Day 2 in the Holy Land – What I Never Noticed About Jesus

I ran my hand over the large rock and closed my eyes. What an incredible moment it was for me to stand where Jesus once stood. I opened my Bible and let the full reality of all He was facing, fall fresh on me.

Day 2 in the Holy Land - What I never noticed about Jesus

I wanted to read the Scriptures leading up to this moment where He sat on Mt. Arbel and prayed and watched the disciples just before walking on water.

But I cautioned myself to read the uncommon sentences. Too many times I highlight verses telling of Jesus’ miracles but skim right past those telling of deeply human realities.

In Mark 5 we see Jesus interacting with a woman desperate to be healed from her bleeding disorder. He frees her from her suffering and gives her peace. And we find Him healing the young daughter of a synagogue ruler.


But we also find in verse 40, “But they laughed at him.”

In Mark chapter 6 we find Jesus sending out the twelve disciples and as they preached, “They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them,” (v.13.)


But we also find verse 3, “…And they took offense at him.”

We find Him having great compassion on the people who followed Him in the feeding of the five thousand. They all ate and were satisfied by five loaves and two fish.


But we also see that Jesus and His disciples were physically depleted, “because so many were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,” (v.31).

Messy realities were in the midst of the miracles.

And isn’t it so like us to miss this about Jesus’ everyday life? We hyper focus on the lines of Scripture containing the miracles so much that we miss the detail of the mess.

Jesus had people laugh at Him and reject Him and misunderstand Him. We know this in theory, but as I sat on that rock that day I suddenly realized what an everyday reality this was for Him.

Now, here’s what happens to me in my life… I get so focused on the mess, I miss the miracles.

And that’s the very thing that happens to the disciples right after the feeding of the five thousand. They got in a boat and strong winds caused the water to get very rough. The disciples were straining at the oars as the realities of life beat against them.

Jesus was on the mountainside praying. From this spot on Mt. Arbel, Jesus could see the middle of the lake where the disciples were. Mark 6:47-48, “When the evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”

Day 2 in the Holy Land - What I never noticed about Jesus

Jesus saw them. He went down to them. And they missed the miracle in the midst of the mess.

The same miracle worker that multiplied the fish and the loaves was now walking on the water near them and they thought He was a ghost. They were terrified and then were amazed but they didn’t understand for the Scriptures say, “their hearts were hardened,” (v.52).

It seems to me Jesus has a pattern of doing the miraculous in the setting of messes.

Oh Lord, let me see this. Please don’t let the messes of life harden my heart and blind me to Your presence. Instead of being so terrified in the midst of the mess, might I keep the picture of You, watching me, always watching me. And might I find courage in the assurance that You will come to me with Your miraculous presence.

I need to spend a whole lot less time trying to fix the messes in my life… and a whole lot more time keeping my heart soft in the process. Then I won’t miss the miraculous work of Jesus in the midst of my mess.

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Day 1 in the Holy Land – What I Learned from the Olive Tree

No one wants to have their heart crushed. But being wounded in deep places happens. Sometimes it just seems to be a part of the rhythm of life.

And when these hard times come, we feel it all so very deeply. And we wonder if others have these hard, hard moments. After all, we don’t snap pictures of the crushing times and post them on Instagram.

We just wonder if we have what it takes to survive…

…when the doctor calls and says he needs to talk to me in person about the test results.

…when the teacher sends one of “those” emails about my child that evokes tall shadows of fear.

…when something someone shares online feels as if a dagger was driven deep inside me.

…when someone I love closes their heart and turns their back on me.

…when I feel so utterly incapable and unable and afraid.

I suspect you know the tear-filled place from which I speak.

So, let’s journey first to the olive tree and learn.

To get to the place I want to take you we must cross the Kidron Valley. I’ll post more about this place later but here’s a picture:

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

John 18: 1-2, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.”

Jesus often met in the shadow and shade of the olive tree.

The olive grove mentioned above is the Garden of Gethsemane. In this garden is where Jesus, just before his arrest said to Peter, James and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” (Mark 14:34).

Jesus knew the crushing heart feeling. He felt it. He wrestled with it. He carried it.

