In the Void: Reflections from Israel

Do you ever struggle with finding your purpose in the day-to-day things? Do you ever feel like the things you do every single day don’t really matter? I think we all feel this way during the various seasons of life, but it’s especially difficult in the weeks following Sukkot.

In the months leading up to Sukkot, we intensely prepare. We must first walk through the extremely difficult month of Elul then we celebrate Yom Teruach and continue preparing for the Day of Atonement. We are then closely examined on the day of Yom Kippur and conclude the season with the marriage celebration of Sukkot. But throughout all this time, we have purpose. We are driven on by our preparations for Yom Kippur and Sukkot; our preparations to be found pleasing to our Bridegroom on that day. Even the smallest of our actions and circumstances take on significance.

But after Sukkot? What do we do in the ordinary days? How do we find purpose in the monotony of our daily routines?

This is what the Temple Institute in Jerusalem had to say about the days following Sukkot:

The current month of Mar Cheshvan is the only month of the Hebrew calendar that does not feature even a minor observance – not even a fast day. Especially given the fact that this month comes right after the action-packed month of Tishrei – which is host to the High Holidays and Sukkot, with its high-profile, action-oriented mitzvoth [a good deed] – this month of Mar Cheshvan seems particularly drab and colorless… a fitting introduction to winter. After the rush of adrenalin we experience in Tishrei that manifests itself in every aspect of our prayers and spiritual pursuits, is this month not something of an anticlimax?

From “Mar Cheshvan: The Dedication of the Third Temple”

What this tells me is that everyone struggles at times with finding purpose. There are seasons that come and go; mountain tops and valleys low. But in the midst of every season, we can find hope and purpose for the future.

Her Gates are Empty…
So this year on my trip to Israel, I stayed a few extra days in Israel alone after my group had gone home. It was a wonderful time spent reconnecting with YHVH and simply resting in His Holy City. It was exactly what I needed.Jerusalem Parade

It was a completely different experience than the trip I had just been on. The day my group left, so did the other tourist groups that had come for Sukkot. Suddenly, Jerusalem was calm; quiet. I had never seen it so still before!

During our time together in Israel, our group had participated in a parade honoring Israel with the participants representing nations from around the world! It’s quite the amazing experience to see the nations of the world gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the nation of Israel.

We also saw the Water Libation ceremony, which has not taken place in over 2,000 years, performed by the Third Temple Institute inWater Libation Priests Jerusalem. We walked the same path that the priests and kings of old would have walked and watched at the Pool of Siloam as the priests drew water with the silver vessels and danced with the hundreds of people who came to celebrate this miraculous occasion! As a reference point, the Pool of Siloam was the same water source used during the Temple periods for TemplWater Libatione ceremonies. It was also the place where Yeshua healed the blind man.

Our group also stood on the Temple Mount where we were shielded by His hand from prying eyes and were allowed to worship on the Temple Mount. To convey just how much of an extraordinary miracle this is, let me describe Temple Mount protocol.

Only in the past year have Jews even been allowed to walk on the Temple Mount. When Christians go on the Temple Mount, Bibles are confiscated…so leave them in your room. There is absolutely NO prayer allowed on the Temple Mount by Jews or Christians. And there are Muslim plain clothes police always roaming the Temple Mount checking and watching for these things.

So for us to have a few brief minutes to FREELY worship on the Temple Mount is more of a miracle than I can describe with words!

Climbing MasadaI climbed Masada, found the Ark of the Covenant (not the real one, of course), prayed at the Holy of Holies, got caught in a Palestinian riot, went to an Israeli concert, saw archaeological digs of 1st Century villages, and rode the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The list could go on and on and on but you get the point. We were busy. We saw a lot of amazing things. Each one of us experienced miracles in our lives. We received the healing touches we needed and we experienced YHVH and His love in ways like never before.Ark of the Covenant

But then, the party was over. The people left and Jerusalem went back to day-to-day life. The streets that just days ago had been filled to the breaking point with people, were empty. The gates that had been flooded with people from the nations of the earth, were bare. The city had gone quiet. The atmosphere was still. It was almost as if the city itself was also resting from the festivities of the previous weeks.

But even though the gates of Jerusalem were empty, her heart, and the heart of her King, was full.

…But Her Heart is Full
One of the things YHVH spoke most clearly about with me was resting. I struggled with finding things to do for myself on the days after my group went back home. I kept asking Him which museums to go to, or if I should take any day trips. I wanted to be busy and doing something…anything.

But then His voice came through so clearly and so gently.

“What? I can’t rest. I need to find things to do.”
“Because I don’t want to waste my time.”
“Would it really be wasting your time to rest with Me?”

I was cut straight to the heart with that one. He was right. I needed to rest. I had been non-stop for weeks in preparing for this trip and then the actual trip itself. I was tired and needed Him to mend me. He showed me that it’s never a waste of time to rest…especially with Him. And even more especially with Him in Jerusalem.

So I decided to rest. I would take my time getting ready in the mornings and would ask Him where He wanted me to go that day. He always led me somewhere peaceful where I could be with Him. The time I spent alone with YHVH in Jerusalem was priceless.  It was a time to renew my love for Him; a time to be refreshed by Him. And I desperately needed that.

