I don’t fly much, but I’ve been fortunate that the few times I have flown, my luggage has arrived with me. As we set off for Israel, I figured this would be a really good opportunity to make up for that. I did not figure, however, that my guitar would be the thing that got misplaced. Alas, all my bags made it except for, you guessed it, my guitar. How they managed to lose something that I took to the gate with me is beyond my imaginings, but they did. It was not a good feeling to be at the airport and see all the bags picked up on the belt, but no guitar case.
So the first night and the second day were spent with me leading worship acapella. Let’s just say I’m a tad more comfortable with a guitar in my hand! But after a trip up to Caesarea by the sea, we got word that my guitar had arrived and was waiting for me on our tour bus. Needless to say, I was very happy, as the picture below can attest!
The fact that the guitar was in one piece was made more remarkable by the shape of the case. It looked like the baggage handlers had played futbol with it! Amazingly, my guitar was ok, and the rest of the group was not to be subjected to my unaccompanied vocals any longer!
At this point in the trip, I still think I was in shock as to where we were. We’d see Tel Aviv, Joppa, Caesarea, and were on our way north to the region of the Sea of Galilee, and I was just kind of taking it all in. We stopped for lunch at a local eatery (no McD’s or Taco Bell on this trip! Only local mom and pop operations, and they all rocked!), and I had my first taste of an Israeli falafel. It was amazing (probably the best one on the whole trip).
But, that’s a story for another day. After lunch, we headed to the destination that would bring it all home for me: Mt. Carmel.
Having worship and a Bible study at the top of Mt. Carmel was quite amazing, when you consider what took place there with Elijah and the 450 “prophets” of Baal (read it….awesome!), but it wasn’t until we climbed some stairs to a viewing platform at the very top of the mountain that the thought “Oh man, I am in the land of Israel” really hit home. This was the view:
I’m a mountain boy. Always have been. Standing on this mountain, in the Holy Land, and looking at this panoramic view would be amazing enough for me. However, when Shimon, our guide, pointed out that the hill you see in the distance at the top of the picture was Nazareth, it was like the world stopped for me at that moment. I was standing on Mt. Carmel, where Elijah saw the fire of God fall on the altar drenched in water, and I was looking at the hometown of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. In between my feet and Nazareth, that picturesque valley between, was none other than the Jezreel valley. You might know it as Armageddon. That valley is the one that the antichrist will assemble his armies in his last-ditch effort to fight the King of Kings. Yeah. Let’s just say that at this point, I found the reality that I was in Israel coming home with full force.
Everywhere I looked from Mt. Carmel, I could see places I had read about in the Bible my whole life. It’s hard to put that realization into words, but as so many have said since we returned, it’s like the Bible becomes 3D. I stood there, trying to soak it all in, trying to come to grips with it all. I’m not sure I did. Just today, as I read in Mark 6 about Jesus leaving the Sea of Galilee and returning to Nazareth, these images popped in my head. Real places. Real people. And a real God.
I was there.