Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …
I was very naive when we made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), and so it surprised me how incredibly many things were different from what I was used to. The small and intricate, basic workings of simple tasks were different, and one that had struck my culture-shocked self right away as unnecessary was the fact that I had been spoiled by the ease with which western medicine was distributed. Of course, there we would receive a huge bill, where as here it is considered a right.
However, it didn’t make sense to me that when I was feeling so ill, first I would have to go to the doctor. Next, I would have to travel in the other direction to the lab. Then back across town the other way to do an x-ray. “Why couldn’t it all be neatly in the same building?” I complained. Thankfully, I now both understand our system and why it is this way, AND have accepted the grace of the light yoke to not complain about these very small inconveniences.
So, this week, although it was physically necessary to take a taxi several times due to lack of any strength, when I could take the bus and train, I did, I noticed something. Some of you who have read these letters over the years may remember me speaking about the ways of mentally handicapped people on the buses. Mentally handicapped (and otherwise handicapped) people are treated very differently here then in my past experience. They are mainstreamed (even in the army where possible) and, rather then people looking at them with any measure of pity or embarrassment, they are sort of everyone’s children.
Anyway, I won’t repeat some of the poignant stories right now, but as I got on the bus, a rather raucous man sitting behind the bus driver was bouncing up and down in his seat and saying, “No more news! Get some nice music on the radio! No more news!”
I smiled as the driver reached up to his radio, smiling in the mirror at the man of about 40 with somewhat exaggerated and unkempt features, continued to direct him and bounce up and down in his seat. “Turn it to GLAGALITZ (army radio)! Oh, there you go. That’s nice music! I don’t want anymore news!” He had picked some quiet music and the driver turned it up loudly for him. He turned around to smile at everyone in the bus and everyone smiled back at him and assured him that he had chosen very nice music indeed.
Since I had missed a week of work already by this time I had a fresh eye for remembering the specialness of these moments, and it occurred to me: I DON’T SEE THESE PEOPLE ON THE TRAIN. Very rarely do I ever see them there and it hit me: on the train, there is nothing personal and no driver. Unless they ride with the same people every morning, who will tell them when to get off or take them home if they forget their stop? On my way to work there is a regular crowd of about 10 or so people who seem to work at the same sheltered job, and I enjoy watching the daily care and interchange.
Continuing on my way to the lab, I was thankful that it is right near the shuk, as our food supply had run low while I lay in bed. I got off in front of the bakery where I planned to buy bread. Those of you who have been here have all commented about how blessed we are to have such an abundance of great bakeries, and you are right. I recently found a tiny place that sells excellent home made 100% rye bread, straight from their stone oven, so I thought I would stop by as it was along my path. I looked toward it and there was a line in front as the owner was JUST pulling up his metal covering (not a door…just seals off his space).
This seemed odd to me as it was already after 9:30 and they are usually open around 6 or 7am. I joined the elderly crowd, mostly Russian, and I propped my weak body against the counter listening to the colorful conversation. As I did I had some time to observe this very unique bakery and to be there in time to witness a rare treat. This bakery is a Bokhara bakery. Now here we open a fascinating chapter because there is a Bokhara neighborhood in Jerusalem – a wonderfully mysterious old neighborhood. A very mysterious, colorful history, but I am speaking about the bakery now and if you want to glimpse a bit take a look at here or here.
But back to the tiny bakery which consists of a kiln oven in the wall, a Persian Uzbekistani painting on the rest of the wall, and perhaps a 5 feet long counter and a table. The whole space is probably 5 feet by 10 feet. As I watched, the man cracked open the oven and I looked inside at a rounded clay oven perhaps 5 feet high, 4 feet wide and 8 feet deep. Wood fueled flames licked up the sides between clay bricks, and the man threw cup after cup of water into the oven, on to the breads as well, all around putting out the fire and sending up clouds of steam. I saw my rye breads between bricks (no pans needed, the bricks are the pans) but before he deftly pulled them out with towels, he got a long wooden pallet as I had seen used in other stone ovens and the pita ovens, and, and he scooped the unusually shaped breads from all across the walls and ceiling, where the dough had been placed the night before. He put my hot rye bread in a bag and I handed him my 10 shekels, well spent. Come and visit and I will take you to this shop. Even as I was in pain and weak, I was thankful to have caught such a moment.
