Saturday, March 7, 2009

Holy Places

Roman Market Ruins, Old City, Jerusalem

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.

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).

It’s not the physical places which matter, it’s what happens there.

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?

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Tami Boesiger said...

Do such landmarks exist only in Israel? Have you and I no holy places?

Lord, make me aware of my holy places.

Very soothing post, Betsy.

karin said...

That was very well put! I've been to Israel and there were several places where I had a huge, overwhelming sense of sadness that 'Jesus doesn't live here any more.' I have had many personal experiences mostly with people where I have 'known' and 'felt' that this was a holy moment. I don't want to venerate the place in any way, but when I think of that place, the people, the time I am filled with such gratitude for such a wonderful gift to me.

Laurie M. said...

What a fantastic post! Our lives are full of holy places. What a comfort to those of us too poor to ever hope for a trip to Israel.

I just visited one of my places two days ago. I took my husband to see it for the first time. It's a hillside where we could watch a big storm cross the valley and see the distant lightening. But it is much more to me. It's the place I used to drive to, first to cry, then to plead with God, then to pray, after my ex-husband left me. It's where I began to take my Bible to read, when my own house screamed silently for lack of a husband and I couldn't take the sound any longer.

It had been almost three years since I'd been there - but I felt the sacredness of the place. It stands as a memorial of all God has brought me through.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Conviction, friend, conviction via your a very specific area! I want my home to be a sacred place/moments of remembrance for my children, especially at their bedsides.

I often think since two are nearly gone, the other two will follow accordingly. They deserve more from me...of that i am sure.


Ed said...

Thank you Betsy for reminding me of the truth stated in 2 Cor. 4:18: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Mary Moss said...

Wow! This is spectacular! I have been having a greater awareness lately of the sacred places in my life. This is a beautiful reminder to all of us.

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