The hardest part about the trip to Israel is the trip to Israel. We are 9 hours ahead of the time that God intended in Middle Tennessee. That means I am writing this blog at 2am on Monday morning and, thanks to the amazing magic of the internet, many of you will read it at 7pm on Sunday night, that really is quite amazing. If we could figure out how to play the lottery this way, we’d be on to something. But it’s not just the time adjustment. The security, as you might imagine, is incredibly tight on every leg of this wonderful journey. We checked our bags in Nashville for a flight through Atlanta, to JFK International Airport in New York City. There every piece of luggage was meticulously screened, checked, and even rummaged through before we could board the plane to Tel Aviv. Who knew that Metamucil was such a suspicious material? And the kind young TSA person can’t spell discrete. “Hey Mack,” he yells across the packed airport check in hall, while holding high the bright orange container, “This guy has this fiber stuff. Can we let this go through?” (I’m sure no pun was intended.). Upon landing in Tel Aviv the same security procedures, sans the 16oz bottle of Metamucil.
in Tel Aviv, having cleared customs, rounded up all stragglers, reported the luggage that didn’t make it, (not mine. My sister’s. Bet she wishes she hadn’t rocked that hot pink Jimmy Buffet shirt to travel in.), we boarded a bus load of busses and drove through nearly bumper to bumper traffic all the way from Tel Aviv to The Holy City of Jerusalem, a trip that took about 2 hours. If Jesus Himself had met us at the David Citadel Hotel we would have still been pretty curt and said, “We just need to go to bed Jesus.”
So let’s recap. On Saturday morning, Doris and I woke up at 6am to make the last preparations, and head out the door to catch Jakson’s basketball game (8 points, killed the other team) at 8am, then Jon-Mical’s 9am game (4 points, aggressive defense, beat the undefeated Maverick.s, #gowarriors), jump in the car for the Nashville Airport, flew to Atlanta, then JFK, then Tel Aviv, then a bus ride to Jerusalem, and the check in at the David Citadel hotel at 8pm on SUNDAY NIGHT! Yep, that about sums it up. The hardest part is just the trip.
That is pretty much life anyway, isn’t it? The destinations in life are always wonderful, or at least we think they will be. Graduations. Marriages. Having kids. Raising kids. Careers. Retirements. All of that stuff seems so fun looking into it, but in the rear view mirror most of us would say the journey was more strenuous than we thought it would be. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, (not far from here by the way,) “Don’t worry about tomorrow. It has enough trouble on its own. Just focus on today.” Matthew 6:34. Just take it one step, one leg, one checkpoint at a time. In fact, if we stay too focused on the destination we will miss many of the wonderful things that God is doing along the way. The ticket guy in New York named Prelude, that said, “Let me help you check in here in terminal 1. It will be twice as fast as waiting until you get to Terminal 4.” Or the young luggage handler in Tel Aviv that said, “I love for Christian groups to come see my country, it connects us somehow.” All along your very circuitous route, God has been placing serendipities, secret, joyful little moments to remind you that the trip is really the most important part.
And then, just to be sure, He tells us again to make sure we are headed for the RIGHT destination. “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” He says, “And His righteousness, then all these things will be added to you as well.” So that’s the lesson for this first day in Israel, keep your eyes on the right goal but don’t forget to see all the cool things on the trip as well. I’ll try to check in each day, for now I’m going to try to grab a quick nap before breakfast and the first full day of touring, or for you, that would be midnight snack sometime yesterday…..forget it. I’m headed to the Mount of Olives.