"For the past couple of months, I have felt like God has been calling me to go to the Holy Land ever since I saw a pamphlet about a pilgrimage being led by my parish priest in February 2020. Every day, I have prayed for God’s guidance, especially for Him to guide me in discerning whether or not I should sign up for this trip. There have been a few hardships with committing to signing up, such as being a full-time student and the high costs of this trip, but I knew if I was supposed to go that God would provide.
After many weeks of prayer, I was sitting alone in my room and wondering what God has planned for my life. As soon as I became deep in prayer and felt God’s presence with me, I had a vision. A beautiful, yet sorrowful vision of Jesus with the crown of thorns. I remember distinctively He had His head slightly tilted down, His eyes were closed, His hair was bronze/brown, and half of His face was lit with a dark background. I opened my eyes and I couldn’t believe what I had seen in my heart. I closed my eyes again, prayed, and the vision reappeared. I did this several times, and each time His face reappeared with the crown of thorns.
Days and weeks went by, and each time I prayed I kept having this same exact vision of my Lord with the crown of thorns. Every detail was the same. I knew in my heart that I was supposed to paint this image that I had been blessed to receive. Even though I knew I was called to paint this image, I still was wondering what I was called to do with the trip to the Holy Land. However, I noticed that every time I would pray about the trip to the Holy Land, this vision would pop back into my head. I knew that before I could even think about going to the Holy Land, I needed to paint this first.
As school began to fill my schedule, I put this painting project on the back burner. Then, I began to have the song, “Were You there when they Crucified My Lord?” play within my heart, and immediately the vision of Jesus would come right back. Over and over and over, I would be walking to class, in the car driving, in the grocery store, or in class, and I would have this song playing in my heart and I knew God was telling me to get busy.
One day after classes, I took a trip over to the craft store and started gathering the supplies I would need to create this painting. When I arrived, I was about the only person in the store, besides the workers. All of a sudden, doubt started to get the best of me. I was questioning, should I even be here? Is this really God’s Will for me to paint this image? Should I just put everything in my cart back and leave? Why would God choose me to be worthy to paint His Holy Face? I was really tempted just to leave. In the midst of all of my doubt, something caught my attention. A song, but not just any song. THE song. Over the store’s radio was a single violinist playing the song, “Were You there when they Crucified My Lord?” I couldn’t believe my ears, and I was wondering if was all my imagination. But God was speaking to me, right there in the middle of the store. He affirmed me that I was indeed supposed to paint this image. I almost started crying in the middle of the craft store because it was just so beautiful that God would send me the same song that always brought me back to the vision I received of Jesus with the crown of thorns.
Earlier this summer, I created a painting that took me nearly three months to finish. However, this painting only took me two days to complete. God guided my entire process start to finish. The funny thing was that after I completed the painting on day 2, that same night, my mom and I signed up to go to the Holy Land. I kept remembering what God told me when I kept praying about the Holy Land weeks ago, which was that ‘before I could even think about going to the Holy Land, I needed to paint this first’.
I titled this painting, “Sanctus Dominus,” which is Latin for “Holy Lord.” He is Holy in all things, and He is calling all of us to be Holy. My heart’s intention during this whole process is to obey God’s will for my life. I know He is calling me to go to the Holy Land to grow in Holiness. I pray He will use this painting to bring people closer to Himself, as well as help me with the expenses of this pilgrimage.
Also, special thank you to Dr. and Kathy Nemeh! I am beyond grateful to know you two, who are so willing and generous to help me share this painting with others, to bring people closer to Christ, and to help me raise money for the trip to the Holy Land!
Blessings to all,
If you're interested in purchasing the painting. Please reach out to Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.