Here’s another story of our tour in Israel. We are traveling into Egypt under cover of darkness for a sunrise hike on Mount Sinai. This was one of the most amazing, frightening and daunting excursions I’ve ever been on. Basically you leave at midnight from Eilat, which is in the southern part of Israel. You drive down to cross the Egyptian border, board an Egyptian bus and travel deep into the Egyptian desert. When you reach the base of Mount Sinai, you are met by a swarm of Egyptian guides with camels. You can’t understand them but they grab you and toss you up onto a camel, which then proceeds to stand up, hiking you six feet up in the air and off you go. They walk you up the side of the mountain, in sheer darkness and freezing cold, to the summit of Sinai. “Why am I doing this again???? It’s to see the sunrise, stupid!” The sunrise is breathtaking over the moonscape where God chose to give His Law.
But let me tell you about an event that happened as we were heading from the Egyptian border to the base of Mount Sinai. This trip was after 9/11 but just before the Arab Spring. We were on a chartered bus. I was leading this group, because our Israeli guide couldn’t go into Egypt. We were on our own. About halfway to Mount Sinai (again, in the desert, at night), we were pulled over by armed Egyptians at some kind of checkpoint. As the guide, I sat at the front of the bus and could see everything that was taking place. Most of the people in the back and the middle couldn’t see anything but the wasteland.
So there are five or six men, armed with machine guns, demanding that I hop out of the bus. What went through my head was, “For the love of God, these people are going to see me massacred in the street.” I had no choice; I had to get out. I was prepared as much as I could be to face whatever was there, but the haunting thought was that they would kill me in front of these people I was leading. Oddly enough, somehow in my vision the others were able to get away.
I don’t know Arabic, so the conversation was rather interesting. I looked into the men’s eyes and could only think of all the media reels of Middle Easterners who hate Americans and burn our flags in their streets.
Well, this is another move of shepherding: facing danger and laying down your life for the sheep that have no clue of what’s going on. I was required to face these men with machine guns in the dark – I had no choice. And I was able to do so with love and concern for the welfare of my sheep.
This, my friend, is what God does for us on a regular and often daily basis. He sacrifices as we unwittingly walk through our journey of life. He orchestrates lovingly and daily our steps, yes even today. We are not alone; a Shepherd is guiding us. And He has ultimate concern for our well-being and our good. Though we at the back of the bus may not know what is going on, He as the perfect attentive Shepherd does!
Indeed He Who watches Israel never slumbers or sleep.
Psalm 121: 4 NLT