“As is your name, O God, so is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness. Let Mount Zion be glad, let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments. Walk about Zion and go around her; count her towers; consider her ramparts; go through her palaces, that you may tell it to the next generation. For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.” (Psalm 48:10-14)
Members of our church traveled to Israel a few weeks ago for a journey of a lifetime, experiencing adventures beyond what we had anticipated. Standing beneath the majestic dome of St. Anne’s church situated beside the ancient Pool of Bethesda, our voices resonated like a professional choir, surprising us all. When half our team walked into the Jordan River to be baptized, we applauded and celebrated their amazing milestone. We giggled as we floated in the Dead Sea and cried as we sang hymns on a wooden boat in the center of the Sea of Galilee. We gazed with longing across the Galilean hills at the hometown of Jesus of Nazareth while the winds whipped and whirled around us.
After exhausting days of crisscrossing the countryside and an overload of profound information from our Israeli tour guide, we were privy to a free day to explore Jerusalem. My husband Bill knew the layout of the city well and volunteered to lead the trek across this fascinating place. Bill wore his orange baseball cap so we could easily identify him as we ambled along, and we began the day ascending the steps by the famous Jaffa Gate to walk the ramparts of the old city walls. We made our way through the busy, narrow streets of the marketplace, spent quiet time at the Jerusalem Prayer Center, and even learned a bit of Hebrew along the way. Bill navigated the shortcuts, prodded us forward to capture the best vistas, slowed his pace and lent his arm so one of our friends could catch up. When one member of our group inadvertently turned the wrong way, Bill calmly found where he was, retraced his steps, and reunited our friend with the team.
Whenever crowds converged around us or we encountered a tricky turn in the road, Bill would lift his right hand high above his head and wave his cap, allowing us to follow confidently. He was familiar with the streets, made certain we arrived at our destinations, and even paid the ticket price for the rampart’s admission. When a respite was essential for our weary feet and parched throats, he covered the cost of the cold drinks as well.
Later, in the comfort of our hotel, I glanced at the photos capturing the day’s highlights and discovered a priceless souvenir. Bill’s leadership throughout the day was a visual of the Lord as our Guide. Christ stands with us, his right hand raised, providing protection, covering, and direction for his flock. He doesn’t just point out the way we should go, but he travels with us, allowing us to experience the best views, the safe paths, and the dangers to avoid. Through his Word we hear his voice explaining that he is with us; he will lead us safely, securely, purposefully through our rugged roads, unfamiliar pathways, cobblestones. If we choose the wrong direction, he patiently, lovingly, calls to us and leads us back to the place he designed for us all along.
We have nothing to fear. The Lord is our good Guide. All the details of our journey are perfectly under his control. As he leads, we follow. Christ will always direct us clearly one step at a time, all the way to the end of this adventure we call life. And into the one that lies beyond, as well.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell