Our next place to see was what we all anticipated the most about coming to Israel: Golgotha and the Garden Tomb.
We were greeted by attendants who clearly viewed their job as an opportunity to show Christ to anyone who came to view this place. There was no fee; they are supported by donations. They greeted the kids and gave them a small book to fill in as they followed the path, in order to learn about this place and what happened here. How can I explain it except to say that the Holy Spirit fills us supernaturally, and I could tell these folks had that.
The Scriptures drew me in, I photographed all of them.
We wound our way through the path, and then came to Golgotha.
No fanfare, just a simple rock that has lasted for 2000 years. It is now facing a simple bus parking lot. The light shines where the sunken eyes and nose are.
I found that I needed to linger there, so I stayed as my husband and children moved on to the tomb. I wasn't sure how I would feel or what I would think when I saw the place that Jesus was crucified. I didn't plan or prepare how I might respond. I wanted to see what God might say to me.
When I stood there, all I could think about was my unworthiness and His deep love. Literally, a track of my life began to run through my head. So many times I have disappointed Him, and yet somehow thought I was, in some small way, righteous on my own. But I found as I stood there, the track wasn't a guilt-ridden track, sinking me into a depression at just how miserably I've failed him, it was just a deep sense that He knows it all, and yet He still came to Golgotha. I find as I type this, it is hard to put into words what happened to my heart that day. I can say that He met me there. The path my thoughts took were supernatural, and I knew He was speaking to me. All of the verses, all of the things I tell my Bible students, all of the principles by which I want to live that say, "It's all Him. It's none of me." took on a deep, deep meaning in my life and touched my soul. And I just felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and humility.
I found it ironic that I basically hobbled to get there. Each step that long day through crowded streets was taken with a surgical boot the size of a ski boot. It was a struggle to keep up. I was out of breath. In pain. Leaning on the arms of others. But then I made it there, just as the sun was setting, and He met me there. He had been waiting there for me. It was a small picture of "me." I'm pretty much crippled all the time. Struggling, limping, incapable of meeting a standard of perfection. But He never moved away impatiently. He just waited there. And when I arrived, He basically showed me that the way to walk is to let Him carry me because His perfect righteousness is, somehow, through Someone, Jesus Christ, transferred to me. I fully realize there are friends reading this blog who do not have this. And I can only tell you that if that moment, there, alone with the Lord, is a small taste of heaven, I want to spend eternity there. And I want you to spend eternity there. Begin your journey! Limp to Him!
Another strange thing that happened in my heart was that for the first time in my entire life, at 42 years old, I felt that I was truly ready to go to Him. Of course, leaving behind my husband and kids all the people I love would be sad. But I just felt so connected to Him at that moment, that I agreed with Him that I would be ready, whenever He called. I remember a time or two in my life feeling panic at the thought of dying. Panic at what I would leave behind. But that changed that day. These are the lessons He spoke to my heart.
There was a small church group sitting on the pews, taking communion, so we joined them.
And then we proceeded on to the Garden Tomb.