I have never been to Israel. I marvel at people who can purchase airline ticket in order to fly the fourteen hours or so (from the Pacific Northwest) to this place. We struggle paying the electric bill. My wife and I don't use credit cards therefore going anywhere on credit is not part of our world. We have never had passports!
When I was running my company or managing the companies of others (prior to and after drug abuse) I was too busy either trying to be a dad or rebuilding my family. The recovery from drug abuse is rarely financial. Especially for people like me who do not place a huge value on money! Going anywhere, with six people (four kids) while developing a start up was not possible! Rebuilding character both within my family and outside of our home life was paramount to me during those years. Traveling to Israel was not a part of my psyche.
In my off time I studied about Theodore Herzl discovering who he was, why he was, and what he accomplished. I learned about Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his commitment to restoring the Hebrew language. I began to learn about those who returned to the land of Israel from David Ben Gurion to Moshe Dyan, to Golda Meir A rag-tag group of socialists who survived the lions den, if you will.
Here in lies the contradiction. My Biblical understanding use to be rooted in a Christian narrative which says that when you live according to Christ all blessings flow?
Israel has never lived according to Christ. The people, the land and the manner by which Israel has flourished is not according to Christ. The gay-day parades, criminal activity, and Godlessness of much of Israel (according to what I study) is not reason enough to ignore the prosperity, Nobel prizes, scientific, academic and societal achievements. The very land of Israel is alive. Mark Twain would be dumbstruck after making his observation many years ago concerning Israel when he wrote:
"A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly
to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a
human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even
the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil,
had almost deserted the country."
The military victories speak for themselves. Actually, these victories are impossibilities, improbabilities and yet I am writing about them? How has Israel survived, replenished the land and become the most incredible study of humanity for 3800 years thus far? I am also beginning to see the history of Israel as a case study in Jurisprudence...Studying Israel is like peeling an onion; layers and layers of one thing!
Israel is the reason I started looking beyond my Christian concepts. The very rebirth of this nation which practices sin just like all of the rest of humanity has a history unlike any nation in the world. Why is that? I have never wanted to go to Israel to see iconic structures related to my Christian faith. This has never been part of my conscious. To me I have always equated this to going to the zoo, go figure! I have said many times that I wanted to go so that I could see the people who endure hell on earth. Meet with them, not in a sort of sympathetic, empathetic, you poor, poor people from a patronizing mediocrity! No way, I have wanted to go because touching their history for me is worthy of everything. I want to see living history and the people walking through it. I want to eat, drink and celebrate with this nation. I want to return home with memories of those who LIVE surrounded by hatred, death and insanity!
I don't agree with religion at all but I do love people. I believe the God of Israel does too. I believe that the contradiction of Israel is in our eyes alone.....God is up to something entirely different with this land, these people. For me, the contradiction is not a focus but rather truth unfolding. This is my fascination!.
The church that introduced me to God, failed to teach me about his people...so, I had to go learn for myself. In the beginning of all of this some thirty years and counting, I had no idea that learning about Israel never stops. Perhaps one day I will make that trip. Until then, I have a lot to learn, to witness, and much to celebrate. Following the story of Israel keeps confirming, expanding and guiding my understanding of God.
Currently, I am watching the world's insanity almost as if I am looking at Israel while the back ground is out of focus. Does anyone else understand this? As a result of all of this I live with joy, expectation. Sadly, I realize that very few people understand that.