I have always dreamed of travelling to the Holy Land. Perhaps it was the hours spent in university classrooms studying the history of God's people or the Bible stories I learned as a child. Maybe my interest was piqued by news stories that flow like olive oil from the Middle East. But whatever it was that sparked my desire, I was not prepared for how deeply my recent visit to Israel touched my spirit.

As I boarded a boat for a sunny afternoon cruise across the Sea of Galilee, I was reminded of the many stories of Jesus that featured this body of water. It was there that Jesus called fishermen to be his disciples as he began his earthly ministry. He commanded the waves of that lake to be calm during a furious storm and it was there that he showed sovereignty over the elements when he walked on water. And there I was about to cast off into those very same waters. It's difficult to express the feeling that came over me at that moment. I was excited, of course, but it was more than that. I was completely awestruck. I was seeing what Christ himself would have seen! The glittering water, the rolling hills, the shore where he sat with his disciples and the blue sky that seemed to go on forever.

To be completely honest, I was so lost in the experience that I have no idea how long it took for us to cross the Sea of Galilee, but I remember that the boat docked far too soon for my liking. I was reluctant to leave such a peaceful place and my memory has taken me back to that day many times since my return home.

I wonder if Jesus felt the same way as his life's journey took him closer and closer to the cross. Did he think of his days in Galilee as he entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey? What thoughts ran through his mind as he cleared the Temple of money changers and thieves? As he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and was betrayed by one of his closest friends, did he remember happier days shared with his disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee?

One thing I don't wonder about is whether he thought of the people of Galilee as he gave his life on the cross. In fact, I believe they were definitely on his mind, right along with every other person for whom he died, including you and including me. And for the record, I'm still awestruck.

Pamela Richardson, news editor of Salvationist magazine, recently travelled to the Holy Land with fellow members of the Canadian Church Press. As the association's president, she feels privileged to have shared the experience with like-minded writers, editors and publishers who are committed to sharing the good news of God's love through the printed word.

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