It is Tuesday, January 16th, at 8:30 am. – Two hundred people gather on two boats and, in a matter of minutes, are in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Dr. Katherine is there, and Miss Lucille is there as well as my sister and mother. I look to the northeast, and there is the West Bank, the intensely disputed territory taken by Isreal during the Six Days War. I turn, and there is Capernaum – the center of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. I look to the northwest and see the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and just a bit to the south I see Tabgha – the place where Jesus fed more than five thousand men, women, and children. The Sea of Galilee, where Jesus calmed the raging Sea and walked on water. We would visit Cana of Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine, and Mount Tabor – the site of the fierce battle between the Israelites led by Debora and Barak and Sisera’s Canaanite chariot army. There was Nazareth and the Jezreel Valley and Megiddo. The list of sites we saw during our time is the Holy Land goes on and on. It was indeed an incredible experience – hearing the Scriptures read in the very location where the events took place was nothing short of awesome!
Being surrounded by the landscape of the bible was impressive. It does not, however, compare to the experience I had while in Jerusalem, not while in the Old City or touring the Holy sites outside the city wall, but rather the experience I had while sick for three days in my hotel room.
For two days, I had been feeling ill but determined to see and experience the sites and sounds of the Holy Land – I pressed on as best I could. But, not today. The group was headed for the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. There was no way I was going to endure that trip, feeling the way I did. I had a fever, my stomach was all messed up, and I was continually going to the bathroom. The group left, and I stayed behind disappointed I wouldn’t see the Dead Sea. But God had something special for me that day. It was His presence. I sensed His being present in my room almost tangibly so. I still felt lousy, but lousy with God is an awesome thing!
When the group returned, I was feeling better but still nauseous. My sister, Kay, had some Imodium AD. She offered me some and gave me a bottle of water from her bag. I took the pills and then a big gulp of water – I almost died! The bottle she gave me was filled with water from the Dead Sea. She had given me the wrong container. So, I didn’t miss the Dead Sea; the Dead Sea came to me! A place is not Holy because of past events. It’s Holy because of God’s revealed presence! It is a specific moment in which I am aware of His goodness, love, and Power. And that my friend can happen anywhere and anytime! MAYBE EVEN THIS VERY DAY!