Today we started our adventuring kind of early. A 6:30am wake up call, 7am bags out and headed down to breakfast. We loaded the bus and were out of the hotel gates by 8am. We headed first to the River Jordan. I have realized that I don’t know a whole lot about the bible stories that happen in the Old Testament. I mean, there are several stories about the River Jordan that I didn’t know. Anyway, as we were walking to the river, we had to pass some fields where old churches have been built to mark a “holy” place or places. These fields and their ruins if you’ll allow me to use that term a bit loosely, are gated in with barbed wire on the fences and little signs.
Danger. Mines. We thought about how strange it is to us that there would be mines in a location like this.
While we were at the Jordan River, we had a quick scripture discussion. It was interesting to see soldiers sitting nearby, to have mass going on behind us, and to have another Christian group down by the river singing all at once. It was very easy to feel the Spirit there with us. I even put my feet in the water before we left.
After the river, we went over to Elisha’s spring then to Bet She’an. Bet She’an is an interesting site. It has a lot of Roman ruins (columns, bath house, theater, ancient commode…) and some Byzantine traces as well.
Following our time in Bet She’an, we went over to the spring and stream where Gideon may have led his troops before their battle. As the story goes, Gideon brought his men before The Lord before he went to battle against the Midianites. God said that there were too many, so Gideon said whomever was afraid to fight or who wanted to go home should go and 22,000 of the 32,000 left. But there were still too many men. So God told Gideon to take his men to drink water from a spring; those who lapped the water like a dog (with their face to the water) should be sent away and only those who scooped water to their faces should stay and so the story goes there were only 300 men who stayed to fight the Midianites who were like locusts in the valley.
We also had the opportunity to go to this neat mini-Nazareth replica village today. It is in Nazareth and they claim to be built where a farm had been standing during the time of Christ. It was neat to see the olive press and the what the wine press would look like at that time. We also received little oil lamps as part of our ticket. It will be a cool little reminder of the trip!
I was debating whether or not to write some of the thoughts and feelings I had today, but I think I will share two things…it might end up being a bit more than that…but my intentions are good.
1. Going back to yesterday, which now I can’t remember if I wrote very much about, when we visited Masada. Joseph (our Palestinian Catholic guide) said that the people who died at Masada, the ones who killed their families and then themselves, were making a statement. They were trying to convey that they did not die from natural causes, from starvation, or from dehydration; these people chose to die, to take their own lives, in order to send a message that they took their lives and they would rather take the punishment of God for what they did than allow themselves and their children to be enslaved or their women abused. They had such strong convictions to their faith, that they would not surrender to the will of the Romans.
2. At the morning devotional, we talked about “receiving” things. We talked about how it takes faith and action on our part for a gift to be truly received. We compared this to how the Holy Ghost, the gospel, and Christ must also be things we have faith in and take action in behalf of.
3. Lastly, thinking about Gideon and his men, there was a point made that the 300 chosen to stay would have to have a lot of faith. But it doesn’t say that the other 9,700 men were bad men or that they were chastised and sent home. These other men just didn’t go into the initial battle. Additionally, the men who were not among the 300 and other things to do. It doesn’t matter when you are called or what you are called to do, as long as you take courage and drink deep. You will find a task that has been set aside specifically for you and your experiences will have prepared you for it.