Shelley’s thoughts - from home
For 11 incredible days I was able to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the beautiful country of Israel. As many peers stayed home to enjoy their seminary study break or catch up on reading and papers, I was privileged to be a part of the Sacred Journey Tour, organized by Tyndale Allumni Office. While I was not yet an alumni, (God willing I will be in May) I was the youngest one of 34 fellow pilgrims. I was not sure what would await me in this land with thousands of years of history behind it. I did not have any expectations except the hope that it would not only inform my mind and help me better understand the scriptures but transform my heart.
The journey captured me in so many ways I don’t know where to start. How do you describe the feeling of spending time in the Garden of Gethsemane, wading in the waters where Jesus fed 5000 men and their families, sailing on the Sea of Galilee, standing on the mount of Beatitudes, touching a wall that is the closest place Jews can come to be in Gods presence, walking the path that Jesus walked to his crucifixion and ending your last day in the garden where his body was laid, sharing in communion with your fellow pilgrims-rejoicing that that he is no longer there but risen and living today in the hearts of his followers? All I can say is that you need to GO and become a fellow pilgrim yourself.
As a seminary student, taking a break from the academic walls of the classroom, taking what I already knew, adding to it and being changed by it, will no doubt inform my understanding on so many new levels. Upon my return I was asked why and what prompted me to go? My first response was “why not”? Why would I wait till I’m older or retired to visit a place I have spent years learning about and so central to my faith? After 4 years of Bible College and 2 years of Seminary I was ready to leave the four walls of the classroom see what I was learning about up close and personal. I’m visual and experiential learner. I like to see, touch, hear, and feel things in real life, to experience it first hand. To learn in the classroom is one thing, to touch the wailing wall, to see the mount of olives, to sit in the garden of Gethsemane, to walk the path Jesus walked to his trial and crucifixion brings it to life and makes it very real.
This journey has breathed new life into my studies. Reading scripture will not be the same. I now want to go back and re-read my history notes from Dr. Kydds class and experience the academic pursuit with a new kind of lens.
I walked away from this sacred journey with a chunk of my heart left in Israel. Never have I had a burden for a country and its people as I do now. Never have I longed for the gospel message to be known. I was made aware of how easy it is to have all the head knowledge of a faith but not make its way to ones heart. Our tour guide a Zionist Jew with a degree in history and archeology, chose to study the New Testament when in school and often would read from the gospels.
I arrived back late on Saturday night and went to church the following Sunday, communion Sunday. My thoughts swarmed my head and my whole body as I held the bread and the cup. Communion was not the same for me. It has taken on a whole different dimension that I am still trying to unpack and process. Maybe being in the place where Jesus was, walking where he walked, worshiping where he taught brings me just a little bit closer to the heart of God.
The Tyndale Alumni journey has come full circle and we are all back home. Our prayer is that we will carry in us the changes that Christ has wrought during this sacred journey. Rob