Shalom dear sisters and brothers, from your sis in Jerusalem. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my God and my Redeemer and may I be a blessing to You and to Your children.
Sometimes we just need to “do the next thing “when the going is rough and the way seems dark.
I was reminded in my heart of what He said to me: “What you see…write.” And so I am. I pray that it will draw us all to Him.
“Celery Ameracano! ”
American celery? What was he TALKING about? The question had been, “Mah zey?” (what is that) in the snip of conversation that I heard as I ran through the shuk doing my chores while remaining alert for possible knife wielding neighbors along my path. But this arrested my attention and I stopped.
What in the world was American celery? I wondered to myself.
There it was, wrapped in a plastic bag (ours is loose…no bags) and neatly chopped down to just the stalk with no leaves. Yep, I remember that.
“What IS it?” the lady continued to ask. “I mean…there are no LEAVES. What do they do with THIS part? The root is good and the leaves are wonderful, but THIS? The STALK? It’s not good for anything!”
I chuckled and picked one up already KNOWING that I was about to pay way too much, but I couldn’t resist. After all, it was washed and CLEAN. No mud on every stalk, which is a novelty for us. True, it did look naked and bland when compared to the rugged celery tree that I usually bring home.
Actually, when we first moved to Jerusalem, celery was a rare find at all. The stalks were generally scrawny and pencil thin since it was grown for the leaves and roots. Now, at least, we do get larger ones. I smiled to myself.
Cultural differences are fascinating with our intricate differences. How they cook and eat, how they dress and play, how they communicate, the list is nearly infinite I guess.
It was very hard, immigrating here and being absorbed into Israel. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t. We didn’t come as tourists more than 21 years ago, but as older (nearly 50 at the time) olim (immigrants). Our first experiences were not pretty or painless. We were pruned down to our trunks!
Although I have come to the conclusion that in many ways we will always bare the marks of olim (immigrants), this celery incident gave me pause to worship and thank God Who has enabled me to come this far. I thought of simply being able to UNDERSTAND a snatch of conversation while flying past in the midst of chores, and of the fact that we HAVE adapted to the culture in so many ways.
HE is the living river that waters us, wherever we are placed by Him, even if we feel dry, stretched out of shape, and pressed into a small container. Yet He is faithful, and His purposes WILL be accomplished.
Life continues on here despite the nearly daily attacks.
The capture of the terrorist who killed two in an ISIS-style attack in the middle of Tel Aviv last week encouraged the country. Somehow, our nation was uncharacteristically on edge after the terrorist escaped. Tel Aviv, unlike Jerusalem, is not used to attacks. Sadly, it is THE liberal “sin city” in our midst. Tel Aviv never sleeps and prides itself in accepting almost anything.
Arabs and Jews mix freely there, socially as well as at work. So, they don’t expect attacks. It shook them. Immediately the gunman’s family and village renounced the attack and stood as if they were all loyal citizens, horrified along with everyone else. It grieved me terribly that he was found back in his village, well provided for and hidden.
But as I said about the celery: cultures are interesting.
Whereas everyone was RELIEVED when he was caught, there was no rejoicing at his death. No candy and sweets were given out, no honking of horns in the streets and shooting in the air.
Those are the things that took place in the Gaza strip and many places in Judea and Samaria under Palestinian control when the original attack took place.
Israel does not celebrate death.
Personally, it has been a difficult time for me. The death of my friend, a beloved sister in Him, has caused me to look closely at some things. In fact, many things. I will not write about this now, but I do ask for your prayers. I DO NOT question God or His decision and that is NOT my struggle. So, please pray for me. I will hopefully share when it is time.
Five days from today on the 15th of Jan, Lord willing, I will be 41 years old in HIM and I PRAISE HIM FOR HIS MERCY AND GRACE.
Our weather has been cold and the rains have been INTENSE when they come. Like everywhere else in the world, the changing weather patterns are wake-up calls and posing new challenges and life threatening dangers. And how will we respond? It has always made me weep to read in Revelation how many times God sent judgments intended to turn mankind to call out for mercy and instead it is written in Rev 16:8 (and other places) “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”
I guess that this is really at the heart of my internal wrestling right now: the question of if we – or if I – am ready, willing to respond when God REALLY moves. I USED to be (I thought) and I, for one, have been praying for true revival for some 40 years. I have seen revival because I was saved in the midst of REAL revival. I know that there IS A PRICE.
THERE IS NO MORE LIVING LIFE AS I AM USED TO.
And the deep sifting of motives and responses is a fire that burns in me. When God TRULY MEETS WITH US in the way that many of us are asking for – we will need to give ALL! To whom much is given, much is required. As I prayed for my dear friend, knowing that it would take a miracle for her to continue to live or to be raised from the dead (yes, that seemed a real option), I felt confronted by the COST of such a miracle in today’s complacent life.
HOW (you might rightfully ask) COULD YOU POSSIBLY CONSIDER LIFE IN JERUSALEM AT THIS JUNCTURE COMPLACENT? A valid question, but even war and strife can become “the way it is” and God still sifts the deep, deep motives of the heart. That is what I was confronted with as I prayed for my friend’s life. Would I still be willing to watch and pray ALL night? To fast and pray in the secret place for THAT long? Oh, yes I USED to…but what about TODAY?
I began this letter with observations, although my heart is struggling, and I will end with another. I’ve described before the shock that I had at the first funeral that I went to in Jerusalem when I understood that people are neither embalmed nor buried in a casket. But are wrapped in a shroud and placed in the ground, usually within 24 hours of passing. In our main Jerusalem cemetery there is now limited space and many are placed in stone tombs, slotted into stonewalls. I could not be at my friend’s funeral because of work, but another sister described to me the beautiful spot looking off toward the hills. She added that as my dead friend was placed in the wall tomb, she had a short vision of the Western Wall (Kotel, the last remaining wall of the temple where people go to pray and place “prayer notes” in the wall). She saw our sister “pressed into the wall” as the prayer notes are pressed in.
I thought of the words to an old Keith Greene song: “Make my life a prayer to You…I want to do what You want me to…”.
Hallelujah! A sister has passed through the gates of glory, from life into life.
God Bless you and keep you,
your sister J in Jerusalem