GOING TO BLESS....GOT BLESSED!
Grace and I had arranged to visit the offices of ISRAEL365 in Beit Shemesh while we were in Jerusalem. As many of you know, after my Divine Appointment meeting with Rabbi Tuly and members of the staff in May, ISRAEL365 began to use some of our images on their sites. We wished to meet them face to face and encourage them in their work.
We were very warmly received and blessed by their joy and enthusiasm; and by their request to write about how we were led to decide to celebrate our 50th anniversary in Jerusalem. We do not know when they will publish their story, but felt we'd like to make what we wrote available to our readers directly:
Rick & Grace’s “50th anniversary in Jerusalem” story
Grace and I were 5 and 6 years old when Israel again became a sovereign nation in 1948, so we do not have distinct memories of the impact on us of this momentous watershed event.
The next watershed event in Israel’s history, the defensive war of 1967, found us at a stage in life where we might well remember, but did not have the sensitivity to Israel and world events that would have etched this event firmly in our memories.
However, although unaware at the time of a connection, in 1968 I selected to focus my MA thesis research on the Jewish Canadian poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen, who, incidentally, celebrated a noteworthy birthday recently. My research included Hasidic imagery and influence as seen in his writing; his song writing and singing career was just beginning; fellow Jewish Canadian poets also entered into the study as part of the context in which he was writing.
Hindsight makes me think that there was already more than a passing interest in Jewish thinking and arts. Since I learned later that my parents had a deep interest in Israel, arising out of their devotion to the Bible as God’s Living Word, I believe that awareness of Israel’s central significance in world events stirred in my subconscious mind, preparing to emerge at the right time, as it has done, quite forcefully, in recent years.
Our next direct encounter with Israel came in a 1982 sixteen day visit to the land; one of the three ancient civilisations, Egyptian, Israel/Jewish and Greek, that we toured in the six weeks between leaving Zambia, where I had a volunteer teaching position in the David Livingstone Teacher Training College for three and a half years, and arriving at home in Canada.
We knew at that time that we needed to be back in Israel; the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel, had inserted a hook into our hearts.
That return did not occur till thirty years later, in 2012, when, volunteering with Bridges for Peace, we lived and worked in Karmiel, Israel for two months, and then travelled in the country for another month.
This launched us into the “retirement” stage of life in which we sense a strong call from God on our lives to identify with and advocate for Israel.
We believe that in some mysterious way, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has made provision for Gentiles to be “grafted into”, to use the Apostle Paul’s phrase, the root of Abraham’s Faith, thus being joined together with the Descendants of Abraham in one people of God. So we love both the people and the land that God has chosen as His own.
Therefore, when we looked at celebrating God’s faithfulness in keeping Grace and I together in marriage for 50 years, we could not think of anywhere on earth that would be a better location than Jerusalem.
Then, as we continued our planning, we realised that our anniversary date, September 25th, fell on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruach, 1 Tishrei, on the Hebrew calendar. For us, this was an incredibly exciting discovery, and confirmation. We are here to blow the Shofar as a fresh calling for the remainder of our lives.
ISRAEL365 has been a source of inspiration and information for us for a number of years as a significant element in our awakening to the centrality of Israel in the unfolding of the Sovereign LORD’s Redemption Plan for the whole of Creation. We anticipated a visit to their Beit Shemesh offices, and were thoroughly pleased with the warm hospitality. Actually meeting face to face, shaking hands and hugging the writers and editors we had come to love and depend on for timely and accurate information was pure joy. Thank you so much.
We arrived in Israel on September 2nd and enjoyed the hospitality of Kfar Hanassi, a kibbutz near Rosh Pina, for a week; visiting Nimrod’s Fortress, Qatzrin, the Golan Heights Winery, Gamla and joining friends in a vineyard on the slopes of Mount Meron to harvest Shiraz grapes.
During the remainder of our time here, we expect to tour sites and meet people in Judea and Samaria, celebrate the High Holy Days in Jerusalem with friends and new acquaintances, share meals in the Sukkah and praise our God for His protection of Israel and for bringing us to this time and place.