Thursday, April 14, 2011

Worship at the Wall

Technology has been wonderful to us, enabling us to share almost daily what has happened to us on this tour of a lifetime. Our very busy last day schedule has not permitted us to finish this blog without buying another hour of computer time on a very busy, early morning, so we write from over the Atlantic Ocean-- 2,500 miles from touchdown at JFK in NYC. Let me fill you in on our last day in the Promised Land. The setting for our last day of this pastor’s educational tour was the bustling town of Jerusalem, filled with faces from around the world. How do I know? Listening to the languages spoken—Russian, German, French, Italian, Hindi, Farsi, proper British English, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch…and on the list goes…it has to….I could not identify them all. They practice many religions, as evidenced by the Muslim call to worship in the streets near the Arab market and the ornate Catholic sepulchers, the bowing and nodding at the Western Wall of the Chasidic Jews and the worship songs sung spontaneously by Protestants visiting the place where Jesus was beaten, awaiting his punishment. Yes, my friends, we joined people from other lands on many occasions to praise the King of King and Lord of All. It was life-transforming. Our hosts, Mark, and our guide, Mr. Ben-David taught us many things about the culture of this land. We spent hours exploring the central location of the Jewish culture on our last day: the Temple Mount. It is there where Jews gather unashamedly to pray, many with Torah in hand. It is there where these folks are joined by non-Jews who also leave their handwritten request gently pushed into a cranny in the wall. We were fortunate that the wall had been cleaned in observation of Passover so there was a lot of room to place a note. Placing a note at that location was significant for my spiritual journey. What I wrote was between me and the Lord. What I sensed sitting writing what was in my heart I will remember forever. After I wrote it, I looked up and came face to face with this massive, rugged dolomite structure. It reminded me of the awesomeness of God. It spoke of the permanence of His presence. I sensed that I was there all by myself in a sea of people and He wanted me there. He cared about what I had written. He would answer my heart cries. The Jews have a custom that your back never faces that Western Wall. You always approach the wall facing it. I was on the women’s side, cordoned off by a 6 foot semi-private man-made fence. I could see the men on the other side in all sorts of stages of prayer and interaction. The ages of the women varied—teens to elderly. They were respectful, submitting their deepest heart cries to their god. One young woman stuck out to me. She had her prayer book over her face and her ear against that Great Wall, in deep conversation. I stretched out my hand with my folded up prayer; it took three tries to find a spot where it would catch and stay. Even then, it fell near the feet of another woman sitting at that Wall. I picked up a note and successfully placed it in the wall. Shuffling backwards, I rejoined my friends. It was a moment I will never forget. I pray that you will encounter our awesome God in a moment like this one day. A moment that shifts your paradigm about who God is in your life, that enlarges the territory of your heart in such a way that God becomes bigger and greater than you can imagine right now. He is awesome; He is permanent; He is your God. Now, let’s live a life of surrender and worship.

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