I had visited Israel as a teenager with my parents. And although I found it very interesting and it even made me feel this Jesus Christ I had heard about throughout my life could actually be real, I wasn’t moved spiritually because I was not born again. I became a born again Christian in 1995 as I rededicated my life to Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade. I married in 1999 and my husband and I happily settled into family life, having three children.
My husband is also a born again Christian and loves to travel. He listens to a variety of pastors and ministries and he came to me in 2018 and said: “Pastor Jonathan Cahn is taking a trip to Israel. Would you like to go?” Wow, I thought. What about the kids? At that time, all home schooled teenagers. And he said, “we would take them too.” My first thought was for their safety. There had been so much in the news of threats of attacks it made me afraid. But, then I thought, what an amazing experience for them. And for me, being born again, it was something I actually had secretly dreamed of. As Jesus was now my personal Lord and Savior, I longed to go back to walk where He walked.
So, we booked the trip. And as it came closer to our date to leave, and I read of more concerning stories in the news, I started having doubts. But, I decided I would trust God with this. And like every other time I have trusted God, I did not regret it. It was truly the trip of my life.
Every stop we made was a deeply moving experience as Pastor Cahn shared his vast understanding of Jewish tradition (he was born a Jew, and became a Christian) and the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was connected to each place, beautifully and meaningfully told with a message to encourage us as Christians.
On one of the last days of the trip, we had an amazing walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, at the end we stopped at the “Southern Steps” and there we heard the beautiful message of “Aliyah.” These very steps we were sitting on were where Jesus walked up many times to the Temple. It felt so good to sit down after a long day of walking up many hills and pathways. And as Pastor Cahn shared “Aliyah,” my spirit was moved and lifted.
The Hebrew word “Aliyah” literally means ascending up. It is used as a term for Jews immigrating back to Israel. And in terms of the city itself, to go to the temple, you had to go or walk up to reach it. In Christian terms he told us it means ascending up on our journey with Christ. Always moving forward, not looking back. Choosing Spirit over flesh. With each decision we make to choose Spirit, whether it be to keep our mouth closed when we are tempted to gossip, or forgive someone when we’d rather hold a grudge, or praise God when we’d rather complain for example. Each time we choose Spirit over flesh, we are growing closer to God.
I was so moved that I wrote a song. It’s called “Aliyah.” It’s important to remember that it isn’t our works that bring salvation, He came down for us. But, as we walk in the Spirit, we are growing stronger in our faith, closer to God and we will have the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. God gives us the power to walk in the Spirit. This is the song “Aliyah!”
If you ever get a chance in this life to go to Israel, I would highly recommend it. Never have I felt more at “home” on this earth than I did there. I really wanted to stay and I long to go back. Taking communion in the Garden of Gethsemane, being baptized in the Jordan River, singing worship songs at the Eastern Gate, forever will live in my heart. And I pray it is an experience that our children will hold in theirs.
This song “Aliyah” is just one more way for me to remember the experience and to share the encouraging message I heard that day. And it is a good reminder for me today. This world as of late has been pulling me down. Hard. Yesterday, I had a wonderful day of choosing Spirit over flesh and I feel refreshed and invigorated today. Thank you Jesus! Aliyah!