Finding Living Stones- A story of finding God in living stones! 
It’s been almost a decade ago since I studied in Israel. It was one of the most life-altering and profound experiences of my life. I walk in the footsteps and across the land of prophets and kings and the King Of King, Jesus Himself. I wandered and learned from the northernmost tip of Israel to deep in the Negev. And spent time in beautiful, gritty, divided Jerusalem the eternal “city of peace”. It was there that I had one of the most meaningful spiritual meetings of my entire life. Today and next week I would like to share this experience with you. Let’s begin…

Studying in Israel was truly the best of all bucket list experiences, changing my life forever! It so far exceeded my expectations and wildest dreams as we traveled across Israel, studying and seeing first hand the land of the Bible… learning its history and culture, living with its people and learning about the Jewish roots of Christianity. 
The one thing I anticipated the very most about this trip was visiting the Western Wall. The Western Wall is one of the most sacred sites for all Jews. As a Christian, it held great significance for me too!
Without getting too deep… here is a little history of the Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem…
The Western Wall, located in the old city of Jerusalem, is the remains of the western retaining wall around the Temple Mount. It was built by King Herod.. the same king who tried to kill Jesus when he was a baby. Why is the wall such a sacred place? Here is the very interesting part, and stay with me on this…
The sacred Jewish Temple that sat on the Temple Mount was destroyed in 70 AD by the Roman Empire and was never rebuilt.
The Jewish Temple held the most sacred place on earth… the HOLY OF HOLIES! This was a place in the Temple where the very glory of God …the Shekinah glory… dwelt on earth, among God’s people, the Jews! It was a place on earth that God himself dwelt!
Believe it, this is true!!!

Only the retaining wall was left after the Romans destroyed the Temple… and thus the HOLY OF HOLIES was also destroyed.

 The part of the retaining wall that would have been closest to the HOLY OF HOLIES is the Western Wall… Hence, it’s religious significance.

The Western Wall is the closest point on earth, that is accessible to the Jews, nearest to where the  HOLY OF HOLIES and the presence of God once stood.
Now let’s return to my trips and studies in Jerusalem…
I had imagined making my way to the Western Wall for months and months before actually every getting to Israel! I just knew God’s presence would be there… like no other place on earth! I was prepared for a face-to-face encounter with the very God of the universe!!! And I wanted this more than anything I had ever wanted in my life!
I had collected prayer request written on pieces of paper from friends and family put in the cracks of the wall ( a custom) and had written pages of my own prayers to leave there. They had been carefully secured in my suitcase for the long pilgrimage to this sacred place!
I remember ascending (or as the bible says, “going up “) to Jerusalem one hot summer evening after dark.  It is one of the most overwhelming sights I have ever seen. I was pressed to the glass of the bus window trying to make my mind believe what my eyes were seeing! 
The huge wall (not the Western Wall) around the entire old city was softly lit… casting a golden glow into the dark night sky! Was this real… was I really entering through the thick stone arch of the Jaffa gate into JERUSALEM?
Our bus made its way through the quiet streets to a guest house at Alexander College in the old city across from the Tower of David. A group of us were determined to get a glimpse of the Western Wall… even though it was late at night. Hurriedly we got our bags to our room then stared down the labyrinth of narrow streets towards the Western or Wailing Wall.  At the bottom of a long, wide set of stairs was a low balcony and beyond that we could finally look down on the Wall… which was lit up much like the wall around the old city.

What I was not ready for was the security checkpoints that scared the beauty of the panorama before me and the guards with machine guns dotted here and there, keeping an ever watchful eye!  Looking beyond the security I could see where I had a date with God… where God would touch my heart like He had never done before!

The wall was huge… stories high.. and just like most of the city, the color of sand. In the summer all of Israel seemed to be the color of sand! The wall was made from of huge hewn blocks of stone tightly stacked on top of one another. It surely was a mighty retaining wall!  Our group spent time taking pictures and excitedly talking in hushed tones about being in the old city… still quite unbelievable!

We were everyday people who had become willing yet rather unlikely scholars of this beautiful land and God’s inspired Word.

For tonight all I could do was look at the Western Wall.. but tomorrow… that would be the day!

