Inside Israel – Of Buses and Lite Rails and Forests and Praise

Hello and welcome to this Sunday’s Inside Israel. J of Jerusalem, a Jewish believer, writes us a moving letter to stir us, make us think and to glorify Him. Thank you for your prayers for Israel, J and her family! Now here’s J . . .

This letter is long and might take several sittings if you choose to read it. It was written over the period of a number of days. God bless you for your friendship in Our Lord! ALL glory and praise and honor and blessing to HIM Who saved us, redeemed us to Himself, given the victory and knit us together…King of kings and Lord of lords, The Lord, Yeshua h’Meshiach, The Lion of Judah, The risen Lamb, Jesus, The Son of The Father, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
“It is good to give thanks to The Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High, To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your Faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1,2
“Those who are planted in the house of our The Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bare fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing TO DECLARE THAT THE LORD IS UPRIGHT; HE IS MY ROCK AND THERE IS NO UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN HIM.”! Psalm 92:13,14,15
Oh how I DELIGHTED in Psalm 92, particularly these verses yesterday! Ever been ‘enraptured’ by a verse? I know you have…Keys and promises. His way is straight, narrow, and simple…NOT ‘simple’ as in ‘easy’, mind you…atleast NOT easy on the flesh! But it is simple as in ‘forthright’…”THIS is MY way…walk ye in it”!
This week has been too ‘loaded’ to wait any longer before writing, even if fatigue, interruptions, time constraints and computer problems stop me in the midst. Many of you are also reeling from the events of the past week or two, I’m sure: uncertainties of the trembling economy; riots; drought; spewing volcanoes … I know many of you whom I write to are in parts of the world experiencing these things and more. At the same time a number of you sent reports and ‘links’ to different prayer meetings and words shared that have touched you deeply with hope and inspired a renewed spirit of prayer and repentance. It seems that at times it is difficult for me to keep my balance…fixed in Him…steady when all around me is shaking and demanding my attention. But I choose to give thanks to The Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High, To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your Faithfulness every night, and to believe that I am planted in the house of our The Lord and, that even as I grow older (SO quickly!) that I shall still bare fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing TO DECLARE THAT THE LORD IS UPRIGHT! Halleluyah!
To observe, AND to declare. Having been placed by His amazing Hand into the heart of Jerusalem, it has seemed important to me to ‘observe’ and ‘declare’ to you who pray, things that might make praying for Israel, Jerusalem and the Jews (of which I am one) more real. May The Lord make me an able servant and a faithful steward for His purposes and His glory.
We have been here now for 17 years, and today I was reminded a fresh just how much ‘change’ we have witnessed in that relatively short time. Most of you might recall that I work in a small doctor’s office; I have described it many times. When I began working there, nearly 13 years ago, there was one very small electric space heater in winter and a small fan in the summer. The ‘office’ is the entry floor of a small 3 story apartment house, which had originally been an ‘Arab house’. As with all of our buildings, it is made of stone, and the Arab houses usually pre date 1948. They are neither insulated, nor do they have many of the ‘modern innovations’ that conserve warmth or cold, so they are generally hot in the summer and cold in the winter. (We live in a similar apartment) When I began working I would come with a hot water bottle that I filled from the kettle (there is no hot running water there) and a lap blanket. After a couple of years we got a second and third space heater, and finally a larger, more modern one. My hot water bottle and blanket could stay home…as long as I have a good sweater. Summer, however, remained with just the fan (or