(“Back to Beit Lehem” | The Jordan Journey, part 4 | May 17, 2018)
Zigzagging – this is what we did on our first day on the road. “Hebrewism” – as I started calling it, trying to start feeling comfortable with this word in my mouth. Crossing over the wounded rift again and again. South to north on the Israeli side, than north to south on the Jordanian side, all the way to our first stop at the dead sea.
May 17th turned out to be one of the hottest days I have experienced in our area! When we exited the van at our first overnight location, it felt like somebody had left an oven door open. A scorching desert wind was burning our eyes as we hurried into the hotel in the territory of ancient Moab.
A leaking refrigerator in one of our rooms required us to call maintenance. After a few strangely futile attempts to fix the simple problem, we gave up and went out for dinner. Later we found out that maintenance did show up, but not in order to fix the leak. The man left us a surprise in the room.
Yes, a baby crib!
He probably had the wrong room number, and most likely left another guest with an unnecessary fixed refrigerator and a much needed crib. But the crib confirmed what God has been already forming in our spirits: that He is about to birth something in or through us, and that He is preparing the necessary space for us to nurse and nurture it.
The next morning we escaped the heat by hiding in the hotel room, planning, praying, gleaning precious truths from the Word, still figuring out the details of our mission. And weeping…
Many of our prayers and conversations were recorded. Some of them are so profound and multi-layered. I can sum it up for you in a paragraph, but than it will not carry the same weight. This journey was not about bottom lines, but about a process. And the process is what I would like to take you through, especially if you have Israel and this region on your heart. Understanding what happened to us during that short week should impact your prayers on our behalf and your stand in the gap.
Excerpts From These Recording
Rania gently asked if Naomi (meaning Israel) fears approaching God directly, if she really still needs a Ruth to do that. If there is fear and lack of trust in our national being. After all, according to Naomi’s perception, God is the one who made her life bitter (Ruth 1:13, 20). All throughout the book of Ruth there is no direct communication between her and Boaz. It is always done through Ruth. Why? What was there in Naomi’s soul concerning God? Rania also asked how do I think our relationship with God (as a nation) can be restored.
I believe that such restoration can take place only with the assistance of all kinds of Ruths, who see us through the process. Israeli Jews are so used to one of two common dynamics with Gentile believers. They either love and pamper us because of our horrific history, even to the point of worshiping us for our glorious destiny; Or they compare our wounds to those we inflict on others (especially on the Palestinians), and expect us to take the lower path and constantly repent. Both dynamics are not serving God’s purpose. They only deepen the wounded rift and make it bleed even harder.
That morning, in the hotel room, I could see a third option for the first time. In the Biblical story, Ruth is accompanying Naomi through her progressive transformation. Her identity changes from a bereaved and bitter widow to a restored woman, who can nurse and nurture the next generation (Ruth 4:16). Ruth also shows her that men can be trusted, especially men in authority.
Priscilla then asked me to connect with my own journey (remember, this trip to Jordan was not just prophetic. It was also a peak of my own healing process [see I Will Tabernacle Inside You]. I paused to look inside my heart: how do I feel about crossing over into the unknown?
I found loneliness there, a familiar yet unpleasant feeling, that has been accompanying me for many years. It has already been touched by God in many ways, and through the years lost its sharp sting, but it was still there, especially in face of the unfamiliar. I wondered if Naomi also felt lonely on her way back from Moab. Yes, she had her companion, but in her brokenness, was she waiting for Ruth to also turn her back on her? She was used to it. They all left her one way or another, right? Yes, Ruth made a fabulous declaration of faithfulness, but Naomi was still testing her. Ruth is the one who promised to cleave to Naomi. Naomi, on the other hand, made no promises.
I was crossing over back and forth, north to south and south to north inside my soul, looking for cross points where my heart echoes with the heart of my widowed nation. The team listened, enabling me to reach deep, into places I could not see and touch without trustworthy listeners around me. There were moments I knew I was talking only about myself, but there were moments when my identification with Israel was so deep, that I could feel its heart beat. The girls asked for the details of the wound, in order to understand it better and take it to the next level.
What Do You Need From Us?
“What do you need from us in order to go deeper?” Priscilla asked.
“I need to know that my companions will be there even when the wound is in the open”, I shared what was in my heart. Even though our relationship as a team only started, I had a lot of trust in all four of these Ruths. I had no idea what I will find deep inside once we go back into prayer, but I wanted to touch that “something”.
