I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my trip to Israel is over. After the countless hours of fundraising, preparing spiritually/mentally/physically, and earning money through garage sales, selling coffee, babysitting, yard work, making my CD, and desperately looking for any spare change on the ground – my trip to Israel is over.
It didn’t hit me right away. It was hard leaving my team at the airport and coming back home to a place that felt almost too big, too unfamiliar. But, a few days went by, and I began to re-adjust to life here in America. I didn’t have the feelings of Post Israel Depression nor did I even really think about Israel because I had too much on my mind as I was preparing for another vacation to Pennsylvania. I didn’t have time to process what I experienced. I was happy to be back with my family and even though it was a little weird re-adjusting, I felt fine. At least, so I thought.
Okay but then, it hit me. Hard.
I was attending a Messianic Jewish conference in Pennsylvania when I felt as if I got hit by a truck. It was during the worship session on the very first night when all the emotions, the feelings, and the memories began to just flood in.
In Israel, I got to see where Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) walked on water in the Sea of Galilee. I got to pray where Yeshua prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. I rode a camel, laid beneath the stars in the deafening silence, and stayed at a Bedouin camp – ALL in the Negev Desert. My faith in the Bible grew as I saw where Yeshua talked to thousands on the Mount of Beatitudes (and yes, it is possible that he talked to that many at once) and where I saw the cave at Ein Gedi in which David wrote Psalm 57. I went to Mt. Precipice, I saw where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and I took a cable car to the top of Masada. I went to Capernaum and saw the ruins of the synagogue where Yeshua taught. I prayed in a prayer cave like Elijah and I saw the Valley of Armageddon. I saw the beautiful Golam Heights. I was immersed in the Jordan River. I walked around and prayed at the walls of Jerusalem. I prayed at the Western Wall and I danced with such joy as we all welcomed in Shabbat. I visited Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial) and I got to dig in archeological caves where we found artifacts dating all the way back to the Maccabees. I visited orphanages, hospitals, and worked on a pepper farm (as well as many other service projects). The hotels were warm and cozy, the food was impeccable, and the scenery was jaw-droppingly (if that’s even a word) beautiful. I shared the gospel and who Yeshua was with several Israelis. And the people there were beautiful, free, and brave. When I was in Israel, I felt apart of that country, apart of the people.
I was home.
Yet, that whole paragraph above doesn’t even cover HALF of all that I experienced in the land of Israel (here is a video I made so you can have a visual of some of the stuff we did in Israel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b65HgkJDeuY )
Yes, I did all those things. And it was one of the best experiences of my life. But, I think my most favorite experience of the whole trip was experiencing God. Being in Israel, I learned more and more about who God is and why the land of Israel is SO important. God has been faithful countless times to His land and His chosen people and I know for a fact that He will ALWAYS be faithful. The God who created this earth, who breathed life into us, and who is the beginning and the end is MY GOD. This God, MY God brought His people back to Israel. My God, YOUR GOD claimed (in Isaiah 66) that Israel will become a nation in one day – and sure enough, that happened in 1948. There are several other prophesies in the Bible that just show how Israel is living PROOF that God and His word exists and that He keeps His promises.
But, God isn’t just in Israel. While I truly believe, as Rabbi Kevin says, “places matter”, God is everywhere. He’s there when you are driving, when you are at a party, or when you are taking your dog on a walk. He’s in the trees, in the wind, in the flowers. Point is- He is all around us. And He’s keeping His promises, big or small. Our God is the Name above All Name, the King above All Kings, and He is a faithful, loving friend.
I slowly begin to process all of what I experienced, but there is still another part to this story.
If some of you don’t already know, I am a Messianic Jew. What does this mean? Well, for me, I was born Jewish and I believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is God’s son, that He died for our sins, and that He rose from the grave. And I believe He is coming back. A lot of people ask me the question, “Well, how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?” I’ll first start off by saying that Jesus was Jewish. He was born of a Jewish mother, He celebrated the Jewish holidays and feasts, He went to synagogue and kept other Jewish traditions as it says in the Bible. For me, I was born Jewish, I follow the Jewish traditions, I go to synagogue, I celebrate the Jewish holidays and feasts, I celebrate Shabbat, I had a Bat Mitzvah, etc. And, I believe in Yeshua.
Of course, not everyone accepts this. That’s okay, we are entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. Growing up, I used to not understand what it means to be a Messianic Jew. It was hard for me because I didn’t know how to explain it to my friends and I was always afraid that they would think I was weird. I started not to care that I was Jewish. I became embarrassed and ashamed because I was different.
But then I went on this trip and it literally changed my life. I realized that before this trip, I wasn’t embracing a huge chunk of who I am. And that “chunk” is called Messianic Judaism. God has called each of us, Jewish or Gentile, to a specific purpose and calling. We are all born in Messiah, one in the Olive Tree. God chose me to be Jewish for a specific reason. It is a part of my calling. And when I was in Israel, I began to see how special it is to be Jewish. I began to love my Jewish identity. I began to find the person God called me to be. I began to love who I am.
I miss Israel, my home, more and more every day. But, I’m excited to begin this new chapter of my life – to fully embrace my Jewish identity and to discover all the great things God has in store for me. Thank you GOD for giving me the opportunity to go to Israel, for showing me who I am and for teaching me new things every day.
My life is forever changed.
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,[a]
and your land Beulah[b];
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.
6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth.
8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
for which you have toiled;
9 but those who harvest it will eat it
and praise the Lord,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
11 The Lord has made proclamation
to the ends of the earth:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.’”
12 They will be called the Holy People,
the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
the City No Longer Deserted”
– Isaiah 62