I wake up every morning hearing my 80 year old Iraqi aunt praying her Jewish prayers, "Baruch ata adonai elohenu..." (Bless you lord our God...) My best friends are two Arab Christians. I'm not allowed to tear toilet paper on Friday or Saturday because or Jewish practices. I starve myself everyday because I know how much my family here will stuff food down my throat if I have eaten or if I haven't eaten... Literally, tonight I ate dinner 3 TIMES! And all three times I said I wasn't hungry! Imagine if I said that I was. I go to school everyday overlooking the hill where Jesus was crucified. I look to the east and see biblical places lining the horizon... The Jordan River, Jericho, etc... I see more men with long hair walking down the streets than I see women who actually show their long hair. I hear at least 4 languages every single day. I live in a highly controversial area between Israel and the West Bank. I hear more people who don't believe/hate Jesus than who actually recognize Him as a living human being.
Yes, this is my new life.
It doesn't seem to really hit me until I write it all down. Somehow within all that there is all my studies, learning about my family, my Jewish culture, screaming in to my pillow, looking at things so ancient their stories describe their antiquity better than their dates.
So yes, there is a lot of change going on in my life. God is really stripping me down to the bare bones of what I believe and why. In peru, the only thing constant in my life was the Bible, in Israel people will debate you even on that. So what does that leave me with?
And I guess that is what God asks of me. Today I got to thinking what the real meaning of believing something is. And although I will probably make you more confused than actually get my point across, I will try to tell you a short version.
Belief is not factual. Belief isn't a yes or no. Belief is knowing something more than if it were factual, more than if it were shown to exactly where it came from. It is being able to be put in whatever circumstance in the world, and still carry out those same practices. It is something that doesn't just take over your mind, but your soul. It becomes such a part of you that you are defined by it.
I think that is a lot what God means when Paul says, "it is no longer I that live, but Christ that live through me." He (Christ) is now the definition of me. Belief does that.
I have never been much of a reader... Not that I am against it, but I have always felt like... If i am going to read, I want to be spiritually fed and be reading the bible. Little did I know that whilst reading my devotional that my grandma gave me, "none but the hungry heart,"by miles Stanford it talks just about that. We can be the smartest men in the world, reading all the books of the world... But they will not add an ounce to "the Christ within."
But does that mean we should flee from "knowledge." I don't think so. But I believe, especially after living here, that academic knowledge is a good thing, but, it cannot define you. If you let yourself be purely academic you will not be able to have faith. Faith is something that relies on not being academic. God didn't give us the answer exactly because He wanted us to search for Him, to yearn for Him, to choose Him!
But in being here I have realized that the world relies on academics... The world relies on answers... So I do see a benefit of being academically trained. And that benefit would be being able to meet people where they are at. Being able to be a light unto the nations being in the world but not of it.
So... Remember, in seeking truth, God will show you the answer if you search with your whole heart. But, in seeking truth, seek with your heart... And not your eyes. Because, well, for one, that it says, if we seek with our whole heart, but also because if we deny what our hearts are saying... If we allow them to grow cold and be covered by what modern men have said... We will never find what Gods word is truly saying. Because if you believe, you believe that Gods word is written on the Hearts of men. It isn't written in a science or archaeology book... But deep inside of you. So SEEK IT! And you will find.
Israel is trying very hard to pull me in and spit me out... But somehow, through all the pressure I should feel, god has kept me stable and at peace. Pray for Israel!