The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand … (Psalm 121:5)
The heat can be unbearable, the kind of thing that can really get your attention if you’re hiking in Israel.
For all the preparations we make when we invite people to travel with us in Israel, the sun seems to take us all by surprise. It rises early and never relents. All day it bakes the earth, helping turn the Negev Desert and Judean Wilderness into some of the most rugged terrain on the planet.
When you hike in this environment, take as much water as you can carry. I once went through six liters before lunch, trying to stay hydrated when temperatures were nearing 120 degrees.
On that day, like other days with our groups, we instinctively found the shade. Go with me one day, and you’ll hug the canyon walls in a wadi, hiding from the sun. Once in a while, there will be a tree big enough to offer relief. No matter how big the group, we all manage to find its branches. And on a few occasions, relief comes from above. A cloud arrives, shields us from the sun, and spirits rise.
It’s amazing. Same travelers. Same hikers. Same path. But what was nearly unbearable suddenly becomes pleasant. With shade, there is joy in the journey.
The shade is life. The shade is comfort. The shade is just enough relief to get you to the next stop along the way.
Do you remember God’s presence with his people in the desert? Moses had led the great exodus, and the people were trying to understand who this God of theirs really was. He terrified them. He stunned them with his power. He overwhelmed them with expectations of righteousness.
He appeared to them at night as a fire. Do you remember how he appeared during the day?
He was a cloud over them.
He was their shade.
Don’t fear our God. Come to him. This is comfort. This is life. This is strength. He’ll never be further away than you can reach with your right hand, the Psalmist said.
Relief? None better. It’s not the luxury of modern-day air conditioning, but that’s one of the lessons you can only find if you actually travel in Israel. Like life, travel in the desert is exceptionally hard. When the shade appears, you’ll find it. And you’ll thank God for it.
Is life difficult today? Find the shade. Rest there. Find your shade-providing God, and you’ll find joy for your journey, wherever you are.
Want to travel in Israel with Pastor Andy Cook? Visit experienceisraelnow.com, where you’ll also find resources you can use right now so uncover more secrets from the ancient paths.