several of them), and I was fine with that. In fact, when we arrived in Israel I did not know of one place that had air-conditioning. Everyone had fans…big stores had BIG fans…loud, dirty, overhead ones. Buses had fans. People would often just put their heads under a cold water faucet, or wet down their shirts if the weather were particularly hot. That was fine with me…I tend to (personally) suffer from cold. But ‘change’ comes. After the last intifada, so many of our buses were blown up that we got new models…with air conditioning. Stores, like dominoes, followed suit and got rid of their fans, shut their doors to keep in the cold air from their new air conditioning units. New cars began appearing with air-conditioning. Apartments were next. I noticed that the ‘human thermostat’ seemed to become less heat tolerant as it was exposed to air conditioning. ‘Na’hag! Ha’am meod! Yotair mazgan!’ (‘Driver! It’s too hot! More air conditioning!’) I began hearing on the bus…and…burr! The driver would turn it on full blast. More and more people began entering our office and complaining ‘It’s HOT in here! Turn up your air conditioning!’ (It always amazes me that people don’t say ‘I’M hot’ but rather ‘IT’s hot’, as if that is a fact’.) Then would come the look of HORROR when I would say ‘Sorry…we don’t HAVE air conditioning.’ As the years went by, the reactions became more indignant…and…THIS year…my boss gave in! We now have air conditioning. I told him that I would likely need to quit. He PROMISED me that he would keep it at 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). It is now a battle between me and the other secretary (who is all of 22, from Russia, and would be happy in an igloo). So…why am I discussing air conditioning when the sky is falling in? Well…it got me thinking…
The ink was still wet from the signing of the now infamous Oslo ‘peace accords’ when we arrived in the country, ‘green off the boat’, in 1994. At our first visit to the Western Wall, just a day after arriving, we watched the then King of Jordan, King Hussein, fly his private jet over the temple mount in a first official ‘visit’ since the war for Jerusalem! And what was ‘the word’ of promise given to Israel by the international community? ‘With this ‘peace’, you will now have ‘Prosperity’ (I use a capital ‘p’ here because that became an international ‘holy word’, spoken with authority to Israel and backed by ‘empty promises’…a carrot to turn Israel away from her calling…her calling to ‘come unto God’.)
As we looked on, full of culture shock, we witnessed the change of an era. Donkeys gave way to cars (Oh, not everyone had donkeys when we came but there were a whole lot more of them, and a lot less cars for sure!) just as fans disappeared and air conditioning took over. Cell phones appeared everywhere…even where land lines hadn’t yet arrived. The amazingly generous spirit began to become more materialistic as prices spiraled up and merchants and landlords would say with smiles, ‘The Peace is bringing Prosperity!’ Socialism (the form of socialism that was here worked very well –NOT the malignant kind that many of us look at with concern -…it was wonderfully compassionate and balanced) bowed to privatization of much of the public sector…and prices continued to rise, while the only wages that were rising were of those in big business, high tech or represented by large labor unions. The social gap began to widen dramatically and widely. Indeed…the price of electricity rose another 10% this week!
And…just seven years into our ‘adventure’…the buses ‘moved over’ and the first of countless ditches were dug for our ‘Lite Rail’! Some of you might remember some of my early letters raving over our efficient and inexpensive (if not quaint) public transportation system. I was amazed at how well it worked (and thus began my ‘on the bus’ letters). As you know, my 25 minute commute to work became a 90 minute grueling battle…twice a day. Well, our ‘lite rail’ is scheduled to begin next Friday the 19th of Aug. Today’s paper told us that there are ‘still some snags’ and ‘at the beginning’ we can expect some ‘delays…of up to 3 hours’! They informed us, however, that since it is August, MOST PEOPLE are ‘on vacation’ so ‘not many’ will be inconvenienced…As one of the ‘not many’…oy!
