“Look to your left. There are more than 300,000 rockets pointed at us right now,” he said, as we stood at the edge of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.
Recently I was on a trip Israel with 29 other leaders with an organization called Israel Collective. It’s their vision to build vibrant relationships between American Christians and the people of the Holy Land.
On this particular day, we journeyed to the border with an anti-terrorism expert for both the Israeli and US governments.
“Now, look forward. There’s ISIS,” he pointed.
I tried to focus, but my heart kept thumping almost in unison with the subtle pop, pop, pop of the gunshots on the Syrian side.
My subconscious nagged, This is real. This is real. This cannot be real!
“Now, look to your right. There’s Hamas and more than 40 small terrorist groups. They all want to kill us,” he stated matter of factly.
Each day so many Middle Easterners and their children live with terror. Evil people live among the innocent, perpetuating a culture of fear and control.
And, as I listened, I couldn't help but feel... useless.
Maybe this feeling showed on all of our faces as he talked, because suddenly he shifted to address our dismay.
He let up on the facts and instead shared his own sentiment, "Einstein's words are true as it pertains to the Middle East, 'The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.'"
I suppose this statement was as comforting as a terrorism lecturer can get.
And, it's true. The more I learn, the more I don't know.
I don’t know why I get to live in a gated community where my children walk freely, while Syrian children are being gassed.
I don’t know why terrorists kill innocent people, while my government makes it more difficult for them to find refuge.
I don’t know what I can do about the fact that every country around Israel hopes to wipe them out.
It's all too big and too complex. But, I still do not believe this is a good reason to do nothing.
As with all big and complex issues, there's usually something in real life that can be done.
I learned a lot in 10 days from the Israeli people, but what stood out the most was how they live with terrorism, without living in constant terror.
@@Maybe the refusal to live in terror is the refusal of terrorism itself?@@
I found myself taking constant mental notes as I observed Israeli lives.
They showed me 3 powerful ways to overcome fear.
It’s no secret in Israel that rockets are being shot down from the sky throughout the day every day. Yet, on Saturday at homes throughout the region Jewish people observe the age-old tradition of Shabbat (or Sabbath.)
Shabbat is more like the movies than I expected… It's wonderful. The meal I attended was filled with warm bread, abundant foods, dancing, singing (Aye Yai Yai Yai Yai!), children chattering, and big laughs all around.
It almost felt other worldly. I couldn’t remember the last time I rested with such vigor!
Shabbat is a day of rest when they refrain from work and, with great enthusiasm, engage in restful activities to honor the day and God.
@@When we have troubles or even terror in life, taking rest is one way of saying, I don’t have to be in control, because God is.@@
Isaiah 41:10 says “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Rest is absolutely counterintuitive to me when I feel threatened. But, my rest opens the door for God’s strength to come into effect.
2. LOVE MORE PASSIONATELY
When death seems to lurk, this puts all of life into perspective.
I observed Israeli people throughout the cities of Jerusalem kissing their kids on their cheeks… Almost as if it was the last day they’d be with them.
Who knows, it could be our last day? Terrorism doesn't dictate death. In fact, we have little control over when our day comes.
@@We may not have the ability to control the length of our lives, but we do have the opportunity each day to control the depth and substance of it.@@
I felt inspired by the Israeli people to channel my fear into more love for my family and community.
1 John 4:18 says there isn't fear in love. But, instead love eradicates fear. Love is simply much more powerful.
The love John speaks of is God's love for us. He gives us the ability to overcome fear, and love more perfectly.
3. NAME YOUR FEAR
When terror has no name or face, then everyone and everything has the ability to become the face of terror in our lives.
There is power in naming our fear when it arises. By doing this, we gain the power to give the fear to God and live beyond it.
I saw this principle lived out in the life of a Christian pastor in Palestine.
He had regularly been beaten by radical Muslims in his area and his church targeted with grenades. When asked if he’s fearful for his life or the lives of his children, he gave a confident “no.” In fact, he said his love for his community was even bigger than before.
How can this be?
He choose not to dehumanize terrorists. Instead, he knows them by name and has allowed them into his life.
The courage and vulnerability this Pastor demonstrated was challenging to me.
I found myself asking... What is terrorizing my life? Who do I feel is working against me?
Just naming my fears and the people I feel threatened by has released me to invite the Supernatural into these situations and relationships.
Unnamed fear is also an indicator that I’ve lost my connectivity with God. When I feel connected to God in life, I tend to feel less threatened and more secure.
I'll forever be indebted to the Israeli people and Israel Collective for showing me what it looks like in the flesh to live amidst terrorism, while still living fully and with joy.
I’d like to challenge you this week. If you are facing fear in your life, search the Bible for the word “fear” and see what you find.
If you’d like a place to document your findings, I'd love for you to try the Real Life Journal. It will provide you practical help to connect with God in real life every day.
Be encouraged. We all face certain fears and we are all working through this issue together.
And, as always, I’d love to hear from you.