Jerusalem Journal # 177
Have you ever had the sensation that you were witnessing history and you felt compelled to chronicle it in some way, whether through film, photograph, journal, or a letter? Step with me onto the narrow garden pathway for a glimpse at just a few of the images which serve as a reminder of God’s power to transform.
I am living among the ruins of civilizations past, yet—flourishing in this Garden of Eden. Such a sobering, but, deliciously beautiful dichotomy! Daily I am reminded that the very soil upon which I am dwelling is a gift of unbelievable proportion. The unfolding of ancient promises becoming touchable reality humbles me to the core as my eyes absorb visible evidences of God’s faithfulness in the diversity of people filling this land, as well as patterned stretches of once-desert wilderness now a cornucopia of fruit and vegetables. Transformation!
The prophet Ezekiel’s words paint a portrait of hope—and hope is one of those golden threads which has inextricably woven me into the tapestry of this Land of the Bible. “And the desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. And they will say, “This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it (Ezekiel 36:34-36).”
Once upon a time in Lakeland, Florida, I was scavenging through antique shops and flea markets asking the Lord for His ideas about decorating a home in which I found myself alone, deserted. I was bold enough to ask Him for things which would bring to mind His provision for me amid the ruins and wilderness wanderings following an invasion by infidelity that brought destruction to my 25-year marriage. His answer? Ironically, it was “Hooty,” the stuffed owl, whose speckled feathers, talons, and short beak served him well in his former life, but would give me opportunity to show others the amazing details of God’s creation up close.
The Arabs have a descriptive word for this enigmatic night creature whose mournful cry pierces the darkness and whose vision scopes out even the tiniest field mouse. They call it, um elcharab, “the mother of ruins,” since owls are known to inhabit waste places, desert areas.
The Hebrew word for desert or wilderness is midbar. I love it that the root of this word means “to speak.” Throughout the Bible, God has spoken to His people in the desert or during wilderness times in their life. It was in my own desert that His whispers spoke the loudest and helped me keep my feet on the rocky pathway.
Well, “Hooty” came home with me that day in 1997, but the full impact of his message for my life was years away, thousands of miles away, and even beyond my imagination. In 2005 “Hooty” was packed up along with furnishings and sent to reside in a Florida storage unit after the sale of my home, until his 2008 migration across the seas to Israel in a shipping container.
Tucked under a lampshade along with “Rocky” the raccoon and “Foxy” the fox, the stuffed menagerie traveled on a nest of pillows in a cardboard box on which was scrawled the words, “Educational Displays.” Today, they share our living space at The Place of Stories, high above the Sea of Galilee, over which fly 500 million migrating birds twice yearly. “Hooty,” now with a slightly broken wing, has a story to tell.
These days, each morning I awake in the Galilee, “Hooty” gives me a symbolic wave of his wing to remind me that even while I dwelt “in the ruins,” the God of transformation was caring for me and saw years ahead to a garden nest Gary and I love to share with others.
Are you living among the ruins of a marriage, a devastating health problem, a financial meltdown, or broken family relationships which have caused a crisis of belief? Feel like you are in a desolate place of wilderness? “Hooty” and I want to encourage you with hope from the spiritual center of the world where, even in the midst of the desert, it is blooming.
***As Thanksgiving approaches for those in America, I want to express how thankful I am that you, my Jerusalem Journal family, are along with me on this virtual journey…allowing me to pour out my passion for this land and the God who holds our future.
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