I believe a Spiritual Marker is a physical or experiential event set up as a reminder of one’s experience with God. I see it as a defining experience that sets you along a path to drawing closer to God. It is developing a closer and growing relationship with the Father.
This week has been reminding me of a profound experience I had in visiting the Holy Land, Israel, exactly 3 years ago this week. First off with tensions in the Middle East being what they have been, I was a bit apprehensive about going. But in doing so I knew that I had to have faith and trust that my travels would be safe and I had to let my faith rule out my fear.
One of the best outcomes of visiting Israel was in searching for the footsteps of Christ. Once I got there, I expected it to happen, but it did not, right away. We visited some of the sites of the Old & New Testament, and in a lot of places, tourism had taken its toll and it bordered on just being superficial touristy residuals of a deep and profound history. I was disappointed in seeing church after church built over historical sites. And even stated to my traveling companions, that I could not find Christ because of the ornate, structural churches, the vendors and the crowds. Tourism had definitely had an impact on the sites.
But as I journeyed throughout Israel, and read my Bible relating to the local history, and even had devotions at the various stops, I began to feel the presence of God in so many ways. It was often a feeling stirring within me as I looked in wonder and imagined the stories from the Bible relating to the area. I began to start seeing not only with my eyes in the here and now but with my mind and heart on those times long ago.
Sailing on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, I imagined Jesus preaching on the hillside, and walking along the shore line. I imagined him walking on water, and imagined him calming the waves by saying “Peace be still.” A deep feeling of peace, calm and serenity enveloped me so much that even now, my eyes well with tears in remembrance.
Standing in the Upper Room, I could imagine the feelings throughout the room when Jesus last meal was spent with the disciples. I imagined the table where they reclined around it sharing the last supper.
Standing in the lower chamber of Caiaphias’ palace where Jesus spent his last night between trials was extremely moving. And as I sat outside the remnant of the palace and overlooked the Mount of Olives in the distance, I could only imagine that night when Jesus was arrested and brought before so many in trial after trial throughout the night.
Walking the Via Delarosa, shutting out the vendors and sellers, and concentrating on the road where Jesus carried the cross was an unbelievable experience. There were stations along the way that described in detail Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Standing on the cliff overlooking the Plain of Meggido, where Christ will triumph over Satan in the final battle of Armageddon, left me breathless.
All the distractions were there at each site, the crowds, the vendors and the noise, but within me change was occurring. I cannot explain it if I tried, but in visiting Israel, something awoke deep within me. A feeling of being home, a belief in knowing that this will not be the last time there. And now when I open my Bible, it is with clearer eyes.
I have an awakening within me, in telling everyone about God’s Mercy and Grace and His wonderful gift of Salvation, freely offered to all who will believe. If you ever get an opportunity to go, I would encourage you to go. It will forever leave an imprint in your memory and on your heart.