Everyone’s experiences were unique. From walking up Mt. Sinai to sailing across the Sea of Galilee to standing on the Mount of Olives where Jesus ascended back to heaven, it is hard to explain the surreal moments and emotions you feel when you actually SEE what you’ve always only READ in the past! As Phil was fond of saying, “What you’ve always seen in black and white, you now see in color!”
This past week, approximately thirty Northside members returned from a tour of Egypt and Israel (Ray Fuson, my son Robert and I joined the group in Israel). Awesome! Fantastic! Overwhelm-ing! Wonderful! Unfortunately, there are not enough words to describe the time we spent where people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Debra, Ruth, David, Elijah, (I think you get the point) all lived, walked, talked, died and were buried. Of course, the highlight of the week were the places where Jesus lived, walked, talked, died and was buried—oh yeah, he also arose again and ascended back into heaven where he sits at the right hand of God Most High.
The very first evening in Tel Aviv, I couldn’t help but think of the Apostle Peter as he stayed at the house of Simon the Tanner which Luke says was “by the sea” (Acts 10:32). Our hotel was literally just up the shore from where Simon’s house would have been.
The second morning, I woke up in Tiberius, a city just south of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Remem-bering that Jesus got up early in the morning to go out to a solitary place to pray, I found a spot on the rocks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee where I could pray. I couldn’t hold back the tears as I thought of praying not far from where Jesus talked with his Heavenly Father. It was emotionally overwhelming. Most of us experienced moments like that.
We explored the area where Peter made the good confession. We walked in the courts of the Temple where Jesus taught the people. We stood in the garden where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Perhaps the most moving time was when we gazed upon a hill that looked like a skull—Golgotha/Calvary. We then waited silently to enter the garden tomb where it is believed Jesus was buried and raised again the third day. Gathering nearby in a circle, we were led by Reed Richardson in singing “Up From The Grave He Arose.” That song immediately took on a new mean-ing.
Special appreciation goes to Phil Kinzer for organizing and leading the tour. Phil did an awesome job of placing each place we visited within its histori-cal setting. I think I speak for all who joined in this spiritual pilgrimage—thank you Phil!