The day begins by trusting. Unable to read Hebrew, I guess at what I’m about to eat by noting similar shapes, colors, and packaging. For example, I went about adding sugar to my morning coffee but the packet wasn’t labeled in English. Since the item was “sugar packet size” and located in the middle of the table, I was fairly confident of what I was about to dump in my cup o’ joe. It’s not a science, mind you, but I’m figuring it out.

As I meet the people who call this state home, I can guess a lot about them by simply noting our similar features. I don’t speak Hebrew, but I’m guessing that since they are of similar size and shape (yet slightly different in color) we have similar desires, similar struggles, and definitely a similar Creator.

Ariel – our guide for this pilgrimage – keeps reminding us that “it’s all about the water.” What he means is that water is of utmost importance to these people – the Israeli’s and also their neighboring enemies. (I know what you are thinking: we have a guide named after a mermaid… so of course he is going to say that it’s all about the water…) I hear that it hasn’t rained since April or thereabouts. This is an arid, dusty land, so when a water source is discovered it is invaluable.

A water source likely means that wild animals will gather there for drink. So this means that humans not only have a fresh water source, but they can also hunt for fresh meat. It’s all about the water, especially when you don’t have our luxury of faucets and plumbing.

Communities and civilizations over the centuries were established based on the presence of water. Rather than plant a city wherever and whenever the mood hit, it started by locating fresh water. Location, location, location – in proximity to water – was the mantra of real estate agents dating back to the years B.C.

All throughout Scripture we read about water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The presence of God living within us is the Holy Spirit – the Living Water. The more arid, dusty, and parched I recognize my life to be, the more I confess that “it’s all about the Water.”

As for “location, location, location” – so many of the good things that we do in Jesus’ Name can be established WITHOUT the Holy Spirit. I guess what I’m getting at is the fact that we as well-meaning Christians can go about planting ministries in cities and locations that are appealing to us. But I wonder how much better off we would be if we waited to establish a class or a ministry, or to plant a church, based upon the presence of the Holy Spirit.

START with the active, flowing, life-giving presence of the Spirit. Don’t plant something and then pray that some type of manmade aqueduct can supply your needs.

One more, unrelated thought…

Caesarea by the sea was stunning – a 3500 seat amphitheater, remnants of a hippodrome, foundations outlining a palace. Rather than trying to describe what once was there, I’ll tell you what remains: Ruins.

I’ve ruined clothes with stubborn stains. I’ve ruined friendships with insensitive words. I’ve ruined brownies that I failed to pull out of the oven in time. But the ruins I saw today were “good ruins,” if such a thing exists. I guess it’s just a matter of how you look at ‘em. Today’s ruins were, without a doubt, stunning and beautiful. Awe-inspiring.

Fallen pillars. Broken sections of columns. Incomplete, now-headless statues. Tumbled stones weathered by centuries of erosion. This city by the sea is a remnant of what once was.

There is beauty in ruins. And there is also a beauty in one another – our fallen, incomplete, ruined selves.

I stood in the center of the former hippodrome and amphitheater, imagining the beauty of what once was. God is telling me to stand in the midst of broken, fallen lives – of people just like myself – and imagine. Imagine these people as created in the image, the imagination of God.

Even our ruin-ness points to God. Though broken and eroded by sin, we are a remnant of God. We are beautiful ruins.