And I don’t think it was a coincidence the olive tree was there in this moment of deep sorrow for Jesus.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

The olive tree is such a picture of why our hearts must go through the crushing times.

First, in order to be fruitful it has to have both the east wind and the west wind. The east wind is the dry hot wind from the desert. This is a harsh wind. So harsh that it can blow over green grass and make it completely wither in one day. (The east wind is also the one that blew over Job’s house.)

The west wind, on the other hand, comes from the Mediterranean. It brings rain and life.

The olive tree needs both of these winds to produce fruit… and so do we. We need both the winds of hardship and winds of relief to sweep across our life if we are to truly be fruitful.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

Another thing to consider about the olive tree is how naturally bitter the olive is and what it must go through to be useful. In October if you were to pick an olive from the tree and try to eat it, its bitterness would make you sick.

For the olive to be eatable, it has to go through a lengthy process which includes…
sometimes salting,
and waiting some more.

It is a lengthy process to be cured of bitterness.

If we are to escape the natural bitterness of the human heart, we have to go through a long process as well… the process of being cured.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

The final thing I want to consider about the olive is not just how bitter it is, but also how strong and hard it is when picked straight from the tree. If you are harvesting olives for oil, you must pray for a soaking rain to come if you hope to get oil from the olives. It needs a hard rain of at least 2-3 hours so the water can make it all the way up the roots, through the tree, and to the olives.

Then the olives can be picked and preserved.

And the best way to preserve an olive for the long run? Crush it and extract the oil from it.

The same is true for us. The Biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

But what about the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV where it says, “we are pressed but not crushed”? Let’s read verses 8 and 9 in the King James version:

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”

This was one of the biggest “aha” moments for me standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn’t the olive’s end.

Crushing is the way of preservation for the olive. It’s also the way to get what’s most valuable, the oil, out of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed… pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

I think I need to revisit this truth often.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

But here’s the thing I must remember as I think back about my time with the olive tree:

When the sorrowful winds of the east blow, I forget they are necessary.

When I’m being processed, I forget it’s for the sake of ridding me of bitterness.

And when I’m being crushed I forget it’s for the sake of my preservation.

I forget all these things so easily. I wrestle and cry and honestly want to resist every bit of this. Oh, how I forget.

Maybe God knew we all would.

And so, He created the olive tree.

Oh Holy Spirit, speak to us in whatever way You need to. Whatever part of this is for us personally, may we see, receive, and be revived.


Experience the Holy Land Without Having to Leave Home

Have you ever read the Bible and wished you could have been there in that place to see what Jesus was pointing at… to walk where He walked… to see what the Disciples saw?

I just returned home from the Holy Land. There really aren’t enough words to fully describe what I experienced there.

That’s why I want to share some of my journey through pictures and devotions over the next several weeks.

I believe the pictures are so necessary because we think in pictures. Our mind houses thousands, maybe millions of pictures that help us visualize words we hear and read. Without pictures we can’t possibly capture the depth of proper meaning.

I saw this when we adopted our boys from Africa. Though they spoke English, there was a pretty extreme language barrier between us. For example, if I said, “Do you want to eat a hot dog?”… they would picture a dog who was very hot… and, well, you get why that lunch discussion didn’t go very well.

That’s what I kept thinking about while on my intense study trip in Israel. I’ve studied the Scriptures for years, but without the pictures in my mind I missed so much.

Oh, how I wish I could whisk you away to experience Israel with me in person. Maybe we can do this together one day! But since that’s not possible today, I thought I could slip a few pictures and thoughts under your door and with great enthusiasm say, “Isn’t it amazing?”

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Now, let’s begin.

I started my journey with shaky hands, wearing broken in boots…

Explore the Holy Land with Lysa TerKeurst through pictures and posts!

After 13 hours of flying, we landed in Israel. I was in the Holy Land. And my soul whispered, “you will feel at home here.”

Explore the Holy Land with Lysa TerKeurst through pictures and posts!

My prayer is that you would have that same sense of feeling at home through these pictures, posts, and devotions. I can’t wait to relive this journey with you.