The Day I Visited the Ruins in Capernaum
Six weeks ago I was touring the beautiful areas surrounding the Sea of Galilee, and I regret saying this, but I’m beginning to feel removed from that special time in a special place. You see, up until the past few days, everything made me remember our tour of Israel. It was as though I could not separate myself from what I enjoyed just weeks earlier. My mind remained fixed on the learning that took place alongside new friends, the songs we sang, the food we ate, the sites visited, and on it goes…
I know my experience is not unique. You also have been in a setting that thrilled you to the core, and coming down from the “mountain-top experience” was not instantaneous. Yet, with the passage of time, life went on, and although you didn’t forget completely, the thing that marked your life deeply became something of the distant past.
What you and I know to be true about our tendency to forget is part of human nature. We hold on tightly to the memories of crisis, and maybe the scars are all too visible to help with that, but we allow the joyous times to fade into oblivion. In fact, it is one of the most heartbreaking things for me to read in Scripture. The Lord God constantly reminded Israel to remember what He had done for them- a miraculous escape from captivity in Egypt. According to the Lord, this was something that was to be mentally and verbally rehearsed. They were to set up memorials and report to their children the significance of the “stones of remembrance.” God’s miracles of the past should have fueled Israel’s faith for the then-present challenges.
Likewise, our celebration of God’s salvation and deliverance for us should always be upon our lips! Let’s never grow tired of thanking Him for forgiveness and declaring our freedom from sin’s stronghold. Jesus’ finished work of the cross and resurrection from the dead is our eternal source for praise! And, let us remember our life marked with His victory. There are many mountain-top experiences that we have encountered already, and there are more to come!
So, my memorial to Galilee is necessary. It was here that Jesus performed countless miracles: healings, walking on water, casting out demons, telling waves and winds to be still, raising the dead… In anticipating the trip to Israel, I had a secret desire that led me to say a simple prayer. I asked the Father if I might be able to share something from His Word while on the Mount of Beatitudes. Jesus taught throughout Galilee, and being a lover of the Creator’s beautiful handiwork, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place to share God’s Word than a scenic hillside overlooking the sea. How many times had my mind’s eye seen those gathered and seated on the ground while the wind gently blew and Jesus spoke of heaven’s realities? To follow in His footsteps in such a way would have been a thrill beyond measure.
Since I had not taken a tour of Israel before, I had no idea if group members are invited to share personal insights. To my delight, I found that our guide asked the pastors among us to share at each site. The application of the truths represented by each location visited were revealed by those faithful men who regularly shared. Everything we heard and learned from our guide and the pastors was very revelational! God’s Word taught in the land of His chosen people is something to cherish! And I did.
The time on the Mount of Beatitudes came and went quickly. I wasn’t disappointed that the opportunity to share never presented itself- I trusted God with that. However, our tour of Capernaum opened a door I wasn’t expecting.
Amir led us into the first-century synagogue built by a centurion who loved Israel. We observed the intricacy of design found in the stone structure, and took in the evidence that Capernaum had a wealthy population.
It was truly breathtaking to walk the floors of the place where Jesus visited and taught. Amir led us to a side wall in the shade where our group was able to rest upon the built-in stone bench while he spoke from the Scriptures concerning the significance of this town and building.
Then Amir said something I hadn’t heard him say before: “Anyone else?” It was an open invitation to declare the Word of God. In the past, Amir directed the added learning to one of the two pastors, but this was different! I felt the quickening of the Holy Spirit, so I asked him, “Can I say something?” Amir invited me to come up to where he was standing and to speak into his mic. I didn’t talk about my personal experience with application of the passage already shared… this wasn’t a time for testimony; it was a time to boldly exhort. The Holy Spirit spoke directly to husbands and parents and each one who calls a city or town their own. The exhortation to the watchmen came forth effortlessly, and I knew the Holy Spirit was meeting a need for revelation.
That was a day I will never forget- or at least I hope never to forget as long as I continue to revisit this memorial! The sweetness of the Father’s heart to give me the desire of my own! He designed the time and place, and I couldn’t be any more tendered by His attentive love!