The next morning I was so anxious I could not eat breakfast… and the heat of the 100 degree day was distractingly oppressive. I was jumpy and nervous… and already very emotional. Finally, the day had come to meet God in a totally different way.
Our group started down to the Western Wall just before noon. The security checks were thorough and invasive, but I was so focused on what I was about to experience I would have gladly stripped naked and walked on my hands to get to the Wall!
The men and women were separated at that point. Men went to the left to the “men’s area” of the Western Wall.
The women, wearing holy garb… leg covered, shoulders covered and head covered, went to the right… to the “women’s area of the Wall. A large white partition, a little taller than myself, divided us. Men and women did not worship at the Wall together. An orthodox custom dating back a long long time.
As I got closer to the wall I could see an old Jewish woman were selling red threads. These were to be tied around one’s wrist to bring good luck or to ward off the “evil eye” (ayin rah). A woman thrust a red thread into my hand. I handed her a few shekels in return.  I later found out that this is just part of the modern tradition of being at the wall. Sorta like a souvenir. Not even the holiest places are immune from commercialism, I thought!
I approached the Wall almost breathless knowing that I was standing on holy ground! My knees were literally knocking! I adjusted the white filmy scarf with shaky hands covering my head so it hid my shoulders and upper arms as a sign of respect and modesty.  Placing the prayer requests that filled my pockets in the cracks and crevices in the Wall I kept repeating to myself, “Don’t forget this moment… don’t forget this moment”, over and over!

Women on either side of me were praying. Some bobbing their scarf covered heads back and forth, some stuffing their written prayers into the cracks in the Wall too, and some standing as still as the stones themselves. It was not as quiet as I thought it would be. Not that it was loud… but there was a dull hum of whispering and what I thought must be praying.

 Gently, I reach out and placed each hand a little more than shoulder height against the Wall and let my forearms collapse against the Wall, too. Then I rested my forehead against the smooth stone. I was very surprised how hot the mammoth stone was! So hot I thought I had probably burnt my skin! But instead of removing my arms and forehead from the wailing wall I pressed in closer.
And then I started to pray. It got hotter and hotter. I could feel the intense heat from the stone burning my cheeks. The heat made rivulets of sweat run down my face. This was no way to meet God… burnt and wringing wet with sweat!
I put those trivial thoughts out of my mind and again focused on meeting God… He knew I was coming! I had many a conversation with HIM about “when I meet YOU at the Wall” for months before this day! After all this was the closest place to the spot on earth that the very presence of God resided with men.

I kept praying… waiting for God to fill me with His presence. To make my face shine like Moses… to hear His audible voice like the prophets… to be touched like Jesus touched the lepers!

Time got lost in prayer. Time, what was time in the presence of the great One who created it?

Praying … and… praying … and praying… until I ran out of prayers… and… nothing! 
Just more and more unbearable heat billowing from the holy stones… and more and more sweat pouring down my forehead and off the tip of my nose. And now tears of hurt mingled with the sweat.  They stung my eyes… they broke my heart! Is this why they call it the Wailing Wall?
What went wrong? Where was He? “God, you know I am waiting for You! You know I came all this way!  You know this meeting was to be the highlight of my life!”
“Wasn’t I supposed to meed You here?”
No answer… no feeling… No God! At least I should feel your presence in these holy stone, right? But I felt NOTHING!
There I stood against the stone for a great long time of nothingness! No prayers, no relief, no God. Just a whole lot of nothing!
I slowly peeled myself from the hot stones holding me up. I was a puddle. Melted by the heat of the day and liquefied by the emotion of being stood up by God!  
How do you pick up a puddle… How does it walk or continue a tour… or write in its journal?  Can a puddle eat lunch or make small talk… or even breathe? How does a puddle put its heart back together…
Next Sunday… the conclusion of Finding Living Stones!
Here are some images of the Western wall for you to enjoy.

Men’s area of the Western Wall…

 Women’s area of the Western Wall…

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  1. What a wonderful story. I can’t wait to hear the end of this one about the living stones.

    1. Dorothy Boyson says:

      I feel blessed to have experienced your visit to the Wall; I feel that I have actually been there. I can hardly wait to read the next part of your journey, God speed.