Tian Jie was weeping quietly, at first. Then it turned into a bitter, deep, painful travail. I tried to connect in my spirit, but felt so dry. As a nation, I thought, our tears of true repentance have dried up. Hermana reminded Jeremiah’s cry about the absence of Balm in Gilead – the absence of the Tears, Flesh and Blood the Messiah offered us for healing (Jer. 8:22). The prophet does this just before he summons women to wail skillfully over Zion, in order to help her start reproducing tears again. Apparently, this was necessary since the Nation’s source had dried up (9:17-18).
I listened to Tian Jie’s travail, allowing the Spirit to move. Only as I write it I realize she was doing exactly that: wailing skillfully to arouse something dry within me. She was doing what I saw before the journey started – the wounded rift will be watered by tears coming from the north. O, dear China, you have a bounty of them.
Israel cries, and a lot. Hard and loud at times, but this is not yet the bitter grief described by Zecariah – a cry birthed by a spirit of grace and supplication (Zec. 12:10). Once we will be able to weep that way, our mourning will be over.
I wondered why is it that I myself cannot cry a bitter cry. “Because it is too intimate”, I realized. It involves opening our deepest wound, being extremely vulnerable, and we / I don’t trust Him enough to do that. What if He will use it to break our heart again?
That is why we need the nations, including the Arab Ruths. We need them to push through for us. To show us that one can cry bitterly before Him and come out alive, restored, healthier.
Our national attitude towards grief is typical to the one of a bereaved woman, not the one of a Bride who can lean on her Beloved’s chest and draw from His bank of strength. We are not sure if He will be there to dry our tears and ease our pain. We have not seen His compassionate Face for so long, so we no longer approach Him as a Husband or as the Lover of our soul. That part of Him needs to be re-birthed in us.
Rania then mentioned that Israel is the one who divorced herself from God when she married the Baal. But God is still working towards the restoration of that marriage, until His Faces can shine again over the nation.
Hitting The Road Again
Late in the afternoon we finally left the hotel and drove to Mount Nebo. Summing up the riches and depths God had taken us into that morning, there were four major points we felt led to address on the mountain:
1. We wanted to see the Promised Land from its peak, just like Moses did. We wanted to have his eyes, as he says his final words to the nation.
2. This is where Moses warned the nation from the severe punishment of Hidden Faces (Deut. 31:16-18). We wanted to pray into it and make some declarations.
3. After Balaam’s failed attempt to curse Israel, he introduced them to the Baal worship. This happens immediately after God’s clear warning mentioned above. The proclaimed punishment was getting into motion as the true identity of the Angel of God was about to be hidden from our nation for centuries.
4. Moab was cursed there for not welcoming the children of Israel (Deut. 23:4). Ruth, as a Moabite, broke into that curse when she chose to embrace the God, the people and the destiny of Israel. We knew there must be a way out, a path of redemption, for all Moabites who would make the same choice.
The sight from Nebo is breathtaking. Standing on its peak you
can see many parts of Israel, even when visibility is not that good
We found a spot away from tourists, that overlooks the rift, and allowed the soil, the view, the history it carries, to sink into our souls and spirits and connect with what God wanted us to carry there.
Other Than That…
The youth activity of “Streams in the Desert”, which I shared about [see You Look Like a Ruth] was an intense and touching experience.
Before the camp even started, God kept speaking about entering the Land and eating its fruit. Only after it started, did it occur to us that for the first time, many of the leaders grew up in this ministry. And now they are coaching others, showing them how their own brokenness had turned into a beautiful service. We were all so pleased.
Sudanese refugees with one of their leaders
These Sudanese refugees did not allow us to touch them last year, or separate them one from another. Life as refugees taught them they must watch eachother’s back at all times, especially at night. This year they came trusting, able to enjoy, mingle with others and receive.
They approached me after I taught forgiveness, and were so thankful. I could tell that at least some of them embraced the message and started using this weapon.
“Young Life” assists “Streams in the Desert” with fun and sports activities.
This year they brought rappeling equipment,
which encouraged many of these precious kids to face some of their fears and insecurities and leave with a sense of achievement
Hearts were softened, kids surrendered to God, the Holy Spirit was welcomed and worked gently and powerfully in many hearts. We were saturated and deeply satisfied.