A week after the NFL season ended in February, my wife, Cheyna, and I went to Israel together. Just me, my wife and our guide, we were able to visit the most amazing places, like the Holy Land, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Capernaum and the Dead Sea. I was even able to be baptized in the Jordan River! This was probably the most incredible trip I’ve ever been on. I’ll never forget it.
Walking where Jesus walked, seeing the sea where Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, looking out at the hill on which Elijah called fire upon the people of that land, and standing in the Engedi Desert were experiences that really brought the Bible to life for me. It opened up a whole new level of spiritual understanding for me.
As privileged Americans, we usually can either go on two types of trips: vacation or missions trips to areas that are underprivileged or hurting. This trip was neither; it was an opportunity to bask in the fact that Jesus came to earth and lived among us. As we drove through these towns, we’d pull out God’s Word and know that this truly is real, in every way. When we saw the random springs of water coming up out of the Engedi Desert, we could then grasp how David praised God for providing water for him in a wasteland while he fled from Saul’s pursuit. Those streams are still flowing!
This trip helped me recognize just how incredible our God is. His fingerprints are everywhere! I was able to feel the purpose of God’s mission and see the ways in which He brought truth to life. Ever since I returned from this trip, God’s Word has come alive for me in a whole new way.
Growing up in America, we often think of the New Testament as the more applicable part of Scripture. This isn’t a bad thing. When we think of introducing someone to Jesus quickly, this is where we turn. But in Israel, it was amazing to see how many of the people had such a deep reverence for the ancient text — stories from the Old Testament that we often put aside and think of as fairy tales. We may excuse the genealogies or older stories in God’s Word and think of them as irrelevant, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. God’s Word is a whole story, from start to finish. To know God and understand His truth, we need to see the whole picture. Every one of these stories leads to the Messiah. When you really take the time to know God’s Word, you know the truth that sets you free.
Don’t dismiss or overlook any portion of God’s story. Dig in and make it come alive!
— Jordan Matthews, NFL wide receiver
Jordan Matthews is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Jordan’s Increase profile: https://theincrease.com/author/jordan-matthews/
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