As many of you know, I will be spending this spring semester studying abroad in Israel. When the possibility of studying abroad became the plan in fall 2011, I was blown away by how many people in my college and home community were excited with and for me. Several of my friends asked if I would be blogging while I was there. This blog, then, is for me and for you. It is for me as a tool for reflecting on my time and capturing memories, and it is for you because I want the meaning of my experience to reach beyond myself.
I have heard the Holy Land termed the “fifth Gospel” – that is, another testimony that brings God’s and Jesus’ work to life through geography, topography, geology, culture, language, archaeology… The list goes on. Israel today is a culturally diverse, linguistically saturated, politically complex, and historically rich environment. As I look forward to taking part in this, I am excited about daily experiences like feeling the dirt of the land under my feet, studying on-location in different regions, bartering in markets, chatting with and learning from Jews, Muslims, and Christians, building friendships with my peers, professors, and local shop-owners, and soaking up sunsets over Jerusalem. I am also expecting to have my heart broken and challenged as I continue to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reflect on years past and think about the years ahead. Whatever my glimpse of this “fifth Gospel” is to be, I would be honored to share it with you.
A note about my blog: I chose its title with the Hebraic metaphor of walking with God in mind; when the Hebrew Scriptures describe the patriarchs’ relationship with God, it is often said that they “walked with God.” To me, this paints a picture of intimacy, of a journey, and a keeping of pace – with his spirit and purposes. As I come into contact with the tangibility of this “fifth Gospel” – this terrain that I (a Biblical Studies major and Linguistics minor) have studied from a distance through the lenses of textbooks, photographs, commentaries, articles, and lectures – I want to continue to discover what it means to walk with God.
I leave tomorrow (Jan 26th), and with that I want to say “thank you” – to friends who have rejoiced with me and encouraged me; to members of my family who have supported my decision and provided for me; to professors who have brought the Scriptures to life for me and have helped prepare my mind and heart for this semester; for anyone in these groups who has taken time to pray for me; and to God, who I believe walked with our forefathers and to this day invites us to keep pace with him.
…Time to take a walk!
P.S. As I will have limited Internet in Israel and do not plan on using Facebook extensively during my time there, my e-mail and this blog will be the best ways to stay in touch.