“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
On May 9 I boarded my first plane and traveled roughly 6,000 miles to Israel. I came back from my trip with a wicked Chaco tan, a brain full of unanswered questions, and crippling anxiety over how I would describe my trip once I got back. I did indeed come back with new eyes, and new views and new perspectives; but I had no idea how to express them in a coherent way. Since returning, I have balked at the thought of putting all I saw and experienced there into words. During my entire three-week sojourn I mulled over what I would say to people when they asked me about the trip. Every time the scenario played in my head, I couldn’t find the words to say. I fell short.
When I finally did come back and people asked me how my trip was all I could say was “incredible” or “amazing.”
Come on Jordan, you literally spent three weeks where Jesus walked and preached and lived, and all you can say is amazing?!
I was so frustrated and utterly disappointed. Instead of coming up with poignant words to describe this life changing trip, I stuttered. Instead of sharing my experiences with others, I hid it away out of fear of not doing it justice. I kept quiet because I didn’t want to say the wrong words.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that all the fear and insecurity was washed away by the Lord himself. Scott, a leader in my church that knew I had been to Israel casually asked me, “What was your favorite part of the trip?”
My heart began to race thinking of all the possible things I could say. As I was about to resort to my default answer, it was as if God showed him the anxiety and trouble within my heart and he rephrased the question.
“Actually, what was your favorite part about being near the Sea of Galilee specifically?”
My heart began to flutter less and less. The gears in my brain began to slow down. The Holy Spirit within me assured that I could answer this.
“The site of Peter’s Restoration” said a voice that wasn’t my own.
“Really?” he replied, “mine too.”
“Can you tell me more?”
Stress within me began to build again and this is where the Lord totally took over. I recalled the story illustrated in John 21. As the disciples are gathered by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus appears to them. I imagine Peter’s emotions as he sees Jesus, who just days before had been hung on a cross to die. As Jesus walks toward them, is Peter shamefully remember his denial of Jesus? Is he thinking, how could I ever show my face around Jesus again? Does he wish he could disappear? Does he expect the Lord to bestow his wrath on him in the painful way Peter deserves? I know those are the things I would be thinking.
But, this is not at all what Jesus does. Instead, he lovingly comes to Peter and out of grace and mercy restores him. And not only does he restore him, but he gives him a mission.
Feed my sheep.
Even when I struggle to remember this daily, this is the message of the Gospel. Though I am sinful and deny Christ every chance I get, He is holy. In his holiness, he loves and restores me time after time, and grants me with the honor of bringing people into his kingdom.
Being by the Sea of Galilee, in this location, where the Lord so graciously restored Peter, brought a truth I had been forgetting to the forefront of my mind: The Lord restores me when I sin against Him, and then equips me to share his glory with others.
A month ago when I thought about communicating what I experienced in Israel I froze, but somehow in this moment I was able to effortlessly express the impact this site had on me.
In that moment, it was so clear that the the Holy Spirit worked in me and gave me power. I realized it less about using beautiful words or sounding educated. It didn’t matter if I recounted every single detail right or forgot exactly what city I was in on what day of the trip. What mattered was what God taught me while I was there, and how I apply that to my life now, and shared that with others. It what was when I let go of the fear of saying the wrong thing, forgot about all the minuscule details and trusted the Lord that I finally found the words to speak.