Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Israel 2016 Day 1

I landed in Tel Aviv at 2:30 AM Saturday morning.  Prior to arriving in Israel, I had a 10 hour layover in Frankfurt. As far as airports go, all in all, the Frankfurt airport is not a bad place to spend 10 hours. 

After a two hour ride from Tel Aviv, my sherute (a taxi/van) dropped me off at the New Gate in the Old City. I was about three blocks from my hotel and the place was absolutely deserted! It was rather eerie walking down dark, narrow alleys in a strange city, hoping I was going in the right direction. The pavement was cobblestone, the walls looked ancient and there was no one to be seen anywhere. I thought Ali Baba and his forty thieves would come thundering around a corner at any minute, waving sabers in the air, all the townspeople hiding in their homes hoping the marauders would just pass through. 

Then I realized it was not only very early in the morning, it was Shabbat (Sabbath), a particularly quiet time in the city. I eventually crossed paths with a few quiet souls who did not acknowledge my presence, just quietly walked by. I found it odd that no one seemed to notice a sojourner dragging a suitcase and backpack through the deserted alleyways in the wee hours of the morning. I'm not sure if I felt left out and ignored...or comforted that no one was bothering me.

Nonetheless, I was able to check into my hotel, a very old looking building in close proximity to the markets and a stone's throw from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The man at the desk was a bit bleary eyed but very warm and inviting and went out of his way to help a very early and exhausted arrival.

The room is modest but exceptionally clean and the bed has a nice, hard mattress. There's just enough room for me to get comfortable. 

After a few hours sleep (sleep! I remember that!), I toured the hotel and took some pics. It'a quite a charming place, decorated to remind their guests that they are staying in an ancient city. 

Lounge in the lobby

Meeting Room

Reception Area

Here are some pics of the neighborhood around the hotel.
Intersection leading to the Armenian Market

Street the Gloria Hotel is on
While on a walking tour of the Old City, I visited the church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the tomb of Christ. I'll have some interior pictures later in the trip. For now, this is what the square in front of the church looks like. 

Here are some shots from the rooftop of the hotel. In the first picture, you can see the Mount of Olives in the distance. In the second, the walls of the Old City are prominent. 

Breakfast on Sunday morning was buffet-style with a distinctly Mediterranean accent to it. Lots of fruit, yogurt, humus, spreads, vegetables, meats, fish, sweet breads and...BACON!...*sigh* bacon, ever! You can ask Kelly about that one. It was excellent, even sans bacon. 

I went to sleep last night after heaving read about David's desire to build a house for God and being told that his son would build it instead (2 Sam 7). My room is less than a mile from where David got that news. Somehow, it helped me to relate to the story. 

I woke up with that passage on my mind, feeling sorry for David.

I originally thought, "How disappointed David must have felt!" Yet the Scriptures tell me of how thankful David was (2 Sam 17-29). I was having a hard time absorbing how David could sound so authentically grateful. Then I realized I had been trying to discern what was going on in David's mind in order to relate to the story and understand what it meant to me and my heart. 

I had to stop for a moment and consciously focus on a concept I have committed myself to, even when I'd rather not, "The Bible is about God, not me." It is the story of God and His self-revelation through the person and work of His only Son Jesus Christ. So, what was God revealing about Himself in this passage?

David wasn't disappointed because God in His infinite wisdom, gave him something far better than self-satisfaction in building his dream of a house for God. God gave him eternity. God, promising that David's throne would last forever, denied his desire to build the Temple but granted a far greater blessing. For that, David was grateful.

It made me wonder how often I focus on my personal disappointments failing to be thankful of what God has given me. 

I want to learn what David was learning, to praise God for what I have instead of grieve and gripe over what I don't have. I want to learn that God's plan is always better than mine and His blessings are far beyond what I can imagine in spite of the occasional disappointment or sorrow I encounter. If my focus is on Him, like David's was, my disappointments are temporary and my blessings are eternal. 


  1. It is good to see the sign showing the money changers are now outside where the temple was!

  2. Great photos thanks for bringing us along with you!

  3. Great photos thanks for bringing us along with you!

  4. I enjoyed your write up even more than the amazing photos! What a beautiful blessing.

  5. Ah, perspective. Where does my heart focus? The blessings abound, but how quick we are to forget them. Thanks for the reminder. Eternal salvation ... a great lifter of the heart and a wonderful reminder in worry as well. Why worry. In the end, nothing can take away our salvation (remember Paul's great reminder in Romans 8), nothing at all. We need not worry, we need not complain, we need only to remember and be thankful. Blessings as you continue your journey, brother.