Thursday, May 27, 2010
a fortress and an oasis: Masada & Engedi: days 5 & 6
It feels so good to spread the wings of my fingers over these keys. I feel like I have a bit of emotional jet-lag this week that comes in waves as I try to let my process flow. The things I am want to share today are especially meaningful as last night our pastor and friend, Larry Doornbos was hit by a car while riding his bike. He has some major injuries but is expected to have a full recovery which in my mind is nothing short of a full blown miracle and I stand amazed.
The more we walk with people and have relationships, the messier I realize life is with pain and joy flowing together and walking hand-in-hand. It seems that you can't have one without the other and I think the 2 places I want to write about today capture the battle and the beauty.
One of the things that shocked me the most about our time in Israel was learning that when it says in the text that "Jesus was born in the time of King Herod", it wasn't just communicating the political situation but the embodiment of an entire world view, of Hellenism (believing man is the center of everything). It was "go Herod, or go home" from literally moving mountains to building fortresses to demanding freshwater in his pools in the desert, no cost was too high for Herod the Great.
So when we came to this fortress in the desert, Masada, where Herod spent only 2% of his time, I couldn't get my mind around how massive & indestructible this place is. And the view, with the Dead Sea sprawled out and the mountains in the distance, that left nothing to be desired. But even more than that, it made me think of the Christy Nockels song that I love: "A mighty fortress is our God". And David, when fleeing to the desert and hiding out in strongholds (which translates as Masada) had the highly intimate times with God where he wrote these words:
Psalm 18:2 "I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge."
So take comfort from the pain, fear, destruction, whatever is going on around you because if you could feel the enormity of the Masada, the fortress and rock God is your life and mine, we would rest. And if you are like me, you struggle to rest there, but there ain't no way anyone is going to mess with a fortress like that.
Ryan & I at the entryway into one part of Masada:
this is a view of one of the tiers of Herod's palace, if you look at the picture at the top of the post you can see the tiers off the left cliff:
this was my first view of Engedi, looking up into the shady cover of date trees...the land flowing with milk & honey because the land is rich enough for goats (milk) and farming (honey). --Deuteronomy 11:9
After only 3 days, ok 3 hours in the desert, you begin to get a picture of what the Israelites endured, the heat, the dryness, the longing. Isn't life this way sometimes, where we just can't imagine walking much longer without a drink of water? And we don't know where or how it will come but just pray that we are able to be refreshed even for a moment. And I think that goes back to what I was saying about joy & sorrow being married, that when we live in community we share those pieces with each other and give one another drinks and also walk through desert places together. You can't go alone.
Our entire group @ Engedi:
Engedi was a beautiful reminder of not only the dire need for community but God's promise and desire for it. It was truly out in the middle of nowhere along the Dead Sea that we happened upon Engedi and you can't replace the sheer joy and excitement of finding something like this. There is something God is trying to say here too about His greater purposes, of justice and righteousness, of compelling others with and through love.
Isaiah 41:17-18 the poor & needy search for water but there is none...But I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them...I will turn the desert into pools of water.