With only a week until we leave for Israel, I find myself thinking a lot of the trip I took to Turkey in January 2003. I traveled with a group from college to Istanbul, the 7 cities from Revelation, and the Island of Patmos (Greece). It was a life-changing trip, so put it mildly. Ephesus was by far one of the highlights for me. It is the most well-preserved city of the 7, with bath houses, homes, temples, a library, and amphitheater. But the part that made my head whirl was that I was walking on streets that the Apostle Paul himself walked on. In Acts 19, we read about how Paul went into the city and preached. Eventually the idol makers started to lose business because of the people converting to Christianity, and this caused a riot. We read: 29″Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater.” The riot went to the theater – the very theater in my picture. The theater that we entered, climbed the steps, then sat as a group and sang praise songs and hymns. The disciples had to keep Paul from entering the theater, because they feared for his life. The funny thing about the riot, is that some people were shouting one thing, some another, and some people didn’t even know why they were there (vs 32)! I’m guessing that they just figured that something exciting was going on and they didn’t want to miss it!
One of my other favorite places was the island of Patmos in Greece. It took us 4 hours on a ferry to arrive on the island. And it was beautiful! My first thought was “why on earth would anyone pick this island to put criminals on?” If I were a ruler or rich person back then, I would have wanted that island as my vacation spot! It is a 22-square-mile island with it’s own natural harbor. The weather in January was 60 degrees and sunny – and our guide there was complaining that he had to put on a jacket that day! We looked at him like he was crazy, since we had left Chicago in a snow storm! The sky was clear, and the water a beautiful shade of blue. We got to go to the cave where tradition says the Apostle John lived while on the island. Whether it was or wasn’t, it was just so amazing to be on the same patch of land where John had been when he received the revelation from the Lord. The picture to the left shows a view from the monastery that was built over the cave – so of course we were not allowed to take pictures inside, but the view from the outside was amazing!
Now my dreams turn back to Turkey and Greece while imagining what Israel will be like. How much more exciting will it be to walk not just where the disciples walked, but where Jesus himself walked? Soon I will be able to see in my mind’s eye the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water. And the field where David defeated Goliath. I’m sure I will have so many pictures and experiences to share, that I will have to set up a Shutterfly album so everyone can see what I am about to experience. Words cannot express just how excited I am!
And one of the coolest things is how God has provided the finances for this trip! While I am still in need of a little more funding, my God is faithful to provide, and He has promised to provide. So now I just have to wait and watch for how He will provide the last bits of the finances in the next week, because He will. Great is the Lord and worthy of praise!