THE DEAD SEA AND ME

Having waded into the Dead Sea on a recent tour of Israel, I was amused to topple on the water and float there like an inflatable raft. You see, the way my body is set up, I have no problem floating anyway. I was so enthralled, however, when my feet touched the seabed because of the large formations of salt I could feel with my toes. I plunged my hand in to retrieve them only to come up shouting in shock at the stinging splash in my eyes, nose and mouth. 

The Dead Sea, at more than 400 meters below sea level, is the absolute lowest point on earth. Runoff from towns and villages along the famed Jordan River all the way through the desert and through the mountain leads into the Dead, A.K.A. Salt Sea. This shiny, briny lake, nine times saltier than the ocean, has no outlet, and is constantly mined for its minerals that make cosmetic creams and oils. I plunged my hand into my purse to buy these, and my credit card is still stinging.

That said, I think that memorable experience was a providential one. You see, although I traveled great lengths to “walk where Jesus walked,” I expected little to move me. The wilderness, desert, and Dead Sea air all jibed with my outlook. In spite of that inner, spiritual conflict, I still believed that there is hope for those of us, who because of the state of world affairs, are more than a little salty.

It’s no mystery that the unchecked and uncritical consumption of media depicting either the most inane, or the lowest of human behavior leaves us unproductive. Like the massive repository of runoff, we lack worthy and creative outlets. Is it any wonder why we feel dead inside, or lack meaning and purpose? 

Further, those who’ve claimed the promise of justice from our society, sometimes fall powerless before the inexplicable buoyancy of injustice, white supremacy, and the misuse of riches and power. How else do we reconcile our fascination with five passengers, some billionaires, and their reckless exploration of the ocean depths against the overloaded vessel carrying 150 migrants of color off the coast of Greece? How else does a would-be “good guy” on the subway choke the life out of another, having failed to acknowledge the victim had a life worth living in the first place? How else do we follow the rationale of the U.S. Supreme Court that protected the right of a white, male postal worker to skip his Sunday shift in observance of his faith, even though in doing so it would  “impose on coworkers, disrupt the workplace and workflow, and diminish employee morale”?  Yet, in the same session, the Court dealt a death blow to Affirmative Action. It has long protected millions of overlooked but deserving minority students amid the resentment of disgruntled students, and those who hold bias.  

Famous for breathing life into hopelessly dead situations,  our Creator God, posits the story of the Valley of Dry Bones ( Ezekiel 7). There, in vision He asked Ezekiel not just to assess the damage, but to pronounce the promise of life upon it: 

“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live . . . Then you shall know that I am the Lord.’” If you have life and dreams in you now, in this world, it’s because God is holding out His promise over you.

 

The Book of Ezekiel, as our tour guide Sonya pointed out, also contains a proverbial prophecy over the Dead Sea:

“These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed . . .” (Ezekiel 4:7). 

It was the “I Am” in the flesh whose conversation with the woman at the well (John 4) involved the metaphor of water – His reviving Spirit, and His gift of salvation and destiny with Him.

“ . . . “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Living water is miraculous and refreshing, a vibrant, teeming existence, all coming from an inside Source. The introduction of Him, levels the landscape and waters the spirit,  irrespective of widely held beliefs or practices or zeitgeist of the moment. And, oh, that takes the sting away. 

This article is part of our 2023 July/August Issue
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