I think about the fruit of lies. Surely this ‘peace’ and ‘prosperity’ is a lie. My darling Granddaughter told a lie to her Mom yesterday and received her appropriate punishment. When she told me about it I told her that she was blessed to have such a good Mom who would remind her how bad a lie is and I asked her if she knew WHERE lies come from…who is the father of lies. “No Savtali (my beloved Grandma), who is the father of lies?” I answered “h’satan” (the devil). “He is the one who invents a lie and suggests it to our hearts, but with Yeshua in our hearts we don’t need to give into his temptations.” Her eyes grew huge and a visible shiver ran through her, so, remembering that she is only five, I quickly continued “BUT…The GOOD news is that Abba God is The Father of The Truth and He will help us to love the Truth and hate lies, if we ask Him!” She listened solemnly and I was thankful for her tenderness. The world around her loves lies though…the world around each of us. The lie of the peace which has a foundation in humanism and not in God’s Word and plan is a lie that is beloved. Who does NOT WANT PEACE?? In a way it is like what has happened to God’s institution of marriage: who does not want love? It is ‘love’ that is important (the world says)…not the pattern for Love that was given to us from heaven. Just like ‘peace’. I am so thankful that He gave us His pattern for Peace…for Love…for all that is good for us. Perhaps sometimes, like Saul who was afraid to wait any longer for Samuel, we think God is taking too long and maybe we didn’t understand His instructions and had better ‘do it ourselves’… ‘take charge’…build the tower of Babel…
I so don’t want these words to be depressing, I want to edify! They are ‘thoughts in a changing time’. Thoughts about how important it is that we find HIS path through, in His balance, when things are intense.
We have all received our new ‘Citipass’ cards now. This is a ‘nifty card’ with our picture on it…it is ‘free. It is a ‘smart card’ so that we can purchase credits for both the bus and the lite rail and it is simply scanned when we get on. Shortly our paper monthly pass or ‘punchy card’ will become extinct and this will be the only way to use public transportation. I haven’t used mine yet. Not being as adventurous as some (or perhaps being a bit more tired) I figured that it likely still had some ‘glitches’, so why not wait until the bugs were worked out of it. I noticed a few things right away; a woman got on the bus, obviously quite advanced in age, and scanned her card. Six and a half shekels were taken off…that is full fare. She should have been paying half fare. She questioned the driver and he said ‘Sorry! I can’t refund money…’ (I made a mental note to have my card checked) She was tolerant (or too surprised to say anything). Most people are these days….but not all! A large man was waiting for the bus with me yesterday. He was wearing a rather odd tee shirt. It said in English; “You say PSYCHO as if that were a BAD WORD!?!” I chuckled. ‘Must be a good natured guy’ I thought. WRONG! This was NOT humor…it was a WARNING! He scanned his card and began screaming and cursing (which I won’t quote!) that the card was garbage and whenever he scanned it a red light came on. The bus driver gently told him not to be upset and he tried it. A green light came on and he said ‘It is ok. You can pass.’ ‘NO!’ screamed the customer, ‘I’m NOT passing until this card shows ME green!’ At this point I was obliged to put my fingers in my ears and close my eyes. He held the bus up for a full10 minutes, cursing and screaming in English, and threatening to beat people up and shoot them! Rage of this sort is NOT common here! With life already difficult, people seem to major at calming one another. Two young English speaking men gently tried to calm him, but even with their strong gentleness, it took them all that time to draw him away from the door so that others could pass. It was the first time I have seen such a display on our buses. I remembered seeing such things in NYC many years ago. It made me very sad. “But the fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” (Gal 5:22)
And yet, some things HAVE remained the same. I chuckled as I said that to myself this morning, a little after 6am, I walked through the shuk to buy my challa (braided shabat bread) before the ifi prayer meeting. I walked behind a man pushing a bread cart. Loaves fell off onto the filthy walkway…and he picked them up and put them back on the cart, which he was wheeling to a stand. Yes…we have developed strong stomachs and immune systems through it all!
