The morning for most of us was begun with an attempt to watch the sun rise over the Ramon Crater. But those of us that rose early missed it, because breakfast time rolled around before the sun made its appearance. But we were not disappointed. The quietness and coolness of the morning was a balmy beginning to our intense day.
Everyone greatly enjoyed the ibex and were delighted to discover a beautiful ram complacently guarding his herd. He acted as though we never awoke him earlier than he intended. Our thoughts could often go to these sure-footed creatures throughout the day. Habakkuk 3:19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
We head deep into the Negev today:
…down close to the tip of the state of Israel, to Timna. We did an intense 4 hour hike up a mountain there. Joe set the stage of the Israelites traveling through this area. We tried to imagine thousands of people walking these dusty trails.
Along the way, Joe had a beautiful revelation about how some stones are ones that can easily be kicked aside, while others are such that we have to walk around. There are still others that are large enough that we must have help to get over them, and it brings us to our knees. Still others cause us to stumble, fall flat on our face, and we will need a strong hand to lift us up. And wait– aren’t there also tiny stones that slip into our shoes, unnoticed, which after awhile, though we think of them as insignificant, will cause a sore, and an ongoing discomfort? Such it is through life as well.
And then Joe tells us that God will show up today by asking to carry your pack, or reaching out to take your hand. Will we accept it? Or will we steal another’s blessing? He reminds us that each one of us represents God, having been created in His image as Genesis 1:27 says… So God created _______ in his own image, in the image of God he created_______; male and female he created them. (Place your name in the blank.) And then in Genesis 1:31: And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. That includes you, my friend! With this in mind, he said, ‘Be strong, be strong, make each other strong.’
Being an overcomer breeds courage for the rest of the way!
Would we have attempted this had we known what it will look like? Yet when we trust the rabbi to pick the path, we will discover that even if it’s as hard as it looks, he will lead us in what he believes to be the best path for us.
Victory is sweet for those who ended up at the back of the line. We had to trust the rabbi is waiting up ahead, and that we shall see his face once more. We also had to rely on those walking ahead of us to be walking in the steps of the rabbi, so that we may be able to enjoy the sweetness of walking in the paths that he walked. Now and then, according to the way of those ahead of us, it seemed that the rabbi walked a double path, and one had to ask “Is this the way the rabbi walked?” If we had not kept our faith in him, we would have given up.
Without drinking of the Living Water it is impossible to survive the heat of the desert.
At times, a stone, standing solid, provided just a little shade to cool us down and give us the courage to go just a little farther.
We were posed with the question: What did God want from these people when He gathered the Israelite host at the foot of the mountain? Brokenness? Obedience? Their heart? Surrendered life? Faith? Fellowship? Relationship! God proposed marriage to His people Israel– could it be that the Ten Commandments, as we are used to calling them, were His Love Letter to them? He wanted to make them a Kingdom of priests in a prodigal world. Isaiah 52:7; How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” OUR feet were on this mountain, and God is saying they are beautiful!!!
A pillar of stones was erected. What did your stone represent? What are you saying to God? What is He saying to you?
Before we headed down the mountain, one of the brothers reminded us that going down seems easier, but that it is most dangerous.
Sometimes the path is only ‘one man’s foot wide’ for there is slick rock on either side!
This little plant was an inspiration for anyone who was enjoying the journey enough to notice the little blessings the Father placed along the path. When it’s leaves were crushed by the feet on the path, it brought forth a pleasing aroma that wafts up and out around the bend in the trail to bless those that had not even trod upon it, nor noticed it. An innocent little plant spoke volumes to such weary souls- when others tread upon our hearts, do we send forth a pleasing aroma?
A hurried dinner was awaiting at the end of the dusty trail– flaffel in pita pockets, and wait- is that french fries and ketchup? We must be Americans.
And then we were hurried off to the replica of the Tabernacle, where we were given a wonderful presentation about what is represented to God and the Israelites in their day, and how it still connects and impacts the Story today.
After this, the weary pilgrims settle in for a long 2 hour drive to the hotel, being rudely interrupted for one more quick teaching session (that threw most of us for a loop), and one super sweet stop for ice-cream, iced coffee, or whatever one chose. You don’t suppose that after a tough hike, God treated the Israelites in this way, do you? But I trust that in His own way, He blessed them with sweetness along the way.