An account of an unexpected "suddenly God" moment in the Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, where victory overcame fear.
On the next to last day of our extension in Jerusalem we sought to do things we had never done before in our many times in the HolyCity, the cradle of monotheistic religion. In looking on the internet to prepare a day of new und previously unexplored possibilities, the Frommer Travel Guide website listed a little known sight that attracted our attention – a view of the OldCity from its rooftop.
At an admission donation of only 5 NIS (shekels) per person, it was easy to agree to the experience and, as we trudged up the old wooden stairs to the top – stairs whose strength had been compromised by obvious years of neglect from a previous leaky roof – we could not imagine the view awaiting our eyes.
As we stepped out of the stairwell into the crisp morning and remarkably clear air of the open rooftop, our eyes were greeted with a feast that was unexpected. The view of the OldCity was spectacular in the rays of the morning sun. The direct view to the TempleMount, past the Eastern Gate and up into the trees of the Mount of Olives on the eastern side of this ancient city was beckoning to the senses. It was not only a delight to the eyes but to the sense of smell as the odors of spices, incense and the freshness of the new morning cascaded against our olfactory capabilities. The roofs of the churches of the Christian Quarter were easy to recognize and we could easily draw perspective as to the location of the many places we sought to see that day.
As we looked around the expanse of this God-ordained city, the imposing bell tower of the LutheranChurch of the Redeemer stood high above most everything else in the OldCity. Knowing it, too, had been listed as a place with a view to behold from its highest point, we readily agreed to align our steps in a way to grasp this new opportunity. In a few minutes we entered into the church and, for a measly 5 shekels we again had access to another observation of this city we adore.
We began the steep spiral ascent to the pinnacle. The stone steps were extraordinarily narrow, it being difficult to place both feet on any step and there was no railing because of the narrowness of the shaft. The only place upon which to maintain one’s balance was to hold onto the circular vertical stone shaft as you wound as tightly as a top upward to the platform. Because of its design, one could not see beyond the next few steps as there was no open view of the climb. The ceiling was extremely low and, carrying a day pack, the canvas material constantly scrapped against the ceiling reminding me of my need to keep my head low. It would be impossible for two persons to ever pass in the tower stairs. Often dark with few places available for light and no circulation of air, the fear of claustrophobia suddenly swept my being and I wanted out of there now!
It was a moment of decision; would I trust in the all-powerful God to see me to the victory of the view that awaited me at the top, or would I miss this “suddenly God” moment because of the fear that is diametrically opposed to faith? Not knowing how many steps it was to the top (it’s 178 by the way) and the feeling of being closed in surrounding me as if it were a sentence of death’s grip, I chose in that fleeting moment to renounce the spirit of fear which contrary to God and to operate in faith. We are told in scripture to bring all thoughts captive under the truth of God’s Word and this was no exception.
I continued the climb to the top, passing the bells and ascending still further until the final platform was attained along with the view in all four directions of this precious place that far exceeded my expectations. As my video camera recorded the magnificence of the visual blessing, I thanked God for His grace that permitted me to be victorious in the midst of fear.
In this “suddenly God” moment I was reminded that, if I am unable to operate in faith by His power and implicit trust in Him alone, I will again miss out on many blessings He desires to give me. When we operate in fear, we actually miss more blessings than we will probably ever know until we leave this life. Renounce the fears that seek to take life from us and give all of our worries, anxieties, fears, and concerns to the almighty God who cares about us (Psalm 55:22; I Peter 5:6-7).
Make a commitment today to not give fear a place in your heart and to seek the “suddenly God” blessings that are awaiting you!