Prayers for Israel and Palestine: “Galilee Mentality”
Israel and Palestine are in my prayers these days after news of a shooting on the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif and heightened security measures. I visited the Temple Mount for the first time this summer on a trip to Israel.
Our guide on the trip shared a helpful bit of regional geography that linked to a spiritual analogy. She said that the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are both fed by the Jordan River.
What’s different about them? The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth. It has little to nothing living in its waters due to the high salinity. Why is the salt content so high? There is no outlet for the water and it can only evaporate- leaving the salt behind.
In contrast, we visited the Sea of Galilee. The minute we arrived I could see people boating, swimming and playing.
I didn’t run a water test but I can say that after swimming in both the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee that the water was fresh and more pleasant in the latter. Geographically, the Sea of Galilee flows back into the Jordan River, allowing the water to cycle through and be fresh.
Though both bodies of water are fed by the same source, only the Sea of Galilee allows the water to flow in and out. It’s interesting that the Dead Sea region is depicted in the Bible through the Old Testament story in Genesis 19 when Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt as they leave Sodom as the angels had admonished Lot to not look back. This brings new meaning to the popular expression for being angry, “She’s salty!”
On the other hand, the Sea of Galilee is referenced to endlessly in the New Testament with records of healing and storms stilled. I’ve learned through reading the gospels that inspiration comes from God and is expressed outwardly to help calm people’s fears and heal.
What’s the point? We may be at the lowest point in our life and we may be looking backwards like Lot’s wife but we can’t flourish in this gridlocked mentality. In contrast, we may be ready to walk on water or heal the sick but we must acknowledge our source as God or we will quickly run dry.
I love this verse from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal:
Hymn 360:2 “Is the heart a well left empty? None but God its void can fill; Nothing but a ceaseless fountain Can its ceaseless longings still. Is the heart a living power? Self-entwined its strength sinks low; It can only live in loving, And, by serving, love will grow.”
It hit me. In life, if we don’t express or allow the good we receive to flow back out and on to the next person we are becoming stagnant and dead.
In addition, if we are only giving and giving from a human and not a divine standpoint or with a recognition of our divine, universal, and unceasing source, aka God, we will run dry and be tired.
The early Christian, James, called all followers of Christ not just be a hearer of the word but a doer. “…be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
Don’t just soak up the Truth for your own pleasure but give it, live it and share it freely.
I remember when I was a few years out of college. A dorm director position opened up for me at the boarding school where I was teaching. My prayers and guidance from God felt confident and clear that this was a great post for me. It was great. I loved the students and my colleagues. The work felt purposeful and it was an outlet for my desire to create community and nurture others. Yet, midyear I remember thinking, “Whoah! I am running 24/7. I am not even 30 and I have a family of 20 people for whom I am responsible. This is not normal! This is too much. The stakes are high!”
On the heels of that same feeling of being overwhelmed was the voice of God reassuring me, “Hey! I brought you to this place of giving. I will sustain you just like the children of Israel in the wilderness. I will be with you.”
I felt that divine conviction of being brought into the work of being a dorm director and felt sustained by God right through it. The impasse of doubt and feeling overwhelmed abated. The work definitely prepared me for future work and being a parent.
No doubt, the same Truth that God is our source and our giving is divinely supplied applies to the conflict over the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif. God is speaking to each person. Jews, Muslims and their brothers and sisters around the world like you and me hear God. God loves and sustains each person. Our roots and heritage is one of Love and devotion to one loving God not conflict and suspicion. We show our love for God through pure prayer and daily actions that heal. Allow compromise. Yield to God. Allow fresh solutions and non-tribal mentality. “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?”