What a trip. Weâ€™re back home and feeling the effects of our travels. (I thought this jet-lag thing was a myth!) Our dream to go to the Holy Land has been fulfilled, and it was everything we hoped.
As we have returned home, the question we keep hearing is, â€śWhat did you like most?â€ť It is a tough question indeed. It is very similar to the question, â€śWhich of your children do you like best?â€ť (Or least, depending on whether you have teenagers.)
I loved Galilee and Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane, Capernaum and the BYU Jerusalem Center where highlights. I loved seeing the topography, which took me a bit by surprise. (It is very hilly, even mountainous. I have a new appreciation for Paulâ€™s travels, not to mention Mary and Josephâ€™s trek to Bethlehem.)
I loved learning more about Islam. I have studied the religion before and even own a copy of The Koran, but to be in the heart of it was a huge blessing. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are closer in faith than we sometimes understand, and their devotion to the recitations of the Prophet Mohammad should be admired. I loved the temples of Karnak in Egypt and seeing, in hieroglyphics, some of the ceremonial practices that exist today.
One thing that struck me in particular was what I didn't feel. I didnâ€™t have any sort of "pentecostal" experience or angels singing as I walked the streets Jesus walked. Donâ€™t get me wrong, it was wonderful and it felt great. I had the same feelings I have when I attend a spiritual sacrament meeting, when I read truth, when I serve others and when I offer real prayers. I felt the same love I feel for Jill and my boys, for my friends and extended family. I felt the same desire to do better as I feel when I hear the good things people do or attend a funeral.
My point is that we donâ€™t have to travel to the Holy Land to have the same spiritual experiences or feelings of love and faith in Christ. We can have them every day and at the same intensity right here, where we live. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about location or geography. It is about our hearts, who we are and what we do. It is about faith and love for Christ and what he has done for each of us. No matter where we are physically (Molalla or Jerusalem) or spiritually (a deep hole of depression or the best of times) the love of Jesus is there, too. He is truly the Great â€śTravelingâ€ť Physician.
Troy Parker lives in Molalla, Ore., with his wife, Jill, and two sons. He blogs at troygparker.wordpress.com.