by Christian Henry | Texas A&M
Passages Alum

 

Before traveling to Israel, I felt like I had been a bit in isolation. Moving 15 hours from home hit me harder than I expected. Although I had an aunt and two of my best friends with me in Texas, I was essentially on my own in College Station, and I had trouble finding a place where I wanted to share my faith. I had been trying multiple churches on my own, but I didn’t really feel like I fit anywhere. Community is such an important part of the Christian faith, and my lack of true, deep community was definitely taking a toll on me and my faith. This of course was exacerbated by normal school stressors and my long distance from home. So I was bringing my strained relationship with God along with my all my physical baggage as I ventured for Israel.

All of this changed as I walked through the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Being with all of the other participants on the trip and experiencing every hot, humid and incredible moment, lightened the load I was carrying. All of the serious and silly conversations slowly began to peel back the layers of exhaustion and isolation that I had felt for the past several months. However, there was one moment that left me speechless.

One of the most famous sights in Israel is the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall. It was the one place that I wanted to see even before the trip was planned. I had heard about and seen photos and videos of it, but knew that it was something I wanted to experience firsthand. That afternoon before we headed for the wall, I wrote my prayer to God and folded it up as small as I could. Walking through the Christian Quarter and up to the actual wall, I felt almost nervous. I got that same feeling that you have when you open important mail: a little anxious and excited all at the same time.

In the Jewish tradition, it is believed that the presence of God never left the Western Wall because it was once a part of the Temple. I could see several people walking up to the wall with more thoughtfulness than usual. All of them were trying to put a hand on the place where God resides. As I got to a spot where I could actually touch the wall, I began to pray, and about a minute in I heard a girl next to me approach the wall and begin to weep. She was crying as if from relief and desperation, like she finally reached the point where God could hear her and that was what she wanted most: just to be heard. I began to cry with her and pray with her because her prayers seemed so much more urgent than mine.

When I was done, I walked away from the wall in silence; I felt different. This is partially because I left about a quart of tears and all of my makeup at the wall, but also because I was a little lighter. Part of my prayer was to let go of all of the things I had been holding on to: my school work, relationships, future plans. As a Christian, I had been told a million times to give these things to God and let him work them out, and like the stubborn girl I am, I only did it in word. I would say that I trusted him, but acted like I still had to fix things on my own. You know the saying “if you wanna get things done…” But, something changed at the wall. Hearing someone else be so affected by her expression of faith, made me think “why can’t I trust the God that I believe is with me every single minute?” We were different in so many ways, but I could feel her faith. Having that moment, reminded me of how great God truly is. He is big enough to bring me across the Atlantic, introduce me to other Christians and connect me to a stranger at a wall. That means He is big enough to handle everything I put on that little slip of paper. Of course, I am human and may still fall into my stubborn do-it-yourself attitude, but because of that moment, I have a constant reminder that I am not doing it alone.