by Navy Schrock |  Forge Leadership Network

Whirlwind is the best word I can use to capture my Passages trip to Israel. A whirlwind of fast-paced adventures, beautiful memories, and mixed emotions. Even with so many new experiences, sights, and feelings, the impact of Israel did not hit me fully until I came face-to-face with a reminder of my heavenly home.

Tel Aviv to Indianapolis. Over 30 hours of journeying through two countries. Walking exhaustedly through the airport then stepping out into an Indiana afternoon, I was greeted with an enthusiastic hug and warm laughter from my sister.

Smiling and chatting, we made our way to the van where other family members celebrated my arrival home. Trading stories and other events, we began the few hour drive back to our city. Life seemed to have gone as normally as expected in a two-week time span. Graduation parties, friends moving, and then suddenly something to contrast with the normal life news. Something not entirely unexpected, but still difficult to hear.

A family member dying from cancer had rapidly lost all strength in the ten days I had spent away from home. During my last day in Israel, while I was wading along the shores of Caesarea and cherishing time with new friends, she took her last breath. God allowed her suffering to cease.

Even something expected can still overwhelm in the moment. Silence in the car. Tears flowing down my face, I watched the Midwestern fields roll by in the mid-afternoon light. After a space of time, I put in my headphones, and music filled with God’s truth began to wash over my soul.

As I began to process what had taken place, I listened to lyrics filled with God’s greatness balanced with His overwhelming mercy and love. Images and emotions of Israel began to flicker through my mind as we sped over the highway toward home. Standing on Mount Precipice, wading along the shores of Tabgha, the sight of longing at the Western Wall, countless impressions that I had not felt fully in Israel began to sink into my mind and heart.

An aching longing penetrated my soul. The longing for my heavenly home and the presence of God forever where death would not even be a memory and tears have no place.

Israel inspired, stirred, and challenged me to share the eternal hope I have been given to treasure. Everyone has or will lose a loved one; death is a discordant part of life. But I was reminded that I don’t mourn as one without hope. My Savior has given me everlasting and abundant peace. He calls me to steward it well and share the joy of redemption with others.

My time in Israel clarified several truths for me: live each moment to the fullest; share the love and joy of the Lord; treasure the hope of an eternal home. Death is bitter and painful, but it serves to remind us of how great our hope is. I was able to see pieces of my heavenly home more clearly after spending time away from typical earthly life. The real impact of my journey through Israel began when I was confronted with an event that allowed me to briefly see in the light of eternity.