During my recent time in Israel there were many lessons learned, insights gained, a new knowledge of my Savior grasped, and lifelong friends I was blessed with.
In many ways it’s hard to believe that I arrived home from this trip over two months ago. What’s even more surprising to me is how long lasting the effects have been. During my time there I tried to process, meditate, and journal the wealth of precious gems that I was discovering along the journey. What I didn’t realize was that many of the gems were yet to be uncovered. This mining, digging, and purification would continue as my feet were once again planted on familiar soil, as I walked through the door to my home, as I visited with friends, as I sat in church, as I read my Bible, as I taught my kids. This journey, this mission, this gift has given me a new outlook and depth to my faith.
One of the most unexpected moments of significance for me came from an unassuming, little known (at least to me) location.
Our second day in the Holy Land began at the Garden of Gethsemane. After our teaching we climbed back on to the bus and I settled in as we traveled to our next location. I scanned the itinerary and discovered that our next stop would be at a place I had never heard of, but that didn’t stop it from becoming one of the most significant parts of my trip.
We arrived at Yad Hashmona Biblical Gardens and gathered round to meet our tour guide, Ayela.
Arriving at these gardens, I decided to leave my notebook on the bus. But as soon as Ayela began to speak I quickly pulled out my phone to take what notes I could.
As she shared, this stirring in my spirit took place. It was if the Lord was grabbing hold of me saying, “Kristen, pay attention.”
Looking back now on the notes I took, I realize that although she shared so many significant and meaningful insights, what truly grasped hold of me was her passion for our Savior and for His Word.
Can you see it? Her passion for what she shares?
She is contagious!!!
I wish I could sit under her teaching on a regular basis.
She shared a quote that has stuck with me from the moment she uttered it. A messianic rabbi said,
“Just reading the New Testament is like watching the end of a good movie. You have to start at the beginning and by the end I promise you will be weeping.”
Our tour of the Biblical Gardens ended and I knew I would never be the same.
All I wanted was to get back onto the bus and dig in to the Old Testament. There was an excitement to read more of the story! To truly know His Word!
Fast forward a month and a half and I was sitting down in my home visiting with an older and wiser woman from our church. Amongst her many insightful words, she mentioned that she had read through the one year chronological Bible and that what she gained was invaluable; how reading this way truly helped her see the Bible as a whole as she comprehended the full perspective and context of when biblical events took place.
I thought of Ayela, her passion, love, and knowledge of the Bible. I thought of the rabbi, who understands the importance of seeing the full story. I thought of my life, my testimony, my story, and how after being a Christian for over 30 years I have never read the Bible cover to cover.
From this desire to dig in to the entire Bible that began in the Holy Land, to the moment a wise woman shared just how to do that, I realized I wanted nothing more than to start at the beginning. So I picked up my Chronological Bible, that had been set on the shelf long ago, and began to read.
I know myself well enough to realize I can’t allow myself to become hung up on the one year aspect of it. I want to read the Bible chronologically, no matter how long it takes, and if I miss a day I won’t get discouraged. But, I have to tell you that the beginning is so captivating, it’s hard for me to put it down! I’ve been underlining, taking notes in the margins, making connections I have never seen before and the Word is coming alive!
I can’t help but think of James 4:8 that says…
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”
How true that has proven to be in my life. The more I draw near to Him reading His Word, spending time with Him, sharing His truths with others, the more I feel Him near.
Will you consider joining me?
Join me on this quest to read the whole Book.
To begin at the beginning.
To understand the story.
To weep together at the end.
And if this feels like too big of an undertaking, too overwhelming to even consider, begin with a verse a day, a passage a day, a chapter a day….whatever you can do.
From my own life I can tell you that opening the Word will change everything.