Excerpt from new book coming from Jedwin Smith:
“I am Israel — Lions and Lambs of the Land”
After twenty hours in the air for a trip that started in Atlanta, and included a brief Paris layover, a final stop at Ben Gurion Airport, and one restless night’s sleep following a seven-hour time difference, trust me on this: Sucking on a cup of instant coffee does not remove the cobwebs from the brain.
The following morning at 8 o’clock in the breakfast room of the Tel Aviv Dan Panorama Hotel, forcing that pigswill down my throat, I heard, “Hello. I’m Philip Haney. And you are?” My eyes cracked open. My first thought was Ah, c’mon, man. It’s way too early to be smiling. Or is it way too late? Uggh.
But there he was, a debonair fellow; dressed casually in checked shirt, blue jeans, and baseball cap; extending a hand of friendship; beaming much too enthusiastically for such an early hour.
My wife, June, Miss Congeniality herself, was hale-and-hearty and made the introductions, including of our good friends Jim and Carolyn Williams who also were dining at our table. Small-talk was exchanged, including telling Haney we were from Georgia. Haney said he was from “nowhere in particular; I travel a lot.”
Of course, June emphasized that she was here “to embrace Jesus,” while I was here to write a book on Israel, about its survival despite all the wars, terrorism, and worldwide condemnation from almost everyone, including the United States.
She paused to catch her breath. Mister Debonair smiled knowingly and waited.
“The Lord has instructed us to write this book,” June said. “Well, not me, really. My husband’s actually doing the interviews and writing the book. I’ll be praying and holding onto the Lord’s promise that He opens the doors He wants opened and closes those He wants closed.”
In our fifty years of marriage, I don’t believe June has ever met a stranger. Especially those even remotely associated with Jesus. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she verbally embraced Haney as if he were family.
Flashing those teeth again, Haney said, “Writing a book about the Middle East’s eternal dilemma. Now that is interesting.” We shook hands and he added, “If you’d like, maybe we could get together later and talk more about it.”
I nodded unenthusiastically and watched as Haney strolled about the room, moving from table to table, introducing himself to the other members of our Holy Land tour. June’s admiration was obvious when she said, “What a nice gentleman.”
I was thinking, “Is this dude a used car salesman? Is he one of those overbearing tambourine-shaking evangelists unable to hold back their tears every time they see something Jesus might have touched?”
In case my internal rant had somehow showed itself on my face, and unable to blame that on lack of real coffee, I felt somewhat embarrassed, even guilty, by the way I’d responded to Haney’s introduction. Married to a real-life guardian angel, and always surrounded by her sisters-of-supplication and prayer warriors of all shapes and sizes, races and religious denominations, my life has been one of quiet self-reproach.
In other words, I was the king of the self-imposed guilt trip. Comfortable in that role. Found it easy to adapt to, having been raised an Irish Catholic. Moving from bouts of atheism to partial believer to “whoa, maybe there really is something to this Bible-thumping stuff,” only to backslide whenever misfortune struck.
Sure, we managed to get to Israel, but “only through the grace of God” as June was so quick to point out. Except that was the only thing that had gone right. I had interviews lined up with major sources and big-name movers and shakers in this story I wanted to tell about Israel.
Yet my carefully crafted game plan, including every one of my sources, evaporated shortly before we left the States. So publicly I agreed with June about God’s strong hand in the matter before us, doing my best to hide from everyone the shadow of doubt crawling across my heart.
Nine years of work and waiting. Down the toilet. Neither God himself nor his Son could help me. It seemed as if one more time I was snake-bit.