And, even after 17 years, there continue to be new experiences for us as immigrants. Since we immigrated when our youngest daughter was already nearly in high school, we had no experience with the lower grades until our Grandchildren began school. Our Grandson was in kita aleph (first grade) last year, and we decided that the purchasing of his school supplies and books would be our responsibility and blessing. (During the years that we were raising our children in ‘the old country’, our younger one was homeschooled most of the time, and our older daughter as well, for one year, but she didn’t take to it as well. Once we immigrated, we understood how important it would be for our daughter’s absorption into the new country to go to public school, learn in Hebrew (which I couldn’t help her with), learn the history and ways of our new land and my faith was encouraged by something I had read in Richard Wurmbrand’s testimony…that the strongest believers were made in the wicked universities of USSR…because their faith was TRIED! It enabled me to trust our children to Him when our paths needed to take a turn that I didn’t want to take) I don’t know about many of the countries that some of you live in, but in America school books were free. Here they are not. But how much can it cost to buy books for a first grader and a second grader? (kita aleph for our Granddaughter and kita bet for our Grandson) I proudly brought the list provided by the school to our local ‘chickchack’ store and presented it to the shop keeper; “It’s for our Grandkids” I smiled. “I’ll give you a call in a week to 10 days when it is ready” she told me. The call came this week (THANKFULLY, the same day that a gift ALSO came! The Lord is SO in control!) “The school supplies are ready. They come to 895 shekels.” I nearly dropped the phone. Some people have 10 kids or more. How do they DO it! I know that there are ‘helps’ around, so it is a matter of finding how that works. It is at times like this that I remember the ‘helpless’ feeling of being an immigrant. So many basics that we still don’t understand even after 17 years. But we are pilgrims on this earth and it is my focus that must stay clear on HIM and not on the cares of this world…those He has promised to take care of for me. It is a balance that I battle to keep.
This morning I read in Psalm 96: “Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before The Lord. For He is coming…” Those words excited my heart as my husband and I left for a shabat walk in the Jerusalem forest. These words were written concerning the very trees that we were walking among and I wanted to ‘rejoice with them’. I had forgotten about the forest fire that took place here just several weeks earlier and so was taken aback as we entered the burn area and I saw a graveyard of trees. My heart sank! I was meditating about the trees rejoicing, and here they were dead! I lifted it before The Lord and thought of the verse in Isa 55: “You shall go out with JOY…” Keep a THANKFUL HEART IN ALL THINGS came to my mind…go out with JOY. We passed through the burn area and my husband drew my attention to the path that we were on (one I hadn’t walked on before) and some stone walls that we were walking past. “These must be thousands of years old” he said. “I wonder why they were built? This was probably the road up to Jerusalem in the old days.” He was right. “If that is the case, then the people traveled this road for all of the feasts and they would sing the Psalms called ‘Shir h’ma’a lot’’ I said. “What does that mean?” he asked. “Shir means ‘song’ and ma’a lot means ‘going up’, ‘aliyah’ is from l’ah’loat’…to go up. These were the Psalms written to meditate on and to sing during the journey up to Jerusalem’, I explained to him. We both thought about that as a donkey began braying off to our right, down in Ein Kerem, the town where John Baptist was born. It is very peaceful in the forest and my husband and I have often talked about it not being so bad if we ever lost our apartment and had to pitch a tent there. We began passing some old bunkers carved into the rock near some caves where weapons were stored during some of the many wars for Jerusalem…most likely since 1948. As we were talking about living there we were startled to see an older man sitting silently in a cave with a few clothes and blankets neatly piled and some cooking pots nearby. He is the first person I have seen taking to the woods to live since I am here. We had neither food nor water with us, but will try to go back with some for him. I made another mental note as we re-entered our apartment, to be thankful whenever I entered my doors. Surely He Who provides for the birds of the air has provided all that we have and deserves to be thanked at all times. I remember reading about a brother who was serving God in a jungle and had been attacked and stripped of even his clothing. As he was running for his life he stopped and began to worship God and to thank Him that God was able to trust him with NOTHING. That made a great impression on me!
So I entered this apartment worshiping Him. HE HAS LEAD US ALL THE WAY!
My husband must have another heart catheterization this week…this coming Thurs. Perhaps you remember that he had a serious heart attack on the 7th of Feb and had a stent put in his heart then. I am asking for prayer for him…that he will take it seriously and seek to be restored with The Lord. I also ask for continuing prayer for our younger daughter. Thank you so very much! And thank you for taking the time to read all of this and to share with me your own hearts, as I share mine with you.
Thank You Lord, for your body…the expression of Yourself on earth!
Lovingly, your sis in Jerusalem

ani b’derek

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 6:14 am  Comments Off on Inside Israel – Of Buses and Lite Rails and Forests and Praise  
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