In the States, tomorrow
is Thanksgiving. Far and away, it is my favorite American holiday. Its focus on family, food, fun and rest – all in the context of gratitude – makes it uniquely wholesome. Although I am not in the US and find myself increasingly removed from the way it looks at life, I love to celebrate this part of its culture in Jerusalem.
Except for a six-month visit to England in 2013, I have been in Israel for almost four and a-half years. Every day I am amazed that I have the privilege of living here.
Acclimated to the culture, Israel has become my home. More than a place I sleep and work, it is where my heart has learned to rest. I have fallen in love with the people and the cultures, and also with the land.
Periodic walks each week take me into the terraced hills of Judea. In spite of stony soil and thorny weeds, their beauty is breathtaking. Olive and fig trees and tall bent pines are surrounded by ancient watchtowers, some rebuilt, some not. And poking through the soil, long, strong ribs of stone fold here and there into secret clefts and caves.
It is as if I’m seeing part of a massive skeleton, but one with living marrow, still nurturing a land that, though wounded from the past and given up for dead for centuries, is very much alive.
The greatest evidence of that life is not the focus of most tours. Most come to see places where things happened: the Jordan River and the Wilderness, Capernaum and the Temple Mount; the Seas of Galilee and Salt; and all throughout, ruins from the past. Some tours jump from looking at the past to squinting into the future when God himself will make this place his earthly throne.
But the life of this awakening land is not in the past or the future. It is in the present. The living breath of Israel is in the people here; the people here today; all of them.
Since coming to Israel in 2012, I have encountered the beating heart of God. It is a pulse that pumps in people, not stones. As an avid advocate for the Jewish State, the homeland of God’s human family, I have been nurtured and sustained by priceless friendships with members of that tribe.
But the greatest acts of kindness I have encountered?
Second to none, remarkable in unselfconscious generosity, the richest gifts of love have come from Palestinian believers. “George” from Gaza, “Jabra” from a refugee camp, and Mariana of Bethlehem; Mariana who gave me a room in her inn, who casually made me an member of her family, and did so in a six-month season of my life when I was alone and had no place to live.
Whether Jews or Palestinians, the pulsating life of this resurrected nation is its people. Yes, among them are those who are distort God’s Word in an attempt to usurp his uniquely chosen human family, the family in whom, and through whom, all the world is blessed.
But even God’s enemies carry markers of his grace. Their life and breath, passions and desires, are gifts from our generous Creator, even when those gifts are corrupted.
God is a giver and what he gives is life. He is passionate about the people living in his land and, I am convinced, wants their stories told, their news reported, to nations that otherwise hear distorted, even deceptive reports from its own media.
God is the primary parent in this new news venture. Through you, he is nurturing, sustaining and enabling it to grow.
Because of God through you, the Jerusalem Journal is able to focus on people in Israel, telling their stories, and providing a platform for them to tell the world what is happening here.
As the human co-parent of the Jerusalem Journal, I am living here as your representative, as one to bring a blessing, not a curse, to all whose hearts turn toward the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Thanking God for you, for the gift of life he gives through you in such a time as this…