I’m writing this from the balcony of another hotel in Israel. This time in Jerusalem. It’s early morning and church bells were just echoing nearby. I kind of expect to see Maria from the Sound of Music scurrying by below me – late to morning mass. But here she’d be passing Imams and Rabbis as she ran. A tad different than Salzburg.
My times here in the Middle East are always ones of competing images.
Yesterday morning we spent time in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. I try to picture him running the hills of pine and cypress trees and working by His father, the carpenter. In the afternoon we were in Galilee, where Jesus fed crowds, and healed and preached on the Mount of Beatitudes. He walked on the water and calmed the same.
And Jesus walks alongside me with the command that often seems impossible, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Alongside these visual reminders of Jesus’ time on earth are the overwhelming images of a land divided, a land in conflict – unable, seemingly, to get along. Israelis and Palestinians. Christians, Muslims, Jews. Some think supporting the state of Israel means hating Arabs. Others think that those who want to talk about the plight of Palestinians must hate Israel.
And Jesus walks into the midst of this with another command that often seems impossible, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.”
And finally, as I sit here this morning I read an email from a friend halfway around the world who is struggling to find her own kind of peace. Praying desperately for a baby when that seems as impossible as reconciliation in the Middle East. I pray with her. For her. That Jesus would give her the gifts she needs in the moments she needs them.
And again, He says what seems impossible, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
There is so much I don’t see. So much that lies in the murkiness beneath the surface of conversations and conflicts, hurts and hopes.
My brain is too limited to absorb all the complexities. My hands are too small to hold all the pain and hope. But my heart is soft, and my God is enough. So this morning I’m entrusting it all to Him once again, and it is well with my soul.
and the darkness has not overcome it.