I stood on top of Elijah’s hill where it is believed his ascension to heaven took place. I looked at the cave that is believed to be a place where John the Baptist lived. I caught a view of the wilderness around as it was when John lived and Elijah ascended. I saw where Jacob wrestled with an angel and his name was changed to Israel. I looked out at the view of the promised land as Moses once did atop of Mt. Nebo. I walked by the Jordan River and saw the baptismal site of Jesus-the birthing of Christianity. I connected deeply with Jesus as a man who once walked the earth. It is important to learn and understand the heritage of faith as a follower of Jesus Christ. The most amazing part of all that I have mentioned is that these encounters took place in a nation where Christianity is a minority and their neighboring nations are seeing Christians killed.
To be in that part of the world would seem to be a scary and dangerous thing to do these days-yet I felt safe. Even more, I felt freedom. Jordan is safe for a Christian-not easy, but safe. While there may be social persecution or pressure, Christians are accepted and encouraged to come and see the history of their faith. I didn’t expect to encounter the person of Jesus Christ in such a profound way as I did. To walk where he walked and learn the culture of his time in a deeper way connected me to the man who lived and died so I could be free.
I couldn’t stop thinking about freedom everywhere I went in Jordan. I knew I wasn’t experiencing freedom because Jordan was safe, I was experiencing freedom because every piece of history from the bible that we explored was a reminder of the reason I exist.
As I reflected on the reason of my existence as a daughter of God, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmingly aware that I come from a nation that freely allows me to worship God openly and share of Jesus to anyone I meet. I can go out my front door right now and tell everyone of Jesus and I won’t be arrested or be killed. I have that freedom. I teared up a bit at the Jordan River, not for nostalgia and the thought of Jesus being there but because of the reason he came. And standing in the place that most likely He stood, gave me chills. It was real-his life, death and resurrection, it was real. It had a purpose and it was not just a story for Easter.
On one of our final days, I had a quiet moment alone on top of the Castle where John the Baptist was held prisoner and later killed. I looked out to the vast hillsides and the serenity around me. Then a gentle breeze blew and a still small voice reminded me-freely you have received, freely give.
I had a lot of ideas and guesses as to why God had purposed for me to go to Jordan but I never would have guessed that it was to get truly acquainted with Jesus. We claim to know him, we sing about Him in our church services. A few weeks ago, churches everywhere in America celebrated His sacrifice but do we know Him? His life, His culture then and now? Do we know how to portray Him to a world He died for? To be a follower of Jesus means to be acquainted with all of His ways-your identity mirroring His. Can that be said of me? I want it to be the thing that defines my life-a follower of Jesus.
Our guide Raed gave us these parting words: “The world is starving for love and true friendship. We must recover Christianity because Christianity is suffering. Let’s love the world.” Raed knows all too well the suffering of Christianity, please read this interview with him here.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Jesus changed history forever for you and me. He made a way for all of us to change the world through a message of radical love. I am challenged in my display of His love. I want to love better, I want to love well. I want to be Jesus with skin on to everyone I meet.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11