Deb and I took a vacation this past week to Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. We’d been hearing for a few years from our Russian and Ukrainian friends that this was an amazing (and cheap) place to catch some sun.
Flying into Cairo immediately took me to the dessert scenes of Star Wars. One color, tan, everywhere. From there we flew to Sharm, which is located on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The mountain range was vast, wide, and desolate – at least from the birds eye view. However, once you reach the Red Sea, color bursts forth like an oasis.
I don’t know why, but I had never considered the Red Sea a place you’d want to visit. Maybe it’s because as a kid, I thought it was red. Against the backdrop of the murky Dnepr River our kids swim in, the Red Sea quickly became THE reason you want to visit Egypt.
Colorful fish, tiny creatures nestled in the coral. For the first time I was able to appreciate firsthand the true domain that lies beneath. I praise God for the beauty, but I’m really glad to be a land dweller! I was able to scuba down to 12 meters, with an instructor nearby. Saw a stingray, two octopi (weird word), and a lot of Nemo’s protecting their homes.
It was a week filled with extremes. Extreme pleasure of not having 7 kids to cook and clean for (insert Deb amen). Extreme sadness of the unfolding, and unnecessary disaster of flight MH17. Extreme customer service by the many hotel servants/workers, and Extreme darkness that covers the face of Islam.
Unbeknownst to us, we had booked our travel dates during Ramadan. Every single practicing Muslim, which is more than 90% of the 80 million is expected to refrain from drinking water and eating any food from sunrise, to sunset. Imagine living in +100F climate, working outside in the heat, and not being able to touch water during sunlight hours, for a month!
I met a lot of kind Egyptians. I had a few conversations, asked some questions to better understand what motivates the heart of a Muslim. It’s not a simple question, and I’m embarrassed to admit my limited understanding of the world’s fastest growing religion.
I left with a rested body and mind, but a somber heart. For the first time in years, Deb and I were able to watch CNN, FoxNews, BBC, Euronews, all in english each night on TV. We’ve been primarily following events here in Ukraine, but via the Internet. After a few nights of news watching, I became depressed! Mankind is lost, we’re like Israel wandering in the mountains of Sinai, we need a Savior to lead us to the refreshing waters of the sea.
In any vacation, for those of us privileged enough to take them, we remember quickly that no amount of pampering, or tasty foods, or spectacular views can fill the longing heart. The real rest comes from unloading the burdens of sin, embracing fully the unmerited love the Father has bestowed on us in Christ. He is our Sabbath Rest, He is our Prince of Peace, our healer, in a world that has lost it’s way. We have something great to share with this lost world. I return to Ukraine with a fresh appreciation of His love.
God is love. He rescues all that call on His name. They need to know WHO He really is – and His nature, and character have been revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ – Heb 1:1-4
We are thankful for the past week of rest, for His creation and a growing appreciation for the mindset and situation with our Arab neighbors. All peoples, all nations, for Christ must be our mission together.
Lord give us spiritual eyes to see the eternal battle – let us not as a people become embattled in nationalistic fervor but help us to be Kingdom first thinkers – Your Kingdom, Your rule, Your love to the nations!
Bruce & Deb