Masada is the 1800 feet by 900 feet plateau where, in 66 AD a group of Jewish radicals (called Sicarii) overcame the Romans. In 71 AD, after the destruction of the temple, the rebels and their families left Jerusalem and settled in what was once the "get-away" palace of King Herod the Great. The following year, the Romans marched against Masada. They failed to overcome the zealots and then built a rampart, using 1000s of tons of stone and sand. This rampart was finished in 73. The Romans could now take control of these Jewish men, women, and children. But when they finally made it to the top of Masada, they found that a mass suicide had occurred. Flavius Josephus records that 960 in all were dead, but that two women and five children hid inside a cistern and were therefore spared.
Today, Masada is a national park. One does not need a good pair of hiking boots to reach the top (although a snake path makes getting there possible for those willing to spend the time and energy). The most common method of reaching the summit is by cable car.
Just before we reached Masada, Larry asked me, "How long does it take inside the cable car?"
"A few seconds," I replied. I thought nothing of the question or my answer.
Then, once we'd reached Masada, had watched a video, and then exited the theater to the cable cars, we all boarded.
Well, all except Larry and Robi.
Larry, I was told by Cheri, was afraid not only of heights, but of closed spaces. "Don't worry," Cheri said. "Robi is talking to him." (Robi is a Masters student of psychology. And, she'd just finished a course on anxiety!) Though I was concerned about Larry, I trusted Robi. And God.
Then I heard someone say, "Larry made it in."
I breathed a sigh of relief. (I fear Larry wasn't breathing at all!)
When we reached the end of our ride and the doors opened, Larry was the first off. When I walked up to him, he was looking straight ahead, not to the left or right and certainly not down! We continued on the path to the extreme top of Masada where we saw a group of people who'd just celebrated a Bar Mitzvah coming toward us. It was a delightful processional, which we were all swept up into.
When they'd gone past us, I looked at Larry.
It was as if he were seeing the beauty of the whole world for the first time. Looking to the east, a picture of the Dead Sea and the hills of Jordan. To the west, the Negev ... naked and rugged. All around, history. Millennium of history.
By the end of our time on Masada, he was practically leaning over the edge of the ancient stone walls, just to take photos!
"My wife won't believe this," he said. "So many things we have not been able to do because of this issue I have ... and now ... I honestly believe I've been healed."
And so do we.
Larry and I spoke of it later ... how fear must have wrapped itself around those who eventually took the lives of their wives and children ... then killing each other until there was only one left. He alone fell on his sword.
Fear can do horrible things to you. It not only cripples, it takes away the joys God has in store for you. Larry grasped all of that and so much more on Masada ...
But there was more healing to come. So much more. And not just for Larry. We just didn't know it yet.