Back in September of 2018 Susan and I were in the midst of our Sabbatical. We had just visited our son in Texas and drove from there to St. Joseph Missouri, from Missouri to Chicago, from Chicago to Ohio and from Ohio back home. In a car with no air conditioning. It was 106 degrees when we left Texas and got only slightly better from there. But I am not writing about Texas or Chicago or Ohio. Or New Jersey. Or driving without air conditioning. I am writing about St. Joseph Missouri and Israel.
We had gone to Missouri to go to a prayer conference that was being held by Word of Life Church and led by their pastor Brian Zahnd. Brian is the author of several books including Water To Wine, Sinners In The Hands Of A Loving God and Postcards From Babylon. Before one of the prayer sessions we were in the hallway and ran into Brian’s wife Peri. At some point in our conversation she had mentioned that their church was planning a trip to Israel in March of 2020. It would be their 22nd time going to Israel. Susan and I said that we would like to one day go to Israel but it was not on our immediate Bucket List. But Peri said we should consider it and put our name on their mailing list, telling us we would receive an email when they began taking reservations. We, of course, thought this was a very kind gesture and of course we thought that there was no way in the world they would remember to send us an invitation. We were wrong. In the summer of 2019 we received an email inviting us on the tour.
After much prayer and discernment we decided we would take the plunge and go. We knew that it would be a financial challenge but would be worth the investment. And the risk.
We try to live life with an “expect the unexpected” attitude. In other words, we are not surprised by too much because, well, that’s life. Weird and unplanned for things happen. But never in our wildest imagination did we think that a virus would threaten our trip. Unless you are living in a cave you are well aware that the Coronavirus is seemingly spreading across the entire world. Just try to get a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer. It’s nowhere to be found. Amazon, Walgreens, CVS. All out of stock. Major tourist sites are closing. We just heard today that Bethlehem and the West Bank are now closed. We were supposed to be staying in Bethlehem for three nights so they are working on finding new lodging accommodations for us. Who knows what other sites might be closed by time we leave on Sunday night. Or if the trip will be canceled altogether.
When we drove from Texas to Missouri the thought of going to Israel never crossed our minds. Not once. When we finally booked the trip the thought of not going to Israel never crossed our minds. We have no control over what will happen. Mark, who is going with us, has no control. Brian and Peri, who are running the trip, have no control. The only control we have is the decisions we make and the attitude we hold. So many people have asked: “Why are you going to Israel now?” Well, I guess I could ask the same thing about going to New York, or for that matter, Hackensack, where cases or suspicion of the Coronavirus have been reported. So, we plan on going to Israel Sunday night unless something changes. As James reminds us:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13 – 15).
So, Lord willing, we are going to Israel on Sunday night. We will see you when we get back on March 20th. Please pray for us and for all who are going on this trip.
What do you think?
How does it make you feel?