This week, I visited a friend. As we talked, Christian music played in the background. When I commented how much I was enjoying the music, my friend got up, crossed the room and came back with a CD she especially likes. She handed the CD to me, backside up.
I stared. The photo before me captured a night scene an ocean away from where I live – a night scene I had witnessed. “I was there!” I cried.
October 2, 2009, I arrived in Israel with a team of about 25 others. After landing in Tel Aviv, we boarded a bus that drove us through Jerusalem and down, down, down into the southern desert, to Ein Gedi on the banks of the Dead Sea. There in the open air, we would participate with 4,000 other Christians from some 75 nations in the opening celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.
A large, well-lit stage faced west, away from the sea. In front of the stage, another sea moved – a sea of people from all around the world, gathering to worship God together. As dusk fell and our group scattered, looking for places to sit, I opted to stay back behind the rows of folding chairs. Instead, I sat on the ground, leaning against a palm tree. For two hours, I listened to and sang with the worship music that would be released a year later on Paul Wilbur’s CD, Desert Rain. In front of the stage, dancers danced. Through the crowd, wove a line of people holding banners high. Near me sat a group from Africa, another group from Germany and yet another from Korea. For two hours, I looked up from the lowest place on earth at the magnificent night sky. I marveled at the God who had made it all – had made us all – and had brought me there to experience it.
Three days ago, I saw the scene again – on a CD cover and in my mind. Today marks the two-year anniversary of that night, my first night in Israel. May I take you in your imagination to a palm tree that stands between a lifeless desert and a Dead Sea, to a night the nations gathered to worship the living God under the stars? Would you join the worship too? We sang many songs that night. This is a stunning video of one of my favorites, “The Diamond Turns.”