Walking with Jesus

  Walking with Jesus is a new series of musings and art that are the result of an unforgettable trip that I made to Israel this summer. I never dreamed that I would walk with Jesus, where He once walked years ago - where He taught, prayed and lived out His brief life upon the earth. But I did!

  It was the trip of a lifetime, a totally unexpected and generous birthday present by my husband, who often surprises me with his creativity, despite the fact that he is every inch a routine-driven engineer at heart. The very idea of a trip to Israel was as foreign at the time as if I were given an opportunity to sky dive, or bungee jump off the side of a cliff!  It was not on my bucket list. I don't even have a bucket list. Yet this summer I had the unusual opportunity to hike the Jesus Trail, a relatively new experience that the Tourism department of Israel has made available for travelers to this amazing land.

Sunrise over Galilee
Oil on Canvas Board
Sara Joseph
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Sunrise over the Galilee, Oil, Sara Joseph

  If you ever have a chance to visit Israel, I would highly recommend it, especially hiking the Jesus Trail. We went as a motley group of 13 drawn from around the world, united in our love for Jesus, the Bible and therefore this beautiful land.  Those who walked the entire trail walked approximately 40 miles in four days. Unfortunately, I opted out on one of the four days to give my sore feet a break! The distances that Jesus and the disciples walked frequently and effortlessly were astounding to me.

  Our guide was Jane Ben-Ari, an Israeli citizen, who is undoubtedly the best guide for Israel that anyone could ever have. She was knowledgeable about everything pertaining to the nation, whether it was politics, history, archaeology, the best places to eat or biblical prophecy… you name it - she was the unquestionable expert.

  Besides her, we went with Dr. Dan and Sharon Stolebarger, who have both had the distinct privilege of leading groups in Israel innumerable times. Dan is the Executive director of Koinonia Institute. He taught us as we walked on the trail, reminding us frequently that this was how Jesus also taught.  Each mini sermon was given at a location that was perfectly pertinent to the message. Sharon efficiently took care of the details, ensuring us that every minute was optimized in a way that we could never have orchestrated had we decided to do this trip without them. 

  We formed easy friendships that were memorable, despite our cultural and geographical differences. If you ever wonder who to visit Israel with, this is the team to go with. On the second week of our trip when we visited other sites in Israel, I unexpectedly caught the banter of other guides who sometimes shared a historical site. I was amused and dismayed at some of the fanciful nonsense I overheard them telling their unsuspecting charges. It does matter who you go with!

  Walking with Jesus, on the trail was an experience that has taken me quite a few months to process. If you think that it is presumptuous or foolish to imagine that He walked with me, I'd have to disagree. His presence was very real on every step of the trail. We did not walk together as a group all the time, so I found myself frequently alone for much of the trail, except for His unmistakable presence. Does that sound strange? It should not; He is with you too. Learning to recognize His presence may come slowly and sometimes only in hindsight. But as a Bible-believing Christian you ought to be assured that you too walk with Jesus, regardless of whether you sense it or not. He has promised never to leave or forsake us.

  I've begun a series of oil paintings from that trip that I thought I'd share here under the tab of Walking with Jesus. I did not paint them in plein aire as I would have preferred, but rather worked from photographs. Despite that, I've prayed that some of the emotions of those few precious days may be expressed with every stroke of the brush, color decisions and even in the selection of each composition. These to me are just a warm up - a beginning…a part of the processing of all that I saw and experienced while I was there.  

  Visiting Israel made the Bible come alive in brilliant color and texture. Something about the sun rising over the Galilee whispered that His mercies were indeed new every morning, just as the early morning sounds of birds chirping reminded me of His unfailing care. Israel was truly the land flowing with milk and honey.  It was hard to escape His presence everywhere; even the fragrance of freshly baking bread reminded me of when He declared that He was "The bread of Life".

  I suspect that this trip will fuel years of creating art, simply because being in Israel is a fulfillment for every believer in a way that cannot adequately be expressed.

  Rather than just showing oil paintings I thought that I would combine these pages of Walking with Jesus with commentary on truths that I am mulling over from the Bible to perhaps help you also in your own personal walk. Someday I hope that you too will literally retrace the steps that Jesus took on those beautiful paths between Nazareth, Cana and all the way to Capernaum. Or maybe your walk with Him will be limited to enjoying His presence and comfort in the daily challenges of life.  However it happens, I pray that my work and words will assure you of His steadfast love and care.

The Way - Oil on Canvas

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Other Israeli Landscapes

The Way, Oil on Canvas

Valley of Decision, Oil

 Boat on the Sea of Galilee

Land of Milk and Honey