Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Benefit of Pain

Tomorrow I am speaking about the benefits of pain and I remembered this great post from my wife that relates well to my thoughts. One of the main points I will discuss is the fact that pain and trials in life bring things into focus. I think the following reflections from my wife during our last days living in Jerusalem are worth a re-post so here you are:

A Walk To Remember

Today Ryan got home in the late afternoon and did a "boy's night" and let me loose to walk the city of Jerusalem one last time. I grabbed my ipod and my purse (hey you never know) and headed out to retrace a route that has become as familiar to me as hometown would be. I walked out of our apartment, down the steps and onto Gidon. I crossed over the train tracks and turned on Emek Refaim. Emek is a chic shopping street in the high end "German Colony" of Jerusalem. It is fun to people watch here- especially on the eve of Shabbat when everyone is racing to pick up their last minute challah from the bakery, good wine from the wine shop, and fresh bouquets for the table. Tonight the cafes were full of patrons eating kosher salads and drinking cappucinos and turkish coffee. Plenty of window shoppers walked the pavement and at this time, the breeze was still warm. I walked down to where Emek meets Derek Bet Lehem and King David Street and turned up King David. I did a quick detour into the (this is original) King David Hotel just to say that I had been inside the building where most US presidents and many world dignitaries have resided over the years. Then I turned down towards the old city - down a hill, then up again. Through a little concrete valley made up of fountains and steps, which ultimately leads to the base of the Jaffa gate entrance to the Old City.

Because it was "Sara night," instead of going through the gate at my right, I headed left, into the newly constructed, modern (and very Irvine Spectrum, California-like) outdoor mall. I gleefully walked from store to store thrilled to be sans children. As I exited the mall, up a steep staircase, I saw the Jaffa gate ahead of me and made a conscious decision not to head into the city tonight. We had been to the city as a family two days prior to say our goodbyes to the vendors we have befriended, and to say our goodbyes to the sights and smells that we have truly grown to love. I turned to walk away and was a little surprised to feel (gasp!) not a tear, but rather a pang. That little ache in my heart caught me off guard. At this point I also realized a song by David Crowder had come into my ear through my ipod earphones. The words "Take my heart, I lay it down At the feet of You who's crowned" are playing while I start to have a little panic attack. We are actually leaving! I cant go for a run and end up at the rock of Golgotha anymore.... I walk towards a cross walk and the "walking green man" immediately replaces the red one signaling me to walk and I think... but I want to stop! I dont know if I am ready to say goodbye... Meanwhile David is singing "Take my life Letting go I lift it up to You who's throned..."

I walk through my favorite park and at this point the sun is beginning to drop low in the sky. The golden hue of the evening sun is gathering in little pools of light under the olive trees. I start to walk up the stairs again, past the fountain, up towards my "thinking spot" under the bouganvilla, and I turn back to glance again at the old city. There is still so much we haven't done in Israel, I think. Ryan and I never came to this park just the two of us, to watch the sun set over Mt. Zion and the road to the Mt. of Olives. We could still get one more meal of our favorite arab salads and grilled meats. We could still spend more time in the West Bank with the orphans there, or in the refugee camps. I wont be getting good Israeli coffee with my favorite Jewish friend again to discuss theology and matters of the heart.
"Take my fret, take my fear All I have I'm leaving here Be all my hopes, be all my dreams You're my delights Be my everything (I have also during this walk put David Crowder on repeat mode...I figure the song is the perfect way to just swim in my emotional outpouring)."

David faithfully (he cannot say no to the ipod repeat button) croons out to God "And I will worship You, Lord Only You, Lord And I will, I will bow down before You Only You, Lord." And I actually laugh. Not because I think that worship of God is funny, but because I realize that God has done a funny thing in me this year. You see, there is this movie that I love called "A walk to Remember" about a pastors daughter and a "bad boy rebel cool kid." In the movie you figure the two will get together, but you think that eventually the girl will start to at least dress a little cuter or start acting a little "cooler" but she never does. The "cool kid" does fall in love with her and it is because he is changed by her inward qualities and I believe God in her.

Jerusalem has most definitely not changed this year but somehow Ihave. I have genuinely come to love Israel, and not because of its outward appeal. I love Israel because GOD HAS BEEN HERE with us this the same way that He was with us in California, the same way that He will be with us wherever we are. I have cried out to God many times on the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem and He has answered me and embraced me. Despite the constant struggles (which I might add I have not been shy to blog about), God has faithfully, and lovingly kept my head up - even if barely enough...

I walk past the lion fountain and praise God for this year. I genuinely (yes, genuinely!) thank Him for our time here. I am excited because I know that He will be with us even next year as we enter into newer (and I think scarier) ventures in life. I can be moved to tears by the living, pulsing heart of God in Jerusalem. It's okay because it beats in California as well. And all the world! And my heart skips a beat as I walk through a crowd of some out of town, camera toting tourists, elegantly dressed muslim women with their children, a young Jewish couple with heads bent towards one another, and I hear David singing in my ear a love song to God, that I too am singing at this point "And it's just You and me here now -Only You and me here now- You should see the view When it's only You."

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