You know, the Lord is just so incredibly GOOD. I was lying there in a great deal of pain and there was temptation to be discouraged. Yes, I gave in and had a pity party for awhile and then repented, but some of the things that I remembered and thanked Him for were rare moments that I have had that He made to delight my heart.
I know that you have had them too, and sometimes, we miss them, so perhaps it’s good to be reminded to look for them. I have always loved animals and He has spoken to me much through His creation. Over the years He has allowed me to watch the rare entry into the bay of a pod of killer whales on the hunt, to have a bald eagle hover by my window just a few feet from my face, to watch Alaska grizzly brown bears up close as they scavenged and played in our local dump, to pet a totally startled wild hyena, which I mistook for a strange looking huge dog while walking to work at dawn on a cloudy morning, to watch herds of elk and caribou up close and mountain rams fight on a mountain top, to live under the northern lights, to have a pony and ducks and run with wild dogs in the hills, and well, the list went on. I was soon weeping with thanksgiving, that a God, MY GOD, Who knows me so intimately, cared enough to bless me with all of these- well hundreds of spontaneous blessings − small details that He KNEW would delight my particular heart.
And now I can add watching Bokhara bread appear from a stone oven as a token of love from God Who comforts us all along the way.
This is the very same God Who knows we need housing, and will open and provide the way and the same God Who knows of your most secret need.
I have also been hearing the rumblings of planes as I lay at home sleepless. Several nights ago the planes continued to fly overhead for at least 10 minutes without stopping. They are preparedness flights, not the real thing. There has been much scoffing at our Prime Minister’s insistence to stand firm concerning Persia. He’s been called a paranoid warmonger and told that the world is tired of hearing him. Our Knesset just opened the winter session and I listened to the opening speeches. The opposition leader (Shelly Yakamovich of Labor for those who follow) mocked him and repeated the worldview to his face. “You have isolated us! We are just a small country and you are making us the fools in the eyes of the world. Everyone else is wrong, and only WE are right,” she mocked him.
I have caught just a glimpse of understanding the heart of God concerning COVENANT. It is not hard to understand, but WE BREAK THEM ALL THE TIME. HIS idea of Covenant is so far above my understanding that I can only bow to it. I have read through my Bible for the past few years with a notebook, particularly for making note of every promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the inheritance of their descendants to the land of Israel. I knew there were many, but I just didn’t expect to fill a notebook with promises.
My ray of light came during one reading of Gen 24:3-6. This is where Abraham has his servant put his hand under his master’s thigh and swear to find a wife for Isaac among his own people, the descendants of Shem (Noah’s son) and NOT to have him marry a wife from the people of the land of promise, namely from the Canaanites the sons of Noah’s son Ham. This was the son whom Noah cursed (Gen 9:25) Ishmael (AND Esau, by the way) took wives of the sons of Ham. GOD had chosen a seed and the enemy will do everything to rob that seed. GOD had a plan. The enemy had a plan. God still has a plan to work out and so does His (and our) enemy, and the challenge for me is STILL to always take His side and His view and His path, no matter HOW wrong it looks in the sight of the world.
Lord knows I could never do that on my own as the enemy would be oh so quick and happy to take advantage of my imaginative and sometimes extreme fleshly nature. God forbid that I would formulate opinions without the guidance of The Holy Spirit in these deceptive times. HOWEVER, JACOB, WHO HAD HIS PROMISES AND HIS COVENANT, LOOKED WITH HIS FLESH for the expected results when his sons stood up, not in a very compassionate manner, for the Covenant and plan of God.
And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
But that was NOT the result.
And guess what? That is just what the opposition is saying to Netanyahu. This is what the world is saying to Netanyahu. This is what Netanyahu has to stand against. We know that he believes the Old Testament (the Tenach and the Prophets) and studies it both alone, with Knesset members, family members and receives many believers (local and foreign) and values their advice as well. We continue to pray for Him to come through to receiving Messiah. But I’m seeing the responsibility that this man has to take that COVENANT before God and find out how to STAND in opposition to the entire world – mockery from within and without. May we see clearly to stand also with God’s Word by His Spirit.
Until next time, I send much love,