By: Rev. Brandon Dirks
Day 1: Monday February 1
I thought I’d be excited. Nervous. Worried. Scared. None of the above. I’m strangely calm. I just left my family for two weeks in the United States on the largest plane I’ve been on, flying over the Atlantic Ocean, toward Tel Aviv, Israel. Going to the place where it all began. God. Abraham. Moses. Promised Land. Temple. Jesus. Disciples.Resurrection. Holy Spirit. Paul. Church. Mission.
I believe the calmness comes from a sense of gratitude. So much has made this possible in my life. 25 years of ministry. 45 years of life stories. Great parents and family. An amazing wife. Awesome kids. 5 churches. All and more have made me who I am and have brought me here, to this plane, on this trip. This pilgrimage. It’s time.
Many describe faith as a journey. I think pilgrimage is a better word. Journey implies that we go alone; pilgrimage requires others. It’s important to remember that my faith journey is not MINE. It is a gift. First from God, then from everyone who ever invested in me. I forget that sometimes. There have been many who have traveled with me on my faith pilgrimage–who showed me where to step, warned me of bad turns, lifted me when I slipped, cared for me when I was hurt. Some of them are on this airplane right now. But all of them are with me. There are some who have recently joined me on my faith pilgrimage–those who I am to show, warn, lift, care. Some of them are on this airplane also. But all of them are with me as well. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Too many to list here…but you know who you are. For all of you have made this possible–have made ME possible. I am not here as a tourist. I am here as a pilgrim.
The prayer that I have uttered almost everyday for the past two weeks: Break my heart. I fear that I have been “doing” church too long–forgotten that my heart was once broken for the people You died for–for the mission You gave your disciples. I pray that your Holy Spirit find me, and fill me on this pilgrimage so that I may be bold in making disciples who can make disciples who will change the world! Break my heart for Your mission.
During a 9 hour layover in Newark, we took a few hours and took a quick tour of New York City. Imagine this: we are standing on the 16-acre cemetery of Ground Zero, listening to our New York native Jewish tour guide (although he says he is not religious) telling a group of Louisville Christian pilgrims to Israel how his cousin was killed in one of the World Trade Center buildings by a terrorist attack by radical Muslims. Coincidence?
It’s called the Holy Land because all three of the World’s major religions claim it as their Holy Ground.
The Spirit is in this. And I still pray.
Break my heart.