Since the incredible popularity (or lack thereof) of my August 2010 post entitled, "The list gets shorter...", I've decided to do what everyone does:
To increase blog hits, we're now introducing.... The list gets shorter... ISRAEL EDITION. (Hey -- it works for Monopoly. If they can sell the same annoying game multiple times to the same person by changing the name on two of the squares and giving you differently-shaped pieces to move around the board and charging you more money, why can't I get the same people to read my blog post by giving it a new theme? Don't answer that.)
Ahem. Without further ado: The list gets shorter... ISRAEL EDITION. (Hey!! I like the sound of that!)
I went to the Holy Land armed with medication and a doctor's note to get it all through security. While the doctor's note was unnecessary, it turned out that the medication wasn't. Now, I'm looking at a whole new set of things I can never do as I adjust to being asthmatic...
I can never work at an incense shop. (Just five minutes in the Church of the Holy Nativity was enough to bring out the inhaler.)
I can never lead tours through Hezekiah's water tunnel. (I had to take the dry Canaanite tunnel to avoid mold.)
I can never run a "Kirsten's Kamels for Kids" camel-riding service. (I had the polo shirts ordered and everything... but then I realized that camels -- even kamels -- shed.)
I can never be an archeologist. (Just because all the people that lived in that tel died doesn't mean all the dust mites did.)
I can never join the Israeli army. (Besides the fact that I'm not Israeli, they require their soldiers to run up Masada. Dust, heat, more dust, exercise, and more heat... not a good combination.)
I can never be part of a Bedouin sheik's harem. (I have allergic reactions to their tents, although I'm sure they'd love a doll like me.)
With love from an absolute doll,
P.S. -- While I hope you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek post, I'd appreciate your prayers as I do try to get my asthma stabilized, if not even improved. I'm sure I'm on this journey for a reason, but that hasn't made it any easier. Love, EJ
P.P.S. -- I'll tell you why Monopoly is so annoying in a later post. -- EJ
I've been doing an internship at my home church this summer, a church of about 200 people in rural America. They've given me the responsibility of planning and leading the worship every Sunday morning, under the supervision of our pastor.
What a learning experience! The challenge of selecting music, preparing it, doing transitions and modulations, leading rehearsals, and deciding what to say and when during the service -- well, it's been huge! Still, one thing stands out:
This is what God wants me to do.
Have you ever had one of those experiences where you're doing what He created you to do and it's beautiful? I look out on the congregation on Sunday mornings... and they're worshiping. We're all worshiping. We're doing it together, and God is using me to encourage His people.
Oh, yes, there will be moments of conflict, and I see that. There will be times in the future when my tears aren't joyful. But there's something incredible about worshiping with His people, His church.
I could theorize about what music to choose, and what instrumentation is best. I could talk about how the practicality of the future isn't worked out. I could moan and groan about searching for the right grad school, and not knowing how performance and worship ministry fit together. (In later posts, I probably will... after all, you've got to let a little doll moan and groan once in a while, right?) But right now, I just want to absorb the moment that is this summer.
I want to realize that all these years of asking and praying, all those questions of whether I was actually doing what He wanted me to do... well, it's worth it. I've wondered, asking God whether there was purpose to this. I've struggled, knowing that I want to serve Him, but not being willing to surrender completely. But now, I look back, and what do I see?
His hand is in it all. He led me to Moody, even when I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do the rest of my life. He brought me home during the summers not just to give me a job, but so that He could give me a passion for His church and His people. He brought me through a painful year of sickness and frustration, so He could show me that it's His grace empowering me to follow Him.
Even if He did all this just so that I could lead and learn this summer, it was worth it. But coupled with the blessing of the summer is an excitement for the future, because He's not done with me yet.
The Judean desert is one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen.
It also serves as a beautiful metaphor for the land of Israel itself. I returned from Israel over a month ago, and it's taken some time to process this trip. (Hence the lack of blog posts...) The choir did eleven concerts during our two weeks there, encouraging and fortifying messianic congregations as well as an established Arab church.
The land of Israel is lost. I think that's a misconception I had before going. I expected that my choir would be a light in a bright land. After all -- everyone knows about Jesus there, right? Everyone's worshiping God...
Wrong. As I discovered, we were more like a light in a dark land, surrounded by Jewish people who are waiting for a Messiah when He has already come, tourists who are worshiping the place rather than the God who created it, and Muslims who think that by their works they will gain access to heaven. Gazing out on the city of Jerusalem, I saw shrines to false religion, and graves placed so that they would be nearer to Messiah when He comes.
Here we were, in the midst of this dark land, proclaiming the truth. That God is loving and merciful, that Messiah has come and is living within us, that He will return again, yes, but that at that time, we should be worshiping Him for who He is.
It's like Ein Gedi, one of my favorite sites that we visited. In the midst of the dry Judean desert, this waterfall is an oasis. Streams of fresh, living water provide a chance for respite.
As we visited messianic congregations in Israel, I realized that they are that respite. They are those streams in the desert, and we were, in essence, bringing refreshment and replenishment to them. Perhaps the thrust of the tour wasn't solely evangelistic, but we fortified churches that will then go out and water the desert.
As you think about it, pray for the Christians in Israel. It's a very difficult place to be a believer, as I saw firsthand a month ago, and I wonder if many of us may have similar misconceptions. Pray that this body of believers would be streams in the desert.