Note: Recently I went on a scouting trip with my friend and fellow pathfinder, Jason. We traveled from Dubai, north to Bahrain, and over to Jordan. From there we took a couple of days to visit the West Bank and Jerusalem. Here are excerpts from my journal.
March 11, 2015
Footsore from a day of exploring and my mind racing to write, we found a sign with three welcome words on it: CHRISTIAN COFFEE SHOP. The place sits in the shadow of the Tower of David, not far from Jaffa Gate. With cappuccino, carrot cake, and free Wi-Fi, it’s an oasis indeed! A good time to mix coffee with ink. . . much to write.
Left out of Amman early this morning. The Jordanian capital was not yet awake when we slipped out into open country to cross the Jordan at the Allenby Bridge. While not as miraculous as the time Joshua and the Israelites crossed here, with all the barriers, checkpoints, twists, and turns between the Jordanian and Israeli sides, I felt like the waters parted when we finally cleared the last checkpoint. Thankfully, Jason and I are living out of our backpacks these days; so we only had ourselves to keep up with. The Allenby Bridge is low and unimpressive—and today the Jordan is low and unimpressive, too. It’s little more than a creek.
Connected with our driver and headed through the Judean hill country, which is greening under the breath of spring. Seeing Jericho, the Dead Sea, and signs for Hebron and Bethel, I felt like we were driving through a Bible encyclopedia. Everything is so close here.
Went on to the Mount of Olives. A flood of scenes came to mind on this holy ground as I read aloud Luke’s account of the triumphal entry and triumphal ascension, which both began here—and between them there was Gethsemane’s dark night, where prayers and tears, blood and betrayal mingled. How much He suffered to save me! As the hymn says,
The thorns in my path are not sharper
Than composed His crown for me.
The cup that I drink not more bitter
Than He drank in Gethsemane.
Despite the gaggle of tour groups and the churches and chapels staking their claims along the face of the Mount of Olives, seeing the Kidron Valley with Jerusalem atop Mount Moriah was a dream come true. There on that ridge, before there was any city here, Abraham offered his son, but God provided a substitute. And here too, centuries later, God offered His Son—and He was the substitute! This little ridge, this chosen place, is the greatest mountain in the world—not Everest, McKinley, or Kilimanjaro—for as Isaiah said, “And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever” (25:7).
So with joy I walked on and entered the Dung Gate to pray at the remnant of the temple, the Wailing Wall. Access to the sacred wall is divided between men and women, and all men must have their heads covered to enter their courtyard. Little caps, yarmulke, were provided for those like me who were unprepared. And so I joined the men in praying—not with lamentations like the Jews around me, but with praise to the crucified, risen, returning King. His promise that the Gospel would go first here in Jerusalem and then “to the end the earth” is still unfolding. Unstoppable. Lord Jesus, be magnified more and more until the whole earth is filled with Your glory. May millions more proclaim, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation”! (Isaiah 25:9).