Israel Study Tour - Rod VanSolkema

Jun 22 - Jul 4, 2014

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Chazaq – Grow Firm

Day 2 in Israel was sunny and BREEZY…which we are told is VERY RARE for June…and of course, our group was thankful for the breeze…that’s for sure! We started out the day with a yummy breakfast and having our entire group finally together…Rod and Libby were happy about that!

I think, without a doubt, today’s theme was: “chazaq” a Hebrew word which means to be or grow firm or strong, strengthen. Not only did a woman from our group wear a t-shirt with the word “chazaq” on it today, but while we were at the site believed to be in the vicinity where David encountered Goliath (Khirbet Quiyafa), young boys walked by Rod, while Rod was teaching, and loudly and passionately greeted Rod by saying, “chazaq.” It was timely! Rod was just teaching the group about David deciding NOT TO WEAR Saul’s armor to battle Goliath, but, instead, David chose to pick up stones to face Goliath…and how that showed a complete trust in God…and how trusting in God strengthens us…and when God strengthens us, we grow firmer…we are stronger…CHAZAQ!!

There are many instances throughout biblical history, and our own lives, when there were moments for us to be “stronger” …but we weren’t. We lacked CHAZAQ. We lacked trust in God. We went our own way. Perhaps there were too many distractions…or maybe just one really good distraction. During these times, God was calling us to wholeheartedly be committed to loving him…and serving him.

We visited a number of other sites today, including: The Caves of Adullam. It is believed David found refuge in these caves…and quieted himself before God…meditated…and wrote Psalm 57 and 142. I wish I could capture and share with you the smell, writings on the wall, the chirping of the birds, and the echoing which we experienced in the cave…and which could have been what David experienced while he was there. We met an archaeologist at Beth Shemesh who shared with us important findings which may be pointing to the time of Samson. We ended the day at Lachish, where Rod shared how King Hezekiah’s city was surrounded by the enemy…but Hezekiah went before God…tearing off his robes…and cried out to God for help! The Lord intervened and saved Hezekiah…and the city. And guess what Hezekiah’s name means?? THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH!! There is that word again…CHAZAQ!!!

There were questions Rod asked throughout the day…and they are still lingering in my mind.

If archaeologists were to dig up my life…our lives…what would they find? Would there be evidence of “good” things…or “not-so good” things? What does it mean for us to follow God? What would it take for us to completely trust God…and live each day like we trust Him?

We are spending tonight at hotel near the Dead Sea. The view is beautiful! We have the Dead Sea on one side and a huge wilderness/desert looking mountain on the other…it’s pretty intense!

Not entirely sure what Rod has planned tomorrow…but we are all learning how to trust a little bit more each day…and how to open our hearts and minds to seeing how God has been speaking to us throughout time…and how God is speaking to each one of us today.

by Susie Dixon

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