2010 - Holding Back Destiny

This piece was very deeply personal for me to work on and took several months to complete. Not because of the art itself but because of the process God was taking me through during its creation.

It was in February, 2010 that God showed me this picture. I was experiencing a very frustrating time in my life. Nothing seemed to be changing. I felt like each day was utterly predictable and completely stagnant. There seemed to be no change in any area while others around me seemed to be moving on in their lives. Careers and relationships were opening for them. Why not me? Every time I tried to step out and do something, make something change, it seemed I had merely gone through a revolving door and found myself back where I started.

I can remember lying on my bed in the dark with tears running down my face and asking God, "Why isn't my life unfolding? Why is it taking so long for anything to change? Why are you not moving me forward? Why does it seem like every time I try to step out I end up right back in the same place? Why do I feel so trapped?"

And then suddenly I saw this picture. It was so clear it was like watching it on the back of my eyelids. I saw myself standing in a very green narrow valley with mountains that rose up sharply on both sides. The grass was lush and it was beautiful. There was like a distant fog that obscured my view down the valley in front of me.

"You are so concerned about not being able to see way out there that you cannot even enjoy the beautiful place I have you," I heard God say.

Then the picture changed and I saw myself from the front as in the picture above, holding a beautiful multi-colored bird against my chest by its wings. I knew the bird's name was Destiny. It was not struggling to be free but there was this look of longing in its posture as it looked up at the sky and leaned forward, wanting to fly but being held back.

I heard God say, "You are asking Me why it is taking so long for your life to unfold and yet you are the one holding it back. It [destiny] was made to fly. You are so afraid that if you let it go, it will fly away and never come back. But it will return to you. Let it go."

God then brought me immediately to a question John Arends had asked us maybe a few weeks before at Encounter: "What things are keeping you from being closer to Jesus?"

When John had asked that question, I knew immediately that Youtube was one of them for me. Let me explain. Youtube was where I went when I felt overwhelmed, stressed, lonely, or just needed to relax. I spent hours watching movies, usually black and whites or period films, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. It was my escape. My way of dealing with no change. I could experience adventure, happiness, love, and friendship for a few hours and forget my life. It was a way I could experience the things I longed for so much, things that I was afraid I might never experience in real life. A kind of “at least I have this…” mental attitude.

He showed me that fear was holding my destiny back. It was out of fear that my life would never change that I kept returning to things to escape. I was afraid to let God truly heal loneliness and rejection in my life because I felt that if I did not feel anything in those areas then they REALLY would never happen. My pain was my meter that told God how much I wanted those things. Basically, I was wounded deep inside and did not really want to be healed. And that was holding my future back from me.

I woke up that next morning with clear instruction from God. I was to paint the picture of me holding back destiny and put it up next to my computer as a constant reminder of what I am doing every time I act in fear. Every time I go to another source instead of Him, I am holding back destiny.

I wish I could say I got it right away but I didn’t. The picture was difficult to work on because I could see myself so clearly and wasn’t sure how to deal with it. Many times while painting on it I would pray, “God, I do not know how to let go. Show me how to let go of the fears. Show me how to trust You. I don’t know how.”

Then one day, I turned on worship music and started to paint. I have a playlist of songs on my computer that I just add to randomly. Some of the songs I’ve only listened to the first line and added it without truly listening to the whole thing. Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards was one such song. I was painting down on my knees in the middle of the floor of my room when suddenly her song came up in the playlist. It was