As the days went on, He began to teach me an important lesson about being still. image

Sometimes I feel that if I am doing nothing, then I’m wasting my time or not doing anything worthwhile. But what I fail to see is that strength is found in stillness and trust. In quietness, I can better hear His direction. When in the void, I can hear Him clearer than ever before. When I allow myself to be still and embrace the nothingness, it is then that I am able to receive His direction for the next steps He wants me to take.

As I walked the streets of Jerusalem, and again noticed how quiet everything was, I began to reflect on Jerusalem’s emptiness.

Being in Jerusalem after Sukkot is like being the last guest at a party after all the other guests have gone home. It’s quiet and peaceful; more real somehow. It’s during this quiet time that you can talk with the Host in a different way than when He was hosting the party. It’s more intimate. You get to see the house as it always is; when there aren’t any guests and only the family resides there. You get a private look into what it’s like to be in the House during the day-to-day.

I was again reminded that the gates of Jerusalem were empty but her heart, and the heart of Her King, was full.

In the Void
So how do we find meaning in the void? How do we find purpose in the mundane seasons? How do we come off the highs of life into the regular days? How do we go from standing on mountain tops to sitting at a desk all day?image

How do we find this same fullness even when our own gates are empty?

A few days ago, in yet another confirmation of the lesson YHVH is trying to teach me, I read from Frances J. Roberts’ devotional Come Away, My Beloved. I think this particular devotion, narrated in our Beloved’s voice, says it best.

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 6:17

My beloved, you do not need to make your path, for I go before you. Yes, I will engineer circumstances on your behalf. I am your husband; I will protect you, care for you, and make full provision for you.

I know your need, and I am concerned for you; for your peace, for your health, for your strength. I cannot use a tired body, and you need to take time to renew your energies, both spiritual and physical. I am the God of battle, but I am also the One who said, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 4-:31).

I will teach you, as I taught Moses on the back side of the desert, and as I taught Paul in Arabia. In the same way, I will teach you, and it will be a constructive period, not in any sense wasted time. Like the summer course to the schoolteacher, it is vital to you in order to become fully qualified for your ministry.

There is no virtue in activity in and of itself – nor in inactivity. I minister to you in solitude that you may minister to others as a spontaneous overflow of our communion. Never labor to serve, nor force opportunities. Set your heart to be at peace and to sit at My feet. Learn to be ready but not to be anxious. Learn to say “no” to human demands and to say “yes” to the call of the Spirit. These may sometimes be at variance. Do not be distressed by the misunderstanding of people. Let Me take care of them Myself. They too must learn this same important lesson, and you can help them by setting the example; but if you try to please them by answering every demand, you will both fall into the same snare.

I am a jealous God, and I am always at peace with Myself. I would have you also to be at peace with My Spirit within you. As you give Me My rightful place and do not allow others to intrude, you will be at peace with Me. Be very serious in this. I am not speaking to you lightly. I was never more earnest in any message I have brought to you. Do not fail Me. I have brought you this message at various times in the past. It was never more urgent than now.

For people are experiencing a new awakening, and they are searching for My Truth more than ever. I must speak through My prophets; and if they are not set apart for Me, how can I instruct them? Yes, I will nourish by the brook as I nourished Elijah; and I will speak to you out of the bush as I spoke to Moses and reveal My glory on the hillside as I did to the shepherds.

Come away, My beloved; be like the doe on the mountains; and we will go down together to the gardens.

So even when I’m in the void, He is preparing me for the next step; for the next season of my life. And just like the gates of Jerusalem, even when all is still and quiet around me, I can find fullness and strength by allowing Him to restore me. In His arms, I am rejuvenated. In His presence I am made whole again.

So even in the void, will your heart be full?

In Stillness and Trust is Your Strength

For thus said the Master YHVH, the Set-apart One of Israel, “In returning and rest you are saved, in stillness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

So maybe this has been obvious to everyone but me but I finally realized what this verse is talking about.

I’ve noticed that when something in my life goes wrong, I tend to find things to keep myself busy. Not always, but a majority of the time.

I have to find something to clean, someone to visit, a new project to start, or a trail that must be run.

But in the back of my mind I can hear my Father calling me to Himself.

“Be still,” He tells me. “Come rest in My presence.”

But the silence scares me. I’m afraid of being alone with my thoughts; my worries; myself. The pain that I might feel if I sit in silence terrifies me. And yet…I can hear His voice in my ear.

“In stillness and trust is your strength.”

And today it finally made sense. How can I worship if I am busying myself with other things? How can I hear His guiding voice if I am seeking others out? How can I let His healing touch wash over me if I am literally running away?

I can’t.

Which is why He calls us to stillness.

In stillness, we can worship. In silence, we can pray. In the quiet, He is found.

So instead of fearing the silence perhaps we should embrace the stillness of being alone with Him. After all, “In rest and returning [to Him] you are saved.”

Click here to listen to “Downpour” by WorshipMob. It’s a great worship song to listen to while being still.