Friday evening (Erev Shabbat – evening of Sabbath), “Donna-the-racewalker” came to dinner. You remember Donna. I introduced her earlier. She is my nearest fellow student/neighbor, and the fastest walker I have ever known. Now do you remember? Well, Donna is here in Israel for the year without her family also, and so Friday evening I invited her for Sabbath dinner. Spaghetti sauce had been simmering in the slow cooker most of the day, and Donna brought a lovely salad. We had a nice dinner, good conversation, and dug into the Scriptures together. It was the perfect Erev Shabbat.
Among other things, Donna and I talked about our families and our homes. With the exception of the two families from New Zealand, none of us knew each other before arriving on Israeli soil. Getting to know this special group of like-minded people from 8 nations, all of whom heard God’s whistle calling us to the Land, has been a most important and fascinating part of our education.
During the evening, Donna seemed quite teary-eyed at times and later she shared the reason. She said it would be so easy to grumble, and she does not want to disappoint her heavenly Father with grumbling. You see Donna feels that Yahweh/God may intend for her to stay here for an extended period of time. She senses Him telling her to attach to this land. She says she feels Him letting her know this in her spirit and there is a struggle taking place. A struggle…because of Bella Coola.
Bella Coola is where Donna makes her home. Bella Coola, British Columbia, is a small community of 2000 residents nestled in a green, lush valley. It is a valley blessed with beautiful waterfalls, majestic views, deep rich soil, cool pure water, blue skies, tall green trees, and wildlife wandering into your yard.
You can see the struggle, can’t you? Compared to Bella Coola, the land of Israel is….well….less….desirable. In Bella Coola, you do not have to conserve water by not flushing each and every time… or by wetting yourself down and stopping the shower while you lather up or wash your hair before turning the water back on to finish your shower. In Bella Coola, a cool breeze invigorates you and green is not a color you have to struggle to find. In Bella Coola, construction does not require weeks upon weeks of hard labor and the use of heavy equipment to dig down through unending rock. In Bella Coola, you do not need to shake the sand out of your shoes when you reach your destination and in Bella Coola, you do not feel you need a shower when you arrive at that destination.
I can grasp her struggle. We each have our own Bella Coola, don’t we? It has always been so. Why, even when God’s chosen people had been redeemed, freed from the evil slavery of Egypt through great signs and miracles…even then, they found it difficult to stay away from the “cucumbers and leeks” of Egypt, their Bella Coola. Even in the face of the miraculous grace extended to Lot and his family, with angels actually taking them by the hand and escorting them out of harm’s way before Sodom was leveled….even then, Lot’s wife turned back to her Bella Coola. Whether that was her children or her home would only be a guess.
Over the last six years, since Leo has been gone, Yahweh/God has gently had me deal with some of my Bella Coolas. At first, I thought I couldn’t give up any of Leo’s belongings. Over the years, he has gently taught me the difference between Leo’s “things” and his “legacy” and I’ve been able to begin releasing the “things.” Then I thought I would never be able to part with the home we built together. Again, He has removed my heart from the “cucumbers and leeks” and helped me focus on those things that will pass through eternity. Though He has not required me to give up the home at this time, He has at least taught me that IT is not precious. If He had not helped me deal with this Bella Coola, I could never have come here, leaving it for even a time. Part of Yahweh’s reason for sending me here, I am convinced, was to help me deal with my most tenacious Bella Coola – my precious daughter, Jessica.
I could NEVER leave her. She needs me. I need her. We need each other. What if…what if...what if???
So, He has required me to start my education on dismantling this Bella Coola also. Not dismantling my love for her or my concern. Just agreeing with Him that I must be willing to say…”Blessed be the Name of the Master/Adonai. Thy will be done.” He still has work to do on me, this I know. Why, just last night I had a strong case of Bella Coola-itis. I missed my daughter so very much. I had not been able to talk to her in a couple of days and I really wanted to board a plane and fly home. But alas, I really do want to learn the lesson of Lot’s wife. Desiring to return to what we are suppose to release to Him, leads to our being totally paralyzed. It results in forfeiting the opportunity to move forward, and alas, not even able to go back. And if we did go back….we would share in disaster.
Which brings to mind another Scripture. In Genesis 16, after Hagar has become pregnant by Abraham (you remember the story) she and Sarah are on the “outs”, and Hagar runs away. When in the wilderness, she is visited by an angel of Yahweh/God who asks her a very interesting and important question “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?”
Now why would the angel ask this question? Does the One and Only Almighty, omniscient God not know? Or perhaps He did not communicate with His messenger. No, of course not. Perhaps this is the question He asks of each of us. Perhaps He is teaching us what we need to evaluate. Where have we come from? Where are we headed? In this case, Hagar was headed away from where she should be and towards….disaster. Perhaps she had not thought it through. She had just reacted based on emotion…hurt feelings…fear….pride. She was instructed to think it through and then make teshuvah (repent)… returning to where she had left. Sometimes, when things get tough….as with Donna and me longing for our Bella Coolas, our first response is to run away from where we have been placed and return to “it.” This would be the time to do the evaluation test….what is our goal? Where are we headed?
What is in our rear-view mirror?
In Lot’s wife’s case, she was instructed to leave evil Sodom behind and not return. Perhaps, had she evaluated what she was leaving (evil and certain death) and where she was headed (to the place these angels were hand delivering them) she would not have looked back, longing to return to her Bella Coola. Perhaps if she had done the where have you come from and where are you going test, her legacy would not be….well, what it is; a woman given an amazing gift of grace…an opportunity to flee from disaster..an opportunity to live out a legacy of miraculous delivery…but who squandered it, trading it for being paralyzed in time, no longer able to positively affect her children…or anyone for the Kingdom. Just perhaps.
Donna has a pure heart that is inspiring to me. She misses her Bella Coola. She mourns at the thought that she may be required to leave it for good and relocate…to barren desert sand and rocks and water shortages, sporadic hot water, and ever-present threat of war. Yet she has done the evaluation test and she knows from whence she came and where she is headed. She has found that her overriding desire is to be faithful to her Bridegroom and to do what He desires. She still fights her fleshly emotions, but her goal is clear.
I looked up Bella Coola on the net. You might want to take a look yourself. You’ll easily see why Donna loves it. Surely it is a bit of the Garden of Eden. Perhaps Donna will not be required to give it up after all. Perhaps, like Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac…she must just be willing to go up the mountain and bind her Bella Coola so it may no longer grasp her, and there lay it on the altar. Perhaps then He will tell her (as He did Abraham), to take it off the altar and return to her place. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I’m still working on my Bella Coola, and I suspect I may find I have even more to work on. I need to remember to be mindful of where I have come from and where I am headed.
In the meantime, I’m interested. Do you have a Bella Coola?
Until later, I am
Purposing not to look behind,
Originally penned in 2010 while living in the “West Bank”