This story was originally written on June 4, 2011 by Cindy Shum on her final day in Israel after an incredible three-week journey in the Holy Land of Israel.
I couldn't quite believe 3 weeks just flown by so fast! I remember the first day when I arrived and was staying in this room at Knight Palace Hotel (in Jerusalem, near the Jaffa Gate), thinking ahead: What are You Lord going to show me in these coming 3 weeks? What am I going to see hear and touch?
As I am about to leave (this evening at 8:00 pm), and have come back to this same room again (after traveling out of Jerusalem to the Hill Country, visiting the Shephelah of Judah, living in Ashkelon, moving on to the Philistine Plain and Negev, traveling down to Dead Sea, visiting the famous Masada and Ein Gedi, surviving the heat of Qumran, then moving on to the Sharon Plain, staying at Mount Carmel, then traveling to my most longed for Nazareth of Galilee where my Beloved Lord spent His childhood and adulthood, living beside the Sea of Galilee, and then moving yesterday back to Jerusalem), I couldn't help but praise the Lord, for His amazing graciousness - granting me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit this city in which He had chosen to place His Name, in this land - the land that He had so amazingly promised to His people, and had so faithfully led to enter from slavery!
In the past 3 weeks, I've seen and met many of God's chosen people - the people that He loves so much, the people He's been calling, calling, calling, to turn back to Him, to embrace Him truly as their Lord and Savior, the people to whom He'd sent so many prophets in the past to their midst, callling, calling ... "Turn away from your idols .... Return! Return to Me ..."
The land, the vast land, the land that is flowing with milk and honey (apparently, because of the dates produced which are so sweet!), and the rugged, sun-scorched, dry, and hard wilderness .... I began to understand why His people were whining and complaining ... it's indeed no fun to be traveling under the scorching heat, you just thirst for some shadows from some rocks, and the quenching of thirst from some streams in the desert ... we were also whining and complaining during our trip ... some said, "my goodness, I didn't realize this is a historical geography course, why so much walking? When is this heat going to end?" Oh, the mud brick houses, the simple life people had been living in ..... all these just made me amaze unceasingly how much Jesus loves His Father and us! Why on earth would my Lord leave the glory in His throne room in Heaven to come down to live in such condition, such land, among such people!! And the way from Galilee to Jerusalem, the long distance, the treading on His sandals, bracing against dust, sand, wind and heat all the time, not to mention even the complaint, the misunderstanding and the murderous plots against Him! All these, for what? Why would He even be mindful of us?
In the Garden of Gethsemane, I saw the olive groves which witnessed Jesus' pleading to the Father in sweat mixed with blood .... in Golgotha, where now only tour buses gathered, I saw how lowly a place He had allowed Himself to descend, for the sake of obedience to His Beloved Father, even to the point of death ... in the Garden Tomb, I seemed to hear Mary's sad voice mixed with elation, "Rabboni!!!" and His strong resurrected presence .... on the Mt. of Transfiguration, where Peter uttering nonsense as he leveled His Master with His servants, Elijah and Moses, while he should have remained silent ... on the Mt. of Beatitude, where my Lord gave a new definition of "blessedness" ... on the stairs that led to the temple gate, I seemed to see for the first time what made my Lord mad - turning from His kind gentle meekness into raging anger even with whip in His hand: the hypocrisy and the blatant defilement of His Father's House of Prayer ... and as the bus swiftly passed by the town of Nan where I sensed His loving compassion as He brought life back to the only son of a poor widow!
"Why bring me on this trip? What do you ask of me, Lord? Why did You show these to me?" I asked. "Grant me Your wisdom, O, Lord, to fathom and meditate and understand what abundant blessings and gifts You had in mind to give me, which I have been shaking my head to in stubborn unbelief! Oh, Lord, change me! Renew my soul, weave Your mind into my thoughts and emotions! Grant me love .... the kind of love You are, so I can love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and my neighbor as myself! Plant Your love in me (which I know so well I don't have), let my obedience to You flows out of Your love (genuine love which draws people to You, not to me)! And let this love for You and fear of You be the driving force for everything I do, every word I say, and every thought I nurture within me! Only You, Oh, Lord, can do this! For You said, "Nothing is impossible with God!". And may I be able to say to You as Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38). Oh, Lord, let me reserve my loudest songs for You, my loving benefactor, Jesus Christ my Lord, whose love for me is wonderful, surpassing the love of all human on earth.
"Follow thou Me,
He calls again;
And I will make you fishers of men,
As the days of Galilee,
Jesus is calling you and me."Written by J-Pilgrim contributor Cindy Shum
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