Fridays with Susan...
I didn't do a post last week because it just didn't feel like I would have anything that would "fit". I didn't want to take away anything from Belinda's trip and what she was sharing with us. I would have felt like I was jerking everyone away from what was the ordained theme - from what was truly important. So I didn't write at all.
But this week I have my own connection to the Holy Land. In fact, I have an actual piece of it.
While Belinda was walking the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee - the sea that is bounded by the hills that Jesus walked early in the mornings while praying and communing with his father, the sea that ripples with the waves he walked on, the sea whose torrents were calmed at his command - she stooped and picked up a stone.
On Wednesday, when I picked her up to travel a stormy, wintry backroad to a meeting in Barrie, she pulled it out of her purse and handed it to me. My eyes instantly welled up with tears.
Jesus never changes, but I do. I don't know about you, but when I can't see him, feel him, touch him, there is something in me that has a tendency to view him almost as a fantasy - a construction of my imagination, I guess. Instead of a real live, interacting, accessible PERSON who wants to relate WITH me. I can slip into all I know "about him", leaving behind the reality that he is just that - REAL.
I've been thinking a lot this week about the difference between "the real Jesus" and my "imaginary Jesus". Thinking about Belinda on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, has been so very helpful in bringing me back to reality, to opening my eyes to look for, and to see the "real" Jesus again...
I took the stone she offered into my hand and squeezed it. It's real all right. Even though I knew it would sound a little silly, I said, "This stone could have been touched by Jesus' foot!"
Belinda laughed and said, "It could!" Considering the number of stones which skirt the Sea of Galilee, it was statistically pretty unlikely. But I liked the thought and kept it bouncing around in my mind. A few minutes later it surfaced again...
"If this wasn't the stone that Jesus actually touched..."
"Actually touched..." Her eyes were twinkling merrily as she interrupted me.
I laughed, because I knew how silly I sounded at the moment, while at the same time knowing that she 'got' me and I was on safe, safe ground. I continued. "If this wasn't the stone that Jesus actually touched, well, this stone touched a stone, which touched and stone which touched a stone, which touched a stone, which touched Jesus' feet!"
Her laughter filled the car and warmed my heart. "That's probably true!" she said.
There's nothing holy about it in and of itself. Even if Jesus had touched it, it still wouldn't make it any holier than any other stone - he is the Word, after all, and it was by Him that all things were spoken into being - including every single rock and pebble on earth, never mind just the stones that rim the Sea of Galilee. But having that stone in my pocket, the stone which was picked up from where he physically walked on earth helps me to be grounded in the fact that who was and is and is to come is real, real, real.
"As real as you sitting here beside me in this car," I said as I reached over and gave Belinda's forearm a tap for emphasis, "That's how real Jesus is here too. He's right here in this car with us!"
I have never had any desire to visit "The Holy Land". I've never felt like it was something that could be profound or life changing or different from visiting any other place. But having now seen it through Belinda's eyes and with her perspective, I can see that it was an incredible privilege and opportunity to experience the sights and sounds and smells first hand. My perspective has certainly changed.
My gratitude list has to begin with:
1. Belinda took us with her on that trip to Israel. I'm grateful for her generous spirit in sharing with us so liberally!
2. Belinda knows that the simple things are often the greatest treasures, and she brought back a stone from the Sea of Galilee - for me.
3. That as real as the stone that is now in my pocket, so are God's promises.. He's will never leave me or forsake me. Ever. Not on his life.
I am blessed. I have this stone in my pocket which touched a stone, that touched a stone, that touched a stone... that maybe, just maybe actually touched the foot of Jesus. Is that cool or what?!