To some, Israel might be just a location—a home for Jews and Palestinians and the center of the three main religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
In addition to the many sacred sites of religion and history, Israel holds a special bond between God and members of all three of these religions. This can have a personal impact on just about anyone who is willing to embrace it. This past June I had the privilege to go on a seventeen-day trip with my family to Israel. Although Israel is a beautiful country, the spiritual influence of its culture and history impressed me most.
There’s a cactus fruit that grows in Israel called “Sabra.” Quite like the Jewish people, it has a thick outer skin but is very soft and sweet on the inside. Learning about the history of the Jewish people explains this Sabra personality they all seem to acquire. They have been kicked out of their land numerous times but always pull through and manage to gain it back again. And although Israel has their state back, this is still very provocative due to the Palestinian land that remains in parts of Israel. However, despite all the controversy, they remain strong in their loyalty to God and their promised land.
Every day was a new experience with its own specific influence. Some stood out more than others, but nothing ever felt dull. One experience that stood out to me the most was snorkeling at Eilat. I was wonderstruck by the beauty. It was like a new world under the water—like a dream. When I was a younger I used to pretend there was a kingdom under the bath water that only I could see. This almost brought that dream to life. Fish of every color swam right next to me as if I wasn’t there. The water was clear as glass, and the coral and plant life was like nothing I had ever seen before.
On a more spiritual note, the Master’s cave on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee stood out as significant to my journey in this land. This is the traditional spot where Yeshua prayed alone at night or in the early morning hours. To be completely honest, I was not going into this trip thinking about the holiness of where I was or about connecting with God. There were stresses, including work and school, that I was excited to escape. But as I sat down in the quaint little cave and my dad began to explain its history, I thought of the millions of people who have come to this very same spot looking for answers—some about a spouse, or healing, or even just for a connection. For some reason, I felt a lump in my throat. What was my reason? There had to be one. I was put not only into this cave but also this world for a purpose. My eyes felt as if there was an ocean inside and if I blinked even once there could be a flood of tears. I closed my eyes and felt a warm sensation around my body as if God was giving me a hug. At that moment, I felt important. I have a purpose, and I want to fulfill whatever God has planned for me.
With all its culture, history, beauty, and purpose, it’s almost impossible to leave Israel without being affected. And just like the history and culture of Israel and its people, I believe everyone has a purpose in this world. I found a new sense of purpose in that special place, which gives the land a whole new meaning to me.