“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Matthew 4:19 NIV
In a previous post, I told you traveling to Israel had been my deep desire since I was a teenager. I couldn’t figure out the tug I felt whenever I heard someone talk about a trip to Israel until a few years ago when a minister said, “Christians don’t go to Israel to take a vacation. They go to make a pilgrimage.”
Pilgrimage is defined as a long journey made to a sacred place as a quest to pay homage: This definition pretty well sums up my experience. Our recent trip to the Holy Land was a profound experience—on both a spiritual and ongoing practical level—for me. I know others in our group felt similarly.
Because I know me, I anticipated there would be a day during this ‘pilgrimage’ when I would experience an emotional meltdown. Actually, there was more than one, but the first occurred Tuesday, September 27th. A little before 8 a.m. our group walked the short distance from the Nof Ginosar Kibbutz Hotel to the Sea of Galilee where we boarded a fishing boat called “Faith.” A cadre of seasoned fishermen, including the boat’s captain, Daniel Carmel greeted us. (Note: The Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake, approximately 33 miles in circumference, about 13 miles long and 8.1 miles wide.)
I love this picture of Sarah, a lovely lady in our group, worshipping on the Sea of Galilee
Daniel is Jewish by birth. After leading numerous Christian groups on tours of the Galilee, he believed Jeshuah was indeed the Messiah many of his fellow countrymen still await. My journal entry described Daniel as “a lovely and lively man, probably mid to late 40’s or early 50’s, weathered and ruggedly handsome.” I thought many of the men who fished these same waters in similar-appearing boats when Jesus lived in this region must have looked a lot like Daniel. I imagined Jesus hopping on to Daniel’s boat, hollering, “Hey, friend, take me out a ways so I can teach these folks without being mobbed.”
As Daniel pulled away from shore, he told us a few weeks earlier, Hillsong filmed a live video of “Oceans” at sunrise from his boat. The strains of the beautiful song accompanied us as Daniel navigated from the shore into the depths of the water. (Note: I hope you’ll watch this amazing “Oceans” Youtube video production.)
I listened to the beautiful words and melody of “Oceans,” and waves of emotion lapped over me. Tears streamed down my cheeks. For a brief second only, I considered my makeup was being ruined—and at the beginning of the day no less!
My silent prayer formed naturally. The conversation I had with Jesus felt real, intimate in spite of the presence of about 40 other people on the boat.
Jesus, I can’t believe it! This is the very sea upon which you sailed. You calmed the frightening storm and walked on waves churning on these waters. From these same shores you recruited your trusted friends and disciples.
What do you want to say to me today, Jesus?
My first reaction to the still, small voice whispering into my spirit, “Come. Follow me.” was to argue, “But, I’m already doing that, Lord.”
“Come, follow me.” The three words, echoing in my heart that morning are the same words with which Jesus invited Peter, James, John and Andrew more than 2000 years earlier.
These three words were familiar, but I’d never much considered their significance. While sailing on the Sea of Galilee in a fishing boat christened “Faith,” I realized with keen clarity the invitation to “Come!” to” Follow!” is one that’s ongoing. Jesus’s disciples must have considered those words often in days they traveled with their teacher and into the years following Christ’s death, resurrection and return to Heaven.
Yes, each day, the Spirit of Jesus beckons, “Come, follow me.”
September 27, 2016, while on the Sea of Galilee, I asked,
“What do you want to say to me today, Jesus?”
The answer I received that day prompts me to consider this day, December 1, 2016, yet another question.
“How do you want me to follow you this day, Jesus?”
Blessings on our journeys as we learn how to best follow Jesus every day…
Our group preparing to head out on the Sea of Galilee
Daniel and Tod, both gifted musicians, lead our group in worship music.
- http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pilgrimage ↑
- Daniel is a gifted vocalist and leads worship from his boat. Watch him at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiaZvaSMNho ↑
- From Holy Ground Explorations Journal. Note: For more information about your own trip to Israel, we recommend highly Dan and Sharon Stolbarger, our group leaders. If this is a trip you’d love to make, check them out at http://holygroundexplorations.com/ ↑
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9GcyHpptMk ↑