I am heading for my personal date with pain and anguish in unloading this cargo (my own personal Jerusalem). During the trip, I was stretched, it was painful, it was necessary. I have been changed. I will never be the same. The identification with Jesus, His anguish, and purpose for coming is now a part of who I am. We have all heard the words, “All’s well that ends well.” I want you to know that all has ended well.
I am so eager to tell you about Israel and Jerusalem in particular, that I am going to take some short cuts to get there. The anguish in my heart is too great; and the only way I am able to divest myself of the pain is to tell you about my Jerusalem experience. The quicker I do that, the sooner I will be able to sleep again. I do enjoy unloading my cargo ship, but would prefer if the process would not begin at 4:00 or 5:00 each morning. Sleeping late is generally one of those luxuries granted to those who are celebrating their golden years.
Rebekah and I took two days to drive to Meadow Vista in California. It’s 1000 miles from our front door to the front door of John and Henrietta Reed. Their home was the base camp for the journey. We drove 600 miles the first day and stayed the night in Ely, Nevada at a Best Western Motel. Driving 600 miles in one day is pushing the envelope for us, but we managed to do it without experiencing undue fatigue.
Our chariot was a ‘98 Cadillac, a gift from friends. In addition to the presence of our guardian angels and the Holy Spirit, we invited Joyce Meyers to come along with us – no, not in person, but via her humorous, one-of-a-kind teaching tapes. I said to Rebekah as we were listening, “Who needs a counselor or psychiatrist when they can invite Joyce Meyers into their living room?”
I can’t recall specific subjects just now that we listened to except for a four-tape series entitled, “The Pure in Heart.” We were never bored. Our friend Janna had loaned us a whole bunch of Joyce Meyers’ tapes. Both coming and going, we enjoyed Joyce Meyers. The beautiful and varied landscape and the voice of Joyce made the hours and miles fly by.
On Friday, the 16th of September, at about 7:00 p.m., my traveling companion, John Reed, and I took off for San Francisco in preparation for boarding United Airlines flight #956 the next morning at 8:00 a.m. The first leg of our journey would take us to the JFK Airport in New York, and from there via Austrian Airlines to Vienna, Austria, and then on to Israel. Rebekah was scheduled to get some much-needed rest and pampering from Henrietta, John’s wife, while John and I were in Israel. They planned to do a bunch of girl-stuff together and hunker down for some serious praying with intercessor, Laurie Seifert.
On our way to San Francisco, a distance of ninety miles, we stopped in Sacramento, where I had a chance to see the Reed Lumber Company and lay hands on the company’s sign to pray for favor. Then we both got a cup of Starbuck’s coffee and proceeded to the Marriott Courtyard Hotel near the airport. I had planned to say a lot more about what happened between San Francisco, New York, Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Jerusalem, but am so eager to get to Jerusalem, that I will not go into quaint little details, at least not now.
It does bear mentioning that Beersheba was a disappointment. I had expected to find a little town with tree-lined palm trees, manicured yards, and red-tiled roofs. Instead of finding a town of 15,000 inhabitants, we found a town of concrete, boasting 250,000 residents or more. The Ben Gurion University was a stunning set of buildings that reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s innovative designs. We stayed at the Paradise Hote in Beersheba on Monday night, the 19th of September, enjoyed an opulent breakfast, and then high-tailed it out of town. Jerusalem was our destination. By American driving standards, Jerusalem was almost next door to Beersheba – a total of eighty-four kilometers or fifty miles.
My friend, Dan Karvonen, just called as I was writing. He asked me about the trip to Israel. I gave him my snapshot report over the phone. He remarked, “Your friends prayed you to hell and back when you went to Jerusalem.” He could not have spoken a truer word. But the Holy Spirit also graced us with two wonderful days at the Sea of Galilee at the end of the trip. Those two days were like dessert and a breath of fresh air.
Dan has been to Israel five times. He told me that the first time he arrived, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Welcome home, my son.” When Peter arrived it felt more like being on an alien, hostile planet. John, my seasoned traveling companion, and I both sensed that we were sent to Israel to observe, but not to critique anything or cause a riot. Dan just told me, “Peter, you were sent as the Lord’s scribe; report what you see, hear, and feel.”
That sounds about right. If I stray from being more than a scribe, please forgive me. But being a scribe, allows me to write not only what my five senses observed, but also what my heart saw. My heart sees and knows a lot of things that may not be obvious to others.
Every person who goes to Israel experiences the Holy Land differently. And if we go more than once, we are bound to experience it differently. So, let us not judge or condemn one another about the way we experience Israel and Jerusalem, where God chose to reveal Himself through his Son, Jesus of Nazareth. We all see the world through different lenses. May we see through the eyes of Jesus and be able to endure what we see.
Finding the right place to stay in Jerusalem was our first priority. We had no reservations. While still at home, John contacted a bed and breakfast via e-mail and got a response from a man who lived in an area known as Yemin Moshe at 12 Ha’mevasar. John knows how to read a map, drive carefully through narrow streets, and be an aggressive driver when necessary. But in this case, he needed a lot more than intelligence and daring to locate the address; he needed that Holy Ghost radar and the protection of guardian angels.
After asking a number of questions from people who did not speak English and were of little help, John found the address and knocked on the right door. The landlord, a retired film producer by the name of Yosie Avissa, received us kindly but had to inform us that there was no available room or apartment. He remembered the inquiry via e-mail two weeks earlier but also remembered that John had not responded to tell him when we needed a room. John didn’t yet know when we would need it, and that’s why he did not respond.
We were slowly retracing our steps back to the car when a young man ran after us, hailing us to stop. He was an American tourist on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his young wife and four-month-old baby. He had rented the whole downstairs apartment at 12 Ha’mevasar and had overheard a part of our conversation with the owner.
He said, “I rented the entire downstairs for one week. There are actually two separate units and you are welcome to have either one of them.”
We went back, looked about, and decided on the larger one that had both a bedroom and living room. John negotiated with the owner for five days at $99.00 per night. But when John asked if he could pay with his Visa credit card, the owner balked.
John replied, “I’ll be glad to add the 4% service charge that it costs you to process the credit card.”
John did not tell me what the owner agreed to.
The tenant and owner asked us to come back in a couple of hours in order to allow them time to move things to the other unit and put fresh sheets on the beds. The downstairs apartment was something like a cave, and that’s just what we needed to feel safe. What we did during those two hours is blurred. The only thing I remember is that we found a mini grocery store and purchased a few snack items.
For us to rent a part of the downstairs was a blessing to the other tenant because his part of the rent was reduced by the amount we paid. Everyone was blessed. It was another one of those God-things.
I never slept well while in Israel. I might sleep for three or four hours, then wake up and process the events of the previous day until dawn. The jet lag caused by a ten-hour time differential between California and Israel did not help. New surroundings, different food, sleep deprivation, physical and emotional pain, the language and alphabet barrier – all these things bundled together or in any combination can cause the veil between heaven and hell to become very thin; and it did.
Thus, the Holy Spirit was able to get my attention, and the Voice of the Lord was more poignant than ever before.
The next chapter tells the story.