Holy Land Day One (Friday): Departure

For the next nearly two weeks I will be leading another tour group to the Holy Land (my seventh such group and my eighth overall trip to Israel), and the daily devotions during this time will be using some of the highlights of this journey as inspiration.  I hope you enjoy.

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage." - Psalm 84:5

Tomorrow I will be leaving Austin to join 33 other pilgrims from all over the United States on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  You might be asking at this point, "Why are you using the word 'pilgrimage' rather than 'tour?'  Aren't you just leading a tour?"

Technically, I suppose you could call what we will be participating in a "tour."  We will be riding on a tour bus to particular sites and we will be led by a tour guide once we get to these sites.  Additionally, the designation I have been given by the tour company indicates I am a tour host... so, there's that.

But this is so much than a tour.  Each time I set foot in Israel, I experience something like a thrill that races through my body.  I will walk where Jesus walked, pray where Jesus prayed.  I will touch biblical history, enter the waters of the Jordan River and cross the sea of Galilee on a boat.

I will walk the Via Dolorosa where millions upon millions of faithful Christians over the centuries have traced the footsteps of Christ as he carried the Cross to Calvary.  I will once again see Bethlehem, and worship on the site where it's believed Christ was born.

I can't tell you how many times I have been brought to my knees in worship when I've encountered a surprising revelation while I've been on pilgrimage in the Holy Land.  Or the number of times I've found myself standing open-mouthed and full of wonder at how the Scripture has come to life due to my surroundings.

To all those who are joining Merideth and me on this pilgrimage... Blessings to you.  As the Psalmist said, the strength of the Lord is in you because your hearts are set on pilgrimage. Let your heart continue to be open as you set on this pilgrimage to the birthplace of our faith.

And to all those who long for the strength of the Lord in your own life--may your heart be set on the pilgrimage of this day.  May you be filled with a sense of the Divine all around you, right where you are, wherever you happen to be.

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


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