Tending to Our Inner World

Yael Eckstein  |  November 18, 2020

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

One of the best things about living in the Holy Land is that when I want to get away for a few days, I can go to beautiful biblical places like the Sea of Galilee — and that is exactly what I did last week. After weeks of lockdown and balancing kids at home with work, we decided that it was time for a break. We spent two glorious days on the Galilee, and I came back feeling rested and ready to work with renewed strength and clarity.

This year has been especially fulfilling for me, even if more demanding. Because of the pandemic, The Fellowship was faced with greater needs, in Israel and the former Soviet Union, then ever before. In addition to increasing aid to the population that already receives our assistance, the Israeli government asked The Fellowship to help distribute government aid during this challenging time. It is an honor to be entrusted with this work because of our proven track record in distributing aid effectively, and we rose to the challenge.

I’m tremendously thankful that we can alleviate suffering during this difficult time. It is a great blessing to be in a position to help those in need. Together with our dedicated staff, I worked day and night in order to get food, medicine, and basic essentials to the elderly and poor – and it was truly a labor of love. Yet, all of those hours inevitably took their toll.

Listening for God’s Voice

This is why I was so grateful for the chance to recharge my batteries and rest. And as I relaxed, looking out at the Sea of Galilee, I realized that I was receiving so much more than physical rest. It was an opportunity to go inward and recharge my soul.

In Hebrew, the word midbar means “desert,” a place that epitomizes separation from the outside world and its distractions. It is nearly identical to the Hebrew word midaber, which means, “speak.” According to Jewish tradition, this similarity shows the connection between the two words. When we are in a desert, when we are removed from the noise and demands of regular life, we can hear God speak.  We are able to hear that “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12) that guides us, encourages us, and inspires us.

During those two days, I did things that filled my soul and deepened my connection to God. I sang songs and did art projects, and while I am not particularly good at either of those things I thoroughly enjoyed them. I also spent a lot of time praying, pouring out my heart to God, and listening for His “gentle whisper.”

A Message to People of Faith

When our trip ended, I realized that with all of the love and gratitude in my heart I no longer had room for any negativity. I had left behind a world fraught with confusion, anger, and pain, resulting from the pandemic, the economic crisis, and political uncertainty. Now, as I re-entered that world, I felt far better prepared to handle it. The Galilee had reminded me that when I fill myself with God – with faith, love, and hope – there is no room for anger, worry, or despair.

My friends, I am sharing this message with you because when God laid it on my heart I felt that this message was meant for all people of faith right now. All of us have been affected by the events and circumstances of the past year. All of us have been exhausted by the world at one point or another – physically, spiritually, or both. I want to remind us all that God wants us to tend to our inner world even if that means disconnecting from the outer world for a short while. There is no need to travel; all it takes is some time to rest and a quiet place to hear God speak.

In a time when the world can seem chaotic and frightening, I hope that you can find a way to turn inward and receive God’s perfect peace. He is always with us and I pray that we can always feel His presence.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael Eckstein's Signature