that was real.israel.

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I can’t believe that I have been home for two weeks since my semester in Israel. Just missed the record amount of snowfall in Israel in a LOOOONG time-bummer. I am actually really thankful as I was not prepared for snow at all! As a sweet friend of mine told me, “it’s like you are recalibrating.” And it is really how I feel! It has been a weird adjustment from the crazy Ibex life where every day is planned to resting up and getting ready for this Christmas season and next semester.
I am ever so thankful for this past semester not just for the time and lessons learned in the classroom but also the things that I learned outside the classroom- in the country my God chose to send His Son to live and die for me. Something that I absolutely love is that the God that I serve isn’t some higher being that a person thought of some time ago-but He is real. My God is the same as in the time of Daniel, Jonah, David, and Moses. And 3 verses that I think of is Deuteronomy 8:17-19, “’Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.” Remember. An aspect that doesn’t just constrain to remembering just the faithfulness of God in my own life, but also seeing the faithfulness of my God in the lives of His children in the wilderness where they wandered and were provided with food until they were full and their clothes didn’t wear out! Even in my life there are moments that I don’t understand what God is doing, as my life might look foggy and confusing,, yet looking and remembering at the faithfulness of my God in times past, I know that He will continue to be faithful and lead me in the way that He wants me to go. I never understood how much prayer this trust in my God would ever take until this semester- a constant taking to the Lord my desires and holding them with an open hand knowing that God will lead.
A big lesson that I have learned and realized this semester is that I am not to live my life one event to the next. So often I like to think that I have a set timeline-just like everyone else in life. Like a checklist for life. I graduated from high school. I’m getting a degree. Then graduate from college. Get a job. Get married. Have 4 kids. They grow up. They have kids. I have grandkids. Then I’ve made it? If this is the way I live my life, how am I ever going to be content and trusting in the Lord and enjoy the precious moments God gives each day? I think I know everything that is going to happen in my life-living one event to the next in my “checklist” for life. Reality check: I don’t know what God’s got in store for my life. All I know is what is going on right now in front of me, therefore instead of worrying about the next phase of life and being anxious, I need to glorify God in this moment and enjoy Him and the gifts that He has brought into my life right now. And that kind of sounds flippant, to live in the here and now, but if I live always itching for the next thing, I am not glorifying God for the gift that He has right in front of me. So I’ve been learning to slow down and enjoy what is going on in relationships right in front of me with friends and family and seek to glorify and honor the Lord through them. Live in the moment with an eternal perspective.
And I’d just like to say, that a big misconception about life, especially in Christian circles, at least one that I’ve come to realize in my life personally-especially being a home ec major- is that my life doesn’t begin the day I get married. My life began the day I came out of the womb on February 4, 1993. So I don’t need to wait around and sing the song in the ever-loved movie Tangled, “when does my life begin” because it began almost 21 years ago, therefore-get going! And it is a freeing thing that I have realized that in my life that I’m living, I am to be living for the glory of God, not some event that might not even happen. All I know that is happening in my life is what the Lord sets before me each day He graces me with. Do I want to get married? Sure! But it’s not what I should be seeking and the sole purpose of my life. My sole purpose of life is to give God the glory! Romans 11:36-12:2!!
Something that I am loving right now, especially it being the Christmas season are the misconceptions that I always had about the birth of Christ have been demolished since living in Israel and being under the teaching of Bill and Benj. (something that I love about this semester is that these teachers have their doctorates, yet want us to call them by their first names-as they are personable and have the utmost respect from us students as they are so knowledgeable yet not arrogant.) Misconceptions like the fact that there was no innkeeper ever mentioned in the gospels as depicted in all the children’s books and coloring pages. “Inn” is a mistranslation as it should actually be translated to mean “guesthouse”. And I think it makes sense as in Luke 2: 6, “While they were there (Bethlehem), the time came for the baby to be born.” This to mean that while they were in Bethlehem for the census came the time for her to give birth to her Son-Jesus. She wasn’t coming in late on a donkey having terrible birth pangs-she was already in Bethlehem-the fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah 5:2. And this verse in Luke 2:6 continues in verse 7, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” And I love the NIV as it says guest room!
Plus I love that I can look at the pictures and remember the time we went to Nazareth where the angel appeared to Mary and told her that she was going to give birth to the greatest thing that this world would ever see-Jesus. Savior of the World. Oh how the Lord used the lowly from an unknown town to bring this gift to this dead and dying world. And then to envision the little town of Bethlehem. And that I stood in some fields where the shepherds might have been as they were visited by the angels. Such a surreal moment. Yet, I can say-I’ve been there. AH! I love it! I am just coming to grips with these realities, and I am encouraged as a friend who went to ibex years ago told me just the other day that she is still coming to grips with the things she saw and did in Israel.
I can’t express enough how thankful I am that I got this opportunity to have this experience in Israel. Thankful for the friendships that were made and sights that were seen. I am ever so thankful for the friends, like Beatrice, my sweet roommate- who were willing to preach the gospel to me in my moments of weakness or even hear me share the gospel with myself. Yes, there were moments that I was homesick. And there were moments where I didn’t always know who I could talk to about things I was struggling with, yet through these struggles, I was able to understand so much better the approachability of my God and how sweet that intimate relationship with Christ really is. Never have I been so far away from home or my church family, but it was so good to get away and realize that there is a need of relationships with people, yet how much more important the dear and intimate personal relationship with Christ is-the dependence on the Lord that I can’t even express-it can only be experienced-because of its awesomeness.
Thank you for reading my blog and praying for me this semester abroad! I really appreciate the love from around the world. I praise God for the body of Christ in America, Brazil, Israel, Italy-Our God is awesome and doing His amazing work around the world! Can’t wait to see what God’s got in store next!
Shalom and Love,
Jenna

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One thought on “that was real.israel.

  1. Wonderful words Miss Jenna. It is encouraging to hear of how you are trusting God and are content. What testimony you are! Thank YOU.

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