“I walked today where Jesus walked, and felt His presence there.”
That was one of the favorite songs of the minister of music at the church where I grew up. And there were so many times over the past two weeks when the words to that song came alive to me. Whether it was walking on paving stones that were over two thousand years old, kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane, walking down the hill from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, or standing in the bottom of the cistern underneath Caiphas’s house, something profound happens to your spirit when you walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
But maybe the most profound sense of God’s presence happened in the most unexpected place: Concourse C of the Frankfurt airport. As you may know, our trip did not start well. A snowstorm cancelled our flight from Atlanta to Toronto. After a night in Atlanta, we flew to Frankfurt, where some of us had a twelve hour layover. In the middle of that layover, someone from the other half of our group (the group whose flight was not cancelled) posted some beautiful pictures from the first day of their tour. And I, your pastor and spiritual leader (cough, cough), had a good old fashioned pity party. It went something like this: God, I’m supposed to be in the Holy Land right now! This isn’t fair! I’ve been waiting all my life to walk in your footsteps. To be among your people. To walk where you walked. Why am I stuck in an airport, with very spotty wifi, eating a Burger King hamburger that DOESN’T EVEN HAVE BACON?!?
And that’s when I felt God saying to me, “James, is there anywhere on earth that I don’t walk? Is there any place on the planet that shouldn’t be considered the Holy Land?”
That was maybe the biggest lesson from the trip. Friends, I loved Israel. I learned so much, and I look forward to going back in a couple of years, and hopefully taking some more of you with me. But we miss so much the Lord has to show us if we think we have to travel thousands of miles to walk where Jesus walks. As the Dutch theologian and politician (yes, there are such things) Abraham Kuyper said way back in 1905, “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” So whether you are shopping at Wal-Mart, sitting in the carpool line, at the soccer fields on Saturday morning or the baseball fields Monday night, you are in the Holy Land. Just open your eyes.
Joy in the Journey,