Air France threatened to strike. Iran threatened to invade. Worry threatened to overwhelm. But when we arrived, it was to Sharon’s smile, Darrell’s open arms, and his words, “Welcome to my home!” Others from our group had gone early, to explore and enjoy Israel ahead of us. They added their hugs and smiles.
Our Jewish guide extended the welcome: “Welcome home!” he said. “Welcome to your home!”
For people who love the Bible, Israel is home. All the names, all the places are so familiar. The stories of this land are like tales of our grandparents, passed from generation to generation.
For example, first stop: Jaffa (formerly Joppa), on the Mediterranean coast. Here Jonah tried to run from God because he didn’t want to share the good news with non-Jews. He repented, shared the news, and Ninevah was saved!
Here Peter received a heavenly vision commanding him to share the good news with “unclean” non-Jews. He was shocked, softened and eventually changed. So the gospel spread from those shores to Macedonia in Greece, to all of Europe and Asia, eventually even to Canada.
It seems there’s a pattern. For the gospel to do its good work, we need to break free from old paradigms. Our minds need to turn further than we wanted or thought possible. Maybe that will start over these next two weeks.
Being here, our story merges with Jonah’s and Peter’s missions in Jaffa. We too are Gentiles who were given a “welcome home!”
After the threat of strike and warfare, after 14 hours in the air, to land safely and be welcomed home felt like heaven! Maybe it was a little like it! Heaven’s where our Father will say, “Welcome to my home!” It’s where Abraham’s descendants who have walked by faith will include us as family. It’s where those who have gone ahead eagerly await our arrival.
Like our group, those on the other side are incomplete without us. The party doesn’t really start till we’re all there! They’ll be waiting in the Arrivals hall of heaven to greet us too, saying “Welcome Home!”