The lessons we learn in life are reflective of the experiences we have gone through. I can remember thinking how wise my grandmothers were as they gave insight to situations that I found difficult. Both of my grandmothers have now gone on to be with their Lord, but what I realize is that each experience, each choice, each lesson molds and changes us to to have greater understanding. As we face the next “big” moment, hope is found in knowing that God not only is faithful, but is also constant as He walks us through the ups and downs of life.
I would like to share one such moment with you along my journey.
We were blessed to go to Israel in March of 2010 with our Pastor and church family.
I knew walking in the steps of Jesus would be amazing, but the transformation within myself, I did not expect.
“Hands Wide Open”
By Lori Clounie
My mind wants to believe that if I try hard enough, I am in control, yet once again life seems to slap me back into reality. I am reminded that this illusion I have created is only a misconception.
My bubble is popped and I am left with this truth.
Control belongs to the creator, not the created. Choice on the other hand is ours to choose.
Is it not our’s to decide if we embrace or ignore the circumstance or situation before us? Choice can involve a negative or positive reaction and has the power to change not only our perspective but also those who may be under our influence.
I have always chosen to cling, that is until God pried back my fingers and unleashed my heart, freeing me to experience this whole new viewpoint.
Today I find myself standing in front of the Wailing Wall.
A unique place indeed, yet its purpose is what draws people from every nation to visit it daily. Designed Jewish by intent; yet played out universal by desire.
Can you imagine scribbling out your deepest thoughts? Your prayers condensed, folded and twisted into a one-inch piece of paper? Your hopes left desolate, waiting in walls of stone, only to be pushed out by the next earnest visitor?
Still day after day, men and women of every nation faithfully go forward inserting their dreams, hopes and desires between the crevices of this brick structure, praying for answers from their God, Jehovah.
Today I am one of them.
My reason for being here is for the sake of tradition and intrigue, along with the minor fact that our “Holy Land” Tour Guide has brought us here. Unlike some, my belief is wasted on the spiritual purpose derived by so many at this destination, for my faith is found in a most sovereign God, who hears from our hearts not from the wall of a city.
We begin to walk and the men separate from the women, each of our heads covered in respect. Visions of prayerful men bobbing and chanting stand just beyond the wall dividing us. I begin visually taking in this ancient Jewish ritual. Prayers and whispers fill the corridor, yet amazingly, I am not affected.
For just a moment, my mind stands still and words escape me.
I walk forward. Prayers from home are tucked closely at my side. Respectfully, I go though this act of protocol. Faces intent on the wall surround me as mumblings consume this place. Still, my heart feels empty.
Anxious thoughts move in and seem to overtake me.
Just days before our trip, I found myself faced with an awful dilemma. Work related pressures have attempted to consume me. I have pretended with smiles and disguise my anguish covering it with friendly conversation within the group. Determined to allude myself, I push them out of my mind. Once again in this moment, they have returned. Like dew on the early morning grass, they attempt to lay claim to my faith.
Pulling me. Tugging.
My heart is heavy. My hands gripped, while my mind proclaims, “I need control!”
Truth presides and I am keenly aware, God is here. My heart cries out. Words are amiss and I am frozen as if I have never prayed before. Carefully I tuck my friend’s prayers into the slits.
I watch as hundreds have fallen out onto the ground, one person’s prayers pushed out by another.
Tears begin rolling down my face. “My life feels this way God.“
“My life is falling and crashing to the ground just as these prayers have fallen.“
I am overwhelmed and begin to draw closer to the wall.
I press my face firmly into the bricks and lift my hands, extending them over my head.
I begin widening, stretching my grip, extending my fingers as far as I can.
God floods my heart with prayers from the soul. The spirit speaks on my behalf knowing my thoughts, my fears.
“Out of my hands God and into Yours.”
I cry out and release my anxiety.
My face is drenched with tears of sorrow bathed in gratitude.
Not only are my hands wide open, but now also my heart.
My fears, my dreams, the anxiety of financial burden, our children, families, parents and my husband
….one by one each falls through this visual release and into His hands.
I am still.
God came not because of the place in which I stand, but because my heart kneels humbly before His.
Respectfully in tradition, I walk backwards noting this choice I have made.
My hands remain spread open, reminding me that it is just the beginning of this commitment.
“Out of my hands, into Yours.”
In this very moment my heart has been changed forever. God performed miracles not only tangibly but also within me. Weeks later, the challenges I faced were resolved by God’s provision, covering our needs as only He could.
What I did not realize was how quickly I would find myself on my knees, being drawn once again back to this place of release over and over again.
Today my mother Elaine is facing Stage 4 cancer. Today, just six months after my surrender of all that I hold dear, I am faced with a choice.
My hands begin to close tight, my knuckles ache and I know it is time to come again to the “wall” in my heart and and choose to let go. “Out of my hands, into Yours.”
God always catches what we release.
I find as Christians, that as we pray and release our biggest fears into His grasp, our expectation and hope is that God will spare us this pain because we belong to Him, but often He does not.
So, releasing is trusting.
Trusting that God has my heart in mind, as He knows me best.
Trusting He is sovereign, able. But trusting is more than these things.
Trusting believes through a broken heart that there is more. Much more.
My mother died just five months after her diagnosis. Heart broken I walk beside my Savior. In reflection I realize that I too lay safely in His hands, not fallen to the ground disregarded, but held.
Hands wide open Lord.
Forever changed. Forever Held.