I have to be honest. I don’t remember most of my birthdays.
I’ve never been a fan of too much attention, so I like to keep it simple. A nice meal (that I don’t have to cook or clean up), and my family surrounding me.
It’s quite a confession coming from a mom and nana that does everything possible to make sure her kids and grandkids know how special they are on their special day… does that make me an oxyMORON?!
There is one birthday I will never forget, though, and I just happened across a photo of it the other day when I was searching through some old pictures. I thought I would gift it to my readers that have never had the privilege of traveling to the land of the Bible.
Seeing the places of the Bible, walking where Jesus walked–experiencing first-hand what it might have been like 2,000 years ago–changed my perspective in a way that nothing else could.
One of the many highlights of this trip was on my birthday.
–excerpt from my personal journal dated 12/30/98:
We are travelling north on the via Maris (“way of the sea”) through the Sharon Valley (spoken of in Isaiah 35), a land area full of orange groves and farms.
As we leave the coastal region, we can see the hills of Samaria where the Israelites originally settled when Joshua led them out of the wilderness and into this land of promise…
From there we are headed to Caesarea by the Sea, (see Acts 10).
Our first stop in Caesarea is at the Roman Theatre. Caesarea was the center of Roman power in Israel during New Testament times, the home of Phillip, the city where Cornelius becomes a believer.
When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, the Roman soldiers brought Paul back to Caesarea into “protective custody” for 2 years, where he preached the gospel even to King Agrippa, the most powerful ruler of the day.
Next stop is Megiddo (Mt. Carmel) where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. On top of this hill you can see the valley of Megiddo–where you can experience the past (the story of Elijah), the present, and the future (the place where the Armageddon will occur [see Revelation 16:16]).
Not far from here is the city of Megiddo, built and rebuilt twenty-five times due to its strategic location along the Via Maris. It’s greatest days were in the time of Solomon–it was abandoned in 4 B.C., and never rebuilt.
Next, we enter Nazareth, which is a city of over 100,000 people.
We stop at a Baptist church here, and share a time of worship. We were privileged to hear the pastor share his testimony of God revealing Himself and calling him to preach the Good News.
After leaving Nazareth Baptist Church, we walked a few blocks to Mary’s Well. It was the old well that provided the water supply for the twenty-five or so families that lived there during Jesus’ day. We were standing at this well when the tour leader asked me to read the account of Mary’s encounter with the angel from Luke 1:28-38. It was a moving experience and definitely a birthday I will never forget. [Oh how I wish someone had taken a picture of that–but that moment will always be permanently seared in my mind.]
Traveling to other countries sure can change your perspective on the world–this trip changed more than that.
It changed me.
Not only did I experience the places of the Bible, I experienced the God of the Bible. He met me there. Everywhere I looked, I saw and felt His presence. He changed another young man’s life on that trip as well–my husband had the privilege of leading this young man in our group who was travelling with his grandfather to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
Hard to match a birthday like that!
I can think of no greater gift than this to pass down to my children and grandchildren. HIStory. Your story. How God has always been about the life-changing business. I am privileged to tell it.
Thanks for listening.
~~the birthday girl
“Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.
This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.”
Psalm 139: 1-6