I have a confession to make.. While I was in Israel, I sent out blog posts that seemed like all was well for me as I traveled through the land. But such was not entirely the case, having been faced with what seemed like potential, albeit temporary, homelessness more than once, and finding myself having to provide for my own food at times where I don’t really effectively speak or read the language with any real comprehension of what’s being said, and having to take buses and trains with the challenge of finding the right one and not sure when to get off, and not knowing what it would look like when I got there. Those are only a few of what I had to deal while there. I am not a city lover and parts of Tel Aviv where I had to spend time to do what I came for reminded me of parts of New York city I'd rather not be in. Not that I was in danger at that time, it just felt so unfamiliar and I had to walk through it often alone to find food, or at times just finding where I was supposed to be. Despite having been in the land at least eight times in the last number of years, I was not experiencing my usual abounding love for and delight in just being in Israel. I felt stressed and anxious a good bit of the time even when I was safe in the home of dear rescuing friends or with my precious granddaughter. I just kept it to myself.
When I got home though, the stress came home with me, which I hadn’t expected. It felt awful. So, I went to the Lord and asked Him why I had been so vulnerable and was still feeling so anxious. His answer came immediately: “Because your arsenal was insufficient.” I didn’t know what He meant so I asked Him and again His answer came immediately: “You were going by your feelings instead of My Word. There is no truth in your feelings. Truth is only found in My Word.” Oh! He was right, of course. When is He not? I then realized that what I did not do was go immediately and completely to what I know to be truth, The Word! Instead, I was trying to manage my fear. Oh yes, I told Him that I trusted Him, and I had recited a few Scriptures to myself, of course, but they had no staying power to bring me true confidence that all would be well and that the Lord was watching over me and would provide for my needs. I know verses, but I now realized that didn’t have a grip on the Word in order to whether the unfamiliar storm I was in.
This experience has served three valuable purposes:
1) It caused me to realize that though I know a lot of Scripture – after all, I’m a teacher of the word -- but when push came to shove (picture those last 5 words), they weren’t so imbedded into my sense of reality so that in a crisis, I didn’t take authority over it in complete faith in God as I should have. I would not have thought I’d be so vulnerable, but there it was. It’s not that I doubted God, I don’t doubt Him, but that I got stuck on trying to ‘manage my anxiety’ rather than focusing on His promises. In retrospect, I was evidently under a nasty attack, likely having to do with the reason I was in Israel to begin with (more on that at another time), but it felt like my weakness, not what was coming from the ‘other team.’
Consequently, I am now seeking for God’s Word, verse by verse, to be deeper in my heart so that it is my only reality in any given situation. It should be a life-long goal anyway, right? If you had asked me if I believed the Word was the only truth, I would say, of course it is. But meditating not just on the words, but the Lord "in" the Word, "as" the Word, pondering that, picturing it so that it is more real to me than any situation might appear to be, is now a deeper quest and necessity than it had been previously.
2) The Bible tells us “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to mankind, but God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but He will provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). There are times when we can be significantly tempted to be fearful. I hadn't thought of fear as a temptation before, but considering where it comes from, it being the opposite of faith, it seems pretty clear, doesn't it? So the antidote to such a temptation is faith - in God and His Word!
3) At times the Father will allow some of us to go through things for the benefit and betterment of others as well as ourselves. This appears to be one of those times. As people asked me how my trip to Israel was, assuming I would have wonderful and glorious experiences to share with them, I told some folks what I just shared with you about my experience and almost to a person they were each convicted of a similar sense of their own arsenal being insufficient should challenging times come. So, sensing that this whole episode was likely one of those in which it was God’s warning, not just to me, but to perhaps some of you reading this blog for whom this issue might resonate, here I am, being all transparent about my own weakness with the hope that it might be a wake-up warning from the Lord that we would all do well to consider Scripture as our needed and adequate arsenal should unusual or previously unexperienced times come our way. Selah.
Love and blessings,