Last summer I spent three months in Jerusalem working in an architecture office. Many drawings of Jewish homes uniquely suited for the holy days, lunch-break shwarmas, and two terrorists attacks later, I found myself wondering how I could ever even attempt to be part of a society and culture who's heritage is so different than my own. The wondering caused me to feel lonely. As my heart ached for summer baseball games, cotton fields, and a non-kosher sausage biscuit, I realized that my homesickness was one of the greatest starting points for identifying with the nation that I had been grafted into by the blood of Messiah, and would soon journey with for the rest of my life.
“My heart is in the East [Jerusalem] and my body is in the extreme-West.” Laments Jewish poet and Rabbi Judah Halevi. Finding roots in Israel, but living scattered through out the Diaspora for approximately 2,000 years, the story of the Jewish people is one of great displacement. It is this displacement between longing for Israel and living in the Diaspora that Halevi speaks of. After making Aliyah and moving to Israel, the places of longing and living reverse; as the ideal place of Israel becomes a reality, the hardships of daily life in this young nation surface.
As a nation of immigrants, Israel is full of variety in expressions of traditions and cultural foods, shaped by each family’s experience in the Diaspora, but some things remain constant. This conflict of “longing and living” is a shared experience amongst Israelis, no matter which nation they are returning from. Since I am not a Jewish believer (or a Jewish not-yet-believer for that matter), I will never claim to know and understand the hardships of persecution and antisemitism this chosen nation has faced. I will never know so many things, but I do know how it feels to miss home.
Last summer as I was praying about feeling homesick on my daily bus ride to work, the Lord took me to a passage about Abraham, Hebrews 11:13-15.
...they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
It occurred to me that even when I'm home, I know I'm supposed to be serving the Lord overseas. No matter where I am, I still feel a sense of displacement because I either miss my friends and family in America, or I feel the call of God on my life to be away. The Lord has purposed this ache to produce a love-sickness for the Messiah's return, and a longing for the place He is preparing for us. It is out of that desire for Him that I must minister to the people of Israel in the last days.
As Devin and I are preparing to leave for Israel on March 24, 2009, I feel such a tremendous release from the homesickness I felt last summer. More than anything, I am so excited to get there and nest with my husband! Please keep us (and our furniture!) in prayer as we travel and continue to pray that I will feel a new sense of home in the Land!
Your People Shall be My People By Don Finto
Shabbat Shalom - March 1, 2009
Our Messianic Wedding