Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Time is Coming to Sound the Trumpets!


In honor of Yom Teruah, or Feast of Trumpets, I thought it would be fun to share the story of how I got my shofar.  Owning a shofar has been an interesting part of my spiritual walk.  It has opened my eyes beyond the prayer realm that I knew and showed me a whole new dimension of spiritual warfare.  It has been an honor to be entrusted with such a powerful weapon.  The story of how I came to possess my own shofar is a small miracle worth recounting as I consider how far Elohim has brought me in my life. 

In 2006, the thought of having a shofar seemed to be one of those vague ideas that were never really intended to come true.  There were plenty of reasons not to have a shofar at that time in my life.  I lived a nomadic life that involved lots of countries and airport traveling.  I have long struggled with breathing challenges that would make blowing a shofar very difficult, if not impossible.  And finally, I had failed miserably at learning to play a clarinet with any proficiency.  How was I ever going to learn how to blow a shofar in a way that would sound beautiful or dare I say, “spiritual”?

I was blessed with an opportunity to travel to Israel in the Spring of 2006.  This was an organized prayer tour that would start out near Yerushalyem and move around the entire country ending up in Haifa.  I would be coming from Thailand with a connecting flight through Turkey.  As I prepared to head out for my first trip to the Promised Land, the thought came that it would be wonderful to get a shofar.  I brought up the idea to some of my friends in Israel and there were some tentative plans made to help me make this happen. 

Unfortunately, even the best of plans can fall apart in unexpected ways.  These early plans fell apart as fast as they were made and I was left wondering if anything was going to happen until the very end of the prayer tour.  It seems that Elohim had HIS own plans from the very beginning and I was in the right place at the right time to watch it unfold.

The person that was supposed to hook me up with a shofar had run into an unexpected snag with the shofar factory.  They were closed at that time due to the Pesach (Passover) holiday and he was not able to get a shofar for me.  He told another person about this glitch and this person said that they had a shofar that they would be happy to sell me.  I waited for this shofar to materialize until the very last day of the prayer tour.  I had about given up any hope of seeing this happen. 

Then, on the last day of the tour, I walked into the final meeting.  There on the table lay the largest shofar I had ever seen.  It was actually longer than my arm.  As I was walking in, I heard someone ask if they could buy the shofar and they were told, “No, this shofar is for SueJean.”  “If she doesn’t want it, then it’s for sale.”  At that point I was overwhelmed with all kinds of doubts and arguments against trying to even have a shofar and my face must have reflected my concerns. 

As I walked up to the table, I eyed the shofar warily wondering just how I would know that this was the right shofar for me.  I had been told that each shofar is unique and there can be a kind of unity between a person and their shofar.  It’s similar to the relationship between a man and his trusty sword or maybe, his staff.  Somehow, it would just feel right.

I gingerly reached out to pick up the shofar.  I didn’t want to be careless or disrespectful with it.  After all, this was a special gift from Elohim to me and I wanted to reflect on that even as I received it.  I was quite awed by its natural beauty and its size.  I hardly felt worthy to receive such a thing.  As my doubts showed, I was assured that if I didn’t want it, there were other people that did.  This wasn’t helping me feel better. 

As other people came around to look at the shofar, a couple of people asked to blow it.  People were impressed with the six notes they were able to produce.  I dared not even try as I was quite sure that I would only look silly.  As I wrestled with my doubts, one thought grew stronger inside of me.  Blowing this shofar over the land of Thailand, my then-current home would definitely have an impact on the place.  My confidence in this thought soon caused all of my doubts to be pushed aside and I settled the deal for my very own shofar. 

As I sat down to prepare for the meeting, a man that I hadn’t seen before came up to me.  He started telling me about shofars and how they were a part of Biblical history and many more things that I had never heard before.  He spoke to me in a quiet voice and all that he told me reaffirmed that I was meant to have this shofar by my side in all of my future spiritual battles.  I started to grow excited about my gift.  He spoke to me for several minutes and then disappeared into the crowd as the meeting started.  I never saw him again. 

I waited until later back in my hotel room to try and blow it for myself.  As I expected, I wasn’t able to produce any kind of sound.  The man who had sold it to me told me that he had taken a while to learn how to blow a shofar.  He said that he had gone out on a lonely mountaintop and sat there for several hours learning to make the sounds that a shofar is supposed to make.  His words gave me encouragement just to wait and pray. 

The next day was the end of the prayer tour.  I had booked several more days in Israel to use in my own explorations.  I was traveling back to Yerushalyem with a few other people from the group.  We were going to stay in the Old City of David for the next few days.  Our tour hosts had found us rooms in a hostel that was nearly at the center of the city.  We would enter the City at the Lion’s Gate and walk down the Via Del la Rosa

Sadly, we were one day after the various Christians had come through in their celebration of their spring holiday and it was not the best day to be coming into the City.  The Arabs had their own tradition of walking those same streets the day after the Christians and shouting out their curses and hatred towards God.  They walked in mobs of raging teenagers hemmed in by grown men that filled the streets from wall to wall. 

It was our challenge to have to pass through the midst of all this rage and hatred.  To say that this was unnerving, if not frightening would not be a stretch.  We found ourselves pressed against the walls and there was no place to go.  One man in our group was desperate to go to the bathroom, but upon entering a public toilet, he was warned to get out or risk serious harm.  He quickly determined that he would wait until we got to the hostel. 

We made our way down the street in a grim and determined mood to get to our rooms and get off the streets as fast as we could.  In the midst of all of this, a very old woman came up to me and grabbed a hold of my shofar.  She was attempting to pull it from my hands to examine it, but I refused to let it go.  In all of the confusion, I didn’t want to have to fight to get it back.  She finally let go of it and passed on her way.  I was relieved to go on my way. 

We had to work our way through a group of hostile looking teenagers that had taken up a perch on the steps of the hostel.  As we got through them to the door, we were buzzed into the first heavy door of the outer wall.  We were warned over a speaker to carefully close the door behind us before we were then buzzed through the next security door.  It was clear that tensions were high on this day and we were getting a bit weary after our trip.  All of us were looking forward to getting to our rooms.

The hostel where we were staying had been built long ago as a hospital.  The walls were thick and the sounds of the City were muted almost to nothing.  I was assigned to a large room that had two single beds and a window overlooking the main intersecting streets outside.  The atmosphere inside the room was as tense and unwelcoming as the streets outside and I was overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding.  Here I was alone and I was quite worn out from the demands of the prayer tour.  It was clear that I was facing an unexpected struggle if I was going to have any peace in this place. 

As I wondered what I was going to be able to do to about my situation, my eyes fell on my shofar.  I had laid it down on the first bed when I came in and tossed my other belongings on the other bed.  I was drawn to pick it up and it came to me that if I could blow the shofar, things just might change.  I had been told that angels love the sound of a shofar and demons hate the sound.  It seems that the time had come to test this out. 

Standing with my back to the door, I carefully lifted the shofar to my lips.  I said a quick prayer for assistance and then I blew.  Lo and behold, this beautiful blast came out of the shofar loud and clear and in my spirit, I heard a sound almost like a “whoosh”.  Every sense of oppression and evil and discouragement and any other negative spirit that had been in the room left within the space of the sound of that single blast and I immediately found myself in a “clean” and peaceful room. 

I was impressed.  I was used to spiritual warfare, but this was a whole new level.  All of my previous battles involved lots of prayer and Scripture quoting and prayer, and the victories always came slowly.  My enthusiasm to hear the sound of a shofar blowing over my home in Thailand was at an all time high.  I couldn’t wait to get home………… (to be continued)

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