells of faith and trust in the nature and character of God were dug in that room. It’s significant. And the Lord remembers too. He honors history; He honors covenant.
So while God is present in Grangeville, Idaho- and we want to honor our history with the Lord in that location- there is a unique history that has taken place in Jerusalem, Israel. And the Lord, who lives in me, remembers. The Holy Spirit, who dwells in me, remembers. All of the streets where He hovered, the river Jordan where He descended like a dove, the tomb where He raised Jesus from the dead… Holy Spirit remembers. The people, their history, the Garden Tomb, the mountains… He remembers. Israel may be foreign to my mind, but the same Holy Spirit that walked with Jesus on the earth, raised Him from the dead, lived in the disciples and believers in the early church- He lives in me. He remembers. Because of my yes to Jesus, He has grafted me into the timeline and story of the Jewish people by the blood of Jesus. My spirit felt at home in Israel as the Spirit in me remembered. This is the reality of being redeemed by the blood of Jesus and filled with His eternal Spirit. And so, as a wildly beautiful result of our miraculous oneness, I felt in me that He remembered. There is deep history with God that has been made in Israel.
This is why we are honored to join the Bridge Gospel Academy for their April trip and are overjoyed to move to Jerusalem in August. We are so excited to take this journey with the students and see what the Lord speaks to them! Please join us in prayer as we prepare for this trip and continue to prepare for our move in the summer. We would also appreciate it if you keep us in your prayers while we’re actually on the trip April 18-28! May we continue to see the Lord with fresh eyes!
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