Image by David Masters via Flickr
I’ve never been to Israel, but I’ve been to the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-9). You see, I was crippled once, with no way to help myself, and no one to help me. The Master touched me and made me walk.
I’ve never been to Israel, but I’ve sat on the Galilean hills. I’ve listened to the Master, wondered at His words, felt their conviction and power pierce my heart.
I’ve never been to Israel, but I’ve been to the well of Sychar (John 4:5-26). I’ve been a woman full of sin and shame, trying yet once more to draw life-giving water out of the ground…out of the same dust that I’m made of. Thirst kept bringing me back, because it could never be fully quenched. And that’s where I was when I met the One who told me everything I ever did, and yet loved me.
I’ve never been to Israel, but I’ve been to Golgotha (Matt. 27:33-35). I have seen the Savior dying for me. I have felt the earth quake, seen the sun darken as all of creation convulsed with the horror of what happened there for me.
I was there, because I died with Him (Gal. 2:20)
I’ve never been to Israel, but I know Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (Matt. 27:57-60). I was buried there with Jesus, and rose with Him (Rom. 6:4-5).
The Pool of Bethesda was just one of several such pools. The hills of Galilee probably differ little from the hills at the edge of my own city. The well of Sychar was nothing special…just the local watering hole. Golgotha was probably never expected to be a famous place for all of eternity. And when Joseph of Arimathea dug a grave out of the rock, he never dreamed it would be used for anything other than the corpses of his own family and himself.
It takes a backwards look through time to see these ordinary places as landmarks.
Do such landmarks exist only in Israel? Have you and I no holy places?
What will we see when we look back from Heaven, as God shows us our history from His perspective…when He pulls back the curtains of obscurity that shrouded our mortal lives? Will we gasp to see our humble kitchens touched with the finger of glory, because Jesus worked through us there? Will we realize with awe that the spot where we knelt by our beds every night is as precious in the eyes of God as Sychar’s well, because the Spirit of Jesus interceded for us there? Will the chair where we read the Bible to our children hold the same glow as Galilee’s Sermon Mount, because Jesus Himself spoke to our children as we read? Will we find endless holy places that we walked through unknowingly, even carelessly…holy not because of the places themselves, but because God was there, touching and guiding and disciplining and healing and comforting and refining?
As we look back from Heaven’s perspective, I have no doubt that the holy place we will see most often will be our own versions of Bethel, where “the Lord was in this place, and we did not know it!” (Gen. 28:16-19)
How different would our lives have been if we had known it?
How different will our lives be from now on if we believe it?