“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” Luke 2:46-49 ESV
I have a married couple in our church who absolutely loves Israel. As long as I have known them, they have had a passion to share this love with others. In 2017, I had the incredible experience of traveling to Israel with Theodis and Judy. As their pastor, I knew that they knew this trip would change my life and my ministry. They were correct. It did. To stand where so many life-changing stories of the Bible took place gave a vivid meaning to the things I have preached and taught before. To be baptized in the Jordon was not only cold, but inspirational as I shared something so close with my Lord. I was being changed from the inside out through an experience made possible by a passion of two people who love Israel.
I never really thought about how they came to being so enthralled with this country and the people they always meet when they go there. I figured it was just something they did once, and it stuck. You know, like taking a cruise and asking yourself, where has this been all my life? From the very first cruise my wife and I went on, we were hooked and became a spokesperson for the industry. The same thing happened to me in Israel. I took the time to go, made the investment, and what I experienced changed my life. I remember the first couple of years after my trip I would go online just to watch news reports of what was happening where I visited. Maybe that is what happened to this couple too.
Years later I am sitting in a class being taught by Theodis and Judy. They specialize in teaching on the blessing, restored relationships in marriage and family, and yes, anything to do with Israel and its culture. I was excited to hear what they had to say in this service for our seniors. What would they teach that would have us sitting on the edge of our seats? What came next would give me an understanding of why Israel is so important not just to them as a family, but to Judy.
After a heart felt and loving introduction by her husband, Judy started sharing her testimony about when she began hearing the voice of God as a little girl. The point was that through Christ, God communes with us as we pray. When she was about 8 years old, she found a place to pray and experience hearing the voice of God. She said it was there she learned that God was interested in being interrupted to listen and talk to an 8-year-old. She learned how to hear the voice of her Heavenly Father and what He wanted her to pray.
The place where they would meet caught my attention and made the thread of her love for Israel obvious. Her favorite place in her neighborhood to pray was on the steps of the local synagogue. It was on those steps where she discovered how much God was interested in her life. It was not just a passion that started on a trip to Israel or a book she read. No, it was a thread God began as she learned to pray for the Jewish people who attended the synagogue. It was that experience as a young girl when God gave her a passion for His people that her and her husband would have the honor to share with others. God began a thread that has been used to create a tapestry of ministry that has blessed so many people.
As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the story of 12-year-old Jesus on the steps of the temple. The story is about his parents losing track of him when they returned to their home after celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem. It is in this story where we see Jesus’ first words as He walked this earth. “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” Not Joseph’s house. Not Mary’s house. His Father’s house! Here we see the divine connection come to the light. Jesus’ first words we see in scripture are about His Father and the Father’s business.
Jesus would go on and finish the work that began on those steps listening to the Torah being taught. He would continue to point to scripture and the work He was sent to do by the Father. This work would take Him to a cross where He would die for our sins. But it also took Him to a grave that could not keep Him. Because of this, Jesus shares His victory with us. Those who believe on Him, will also experience new life! They would share in the joy of the Heavenly Father just like Jesus did. Just like the little 8-year-old who heard the heart of God for His people on the steps of the neighborhood synagogue, so the thread of heaven became apparent the day on those steps of the Temple. It would be woven into a beautiful tapestry that would share the love of God with the whole world.
Maybe you have a thread in you that makes sense why you do the things that you do. Ask God about it. Maybe you too can understand why you have a passion for certain things that God uses for His glory. Your life has purpose and that did not start when you became an adult. It began when you were knitted together in your mother’s womb. If it is music, maybe God has given you a passion for worship. If it’s poetry or literature, it could be God has called you to write. If you have always loved to travel, chances are God wants to use you to share His love with others around the world. These are just a few things that come to mind. Find the thread, follow it through and allow God to share your passions with others that will lead them to Him.