Prior to leaving for Israel, our group had several meetings to prepare us for the terrain and overall lay of the land that we were about to explore. One thing that was left off our agenda was a list of exactly where we would go. We knew the area – we would be in Israel – but we didn’t have the specifics. We knew we would be pushed to our physical limits, but weren’t sure when or how. We knew we would have a limited supply of food and water while out on our day hikes and we had to trust that the people in charge would provide. Our backpacks had a special compartment for 2 liters of water called a camel-back. They call it that because camels store water in their humps, and just like a camel we carried our water on our backs. We knew we would be consuming between 4-6 liters a day.
We began to get the feel for how the days would go on that very first morning. We flew in to Tel-Aviv on Tuesday night after 16 hours of traveling, made it to our hotel rooms and passed out. Seven hours later we got our first wake-up call to be downstairs and ready for breakfast in 30 min. After another 30 minutes we were on the bus and headed to our first site. Upon sitting down in our seats we were all handed 2 liter bottles of water and told to fill our packs. There was a buzz around the bus about where we were going first. All of us were excited and not sure if we were tired or not.. just ready to experience what God had graciously let us be a part of.
The first lesson I learned while in Israel: Hold your camels.
It sounds silly… but there is a deep meaning behind those words. I’m not sure that Ronen (our Israeli tour guide) meant it that way or not, but each time he rolled his eyes and gave a huff I felt like God was telling me to chill out. There were several on the bus that wanted to know each detail and would ask questions the whole way to the next site trying to figure out where we were going and how to prepare for it so they would be fully aware of what was going on. In my mind, as I watched the interaction between the ones who knew where we were going (Ronen, Mair our driver, and Brian our pastor), and the sheep who were just supposed to follow (the rest of us), I saw a larger picture of life.
When we are born we are placed in a family of God’s choosing (this is like the bus). We don’t get to pick the personalities we will go through life with, or decide who will be our bus driver or tour guide. We are on the bus, and going somewhere with the rest of our people. We are given certain things for our journey to help us make it through, like water and some of the other people on the journey – though sometimes we don’t realize how important those things are until later. We have to just keep moving. We really have no other choice, even if we don’t know where we are going… we are still going. There is no turning back, no stopping, no waiting to find out what the future holds before we are already stepping onto that ground. We just have to wait and see. We have to hold our camels.
As the days progressed the tensions between those who desperately wanted to know where we were going and those who were leading us grew stronger. There was impatience. There was much rolling of eyes and huffing and puffing. Inside I laughed, thinking about how God feels with us each day when we pray to Him asking for things to go a certain way. I looked at Ronen while he was sarcastically telling one of us to ‘hold our camels’ and I thought of my relationship with God. Why do I feel like I have the right to know where I am going? He created me for a purpose – even though I sometimes have no idea what it is. He has placed me here in this time for a reason and eventually I will get there… but I may not even realize it until after it’s happened.
I just have to trust Him.
I have to be able to enjoy the hike while I’m on it and stop asking so many questions or trying to get my way through it all. I have to wait and see what He has in store because suddenly I’ll stop and realize that I’m standing on a mountain that I just hiked up and wondering how in the heck did that happen… what a view. It’s in those moments of seeing what He is showing me that I am struck with awe and so thankful that my God loves me and leads me.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare. – Psalm 40
The below photos are from our hike to the top of Mt. Arbel overlooking the Galilee.