As I have wrote about previously, I had the incredible opportunity to spend a week in Israel. The trip had such a profound impact on my life. The only events I would say have impacted me more are when I got saved and when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Being able to tour around Israel and go to many places that I have read about in the Bible was amazing. Having the opportunity to walk around some of the same places that Jesus was brought a whole new appreciation for what He did for me. I already believed the Bible was real, but seeing all these places brought a new depth to the Bible. I’ve talked to people about the trip, but it is honestly hard to put into words what I learned in Israel.
We spent our last day of the trip in Jerusalem. We started by going to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. I stood there and thought about Jesus praying right before He was arrested. I thought about how He prayed and asked God if there was any other way but then said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Knowing exactly what was coming, Jesus said that prayer and made that decision to give up His life. I thought about some of the things that God has told me to do that I have struggled with, and I thought about how petty this seemed in the light of the decision Jesus had to make. It made me feel foolish at the little things I struggled to trust God with compared to how Jesus trusted God with His life.
Later that afternoon, we went to the Garden Tomb. The Garden Tomb is one of the sites where it is believed Jesus could have been buried. It is right next to the hill they believe could have been Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. Being there and recounting the story of how Jesus was brutally beaten and crucified, while looking at the place that this could have happened, brought a realness to those events that I had never felt before. Our guide at the Garden Tomb said, “Whether it happened here or somewhere else is not what really matters. What really matters is that it happened.” Standing in the place it could have happened, I had a very vivid picture of what did happen.
As I traveled around Israel, there was one theme that stood out the most to me: there are consequences for our sins. When I spent a couple hot days in the dessert, I thought about how the children of Israel had to walk around in those conditions for forty years. As I went to all the sites that Jesus had been, I thought about how He came to die for our sins. When I saw the temple mount in Jerusalem, that is now that home of two mosques, I thought about how that used to be the place the God dwelt. Almost everywhere we went, you could see the impact of sin.
It made me think a lot about the sin in my life that I make excuses for, thinking that it won’t really matter. I’m sure the Israelites didn’t think it was that big of a deal when they decided not to enter the promised land because they were scared. Their punishment was for that generation to never be allowed into the promised land. Jesus came to die for my sins, and yet I pretend they aren’t that big of a deal. I don’t think that is really the smartest decision to make. No matter how much we like to pretend that our sins don’t have an impact on our lives, they do. Nothing made that more real to me than standing on the Mount of Olives and looking at the temple mount in Jerusalem.
Luckily for us it doesn’t end there. Just like God redeemed the children of Israel and eventually brought them into the promised land, God redeems us. In order for that to take place, we have to confess and repent of our sins. We have to stop acting like they don’t have an impact on our lives. Acts 3:19 says, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Not only do you have to repent but you have to turn to God. You can’t turn to God and hold onto your sin at the same time. You can’t hold sin in your life and expect to have all that God has for you. The time to stop making excuses is now.
until next time…