  2. I’ve been to this awefilled wall,too…filled with prayer and anticipation. I look forward to your continued story , dear sister.

  3. Good morning Yvonne,
    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience with us. I know it will have a beautiful outcome, because our Lord is always on time.

  4. penni Brown says:

    I enjoyed, very much reading your account of visiting the Western Wall, and I anxiously await its conclusion! I am excited to read your insights -you always have a perspective that motivates! Just reading this ‘part one’ reminds me of my own journey on the subject…
    For years, in my studies, I always thought “I *need* a Jerusalem trip!”. As my testimony has grown I realize that no matter where I am, God will never be more close to me there than He is a reality to me here. My relationship with God is as real and close as *I* make it. The scriptures teach us to “pray always” and to “always remember Him” and if we do these things in a real way, He *is* always with us! I love watching “Fiddler on the Roof”, I love how they show the relationship Tevye has with God, how he chats, debates, just talks with God all day long as if He, God were actually standing there in front of him…which is the point, with Tevye, He is.

  5. A profoundly beautiful account of an extraordinary experience. A visit to the Holy Land has been a life long dream for me. I pray that it can still happen despite (the 2000 year plus) conflict and violence there.
    I look forward to your conclusion next Sunday.
    Blessings on your week Yvonne.

  6. Beautiful story…so far. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Susan Roberts says:

    Hi Yvonne!
    I love listening to your podcast and I have always felt a kindred spirit with you and after reading your post this morning I see why! We are sisters In Christ!
    Thank you for your transparency and your beautiful testimony of love for Jesus! I am excited to be taking a trip to Israel in January so your story of the Wailing Wall really drew my heart and attention, but this morning as I read, in tears, I am more encouraged by the light that you are able to share through your platform into the lives of so many who need Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star! I will be praying for you as God continues to use your life and testimony to reach into the lives of women all over the world through Stone Gable and the gifts He has given you! Thank you!

  8. I will await next week’s conclusion of this thought provoking story. Your written words painted a very detailed and emotional description of your experience in The Holy Land. I could “feel” the heat from the wall!

  9. Thank you for this inspiring post.

  10. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

  11. oh how I love your story and oh how I love Israel! I have been to Israel twice (so far) returning home feeling restored and renewed with another part of my reconciled to a loving Father! I thought also, how could hold myself up as I was getting closer and closer to the ancient wall. I have never felt so moved as I was standing there with all the other women, praying for so much. For me, being there connected the Old Testament with the New without any borders! (blank page) Can hardly wait for the rest of your story!!! shalom my friend!

  12. Wow! Beautiful post! You have a gift of making others feel your experience…

  13. Livonna Martin says:

    I was so blessed by your recount of your trip to the Wailing Wall. I can’t wait until we hear the rest of the story. May God continue to use you and bless you in all your efforts.

  14. I never realized that people put actual prayer requests into the Wailing Wall. Thank you for explaining this and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

  15. Israel is on my bucket list, thank you for the details of the wailing wall.

  16. Karen K from Buffalo says:

    This is fascinating!! I can’t wait to read the rest of your story!!!!!

  17. What a wonderful story you have given us. I can not wait until next Sunday to hear your conclusion. I am most sure God will be there for you, as he always is.

  18. Oh my! I wait in anticipation for the ending of your story! I just know God will not disappoint, He will be rhere!

  19. I can’t wait for the rest of the story Yvonne….you writing has left me anticipating something very beautiful is to come.

  20. Norma Rolader says:

    Oh my how wonderful and loving

  21. I learn every week when I read here. It helped me to understand the wailing wall. No one ever explained it to me. I hope I remember.
    I liked how you told us it’s the closest place on earth to the Holy of Holies.
    I’ve alea thought about how the Raiders of the Lost Ark reminds us that the Ark is lost for a reason. We as Christians know why! Because Jesus made the way for God to dwell in Believers. ?✝️
    I’m excited for next week.
    I’m lying down and resting. It takes so little for me to feel odd in the head. Blessings.

  22. Oh my Yvonne. I want to hear the whole story!!!!! Can’t wait. You need to write a book about your trip. So inspired by how you tell us about the Lord.
    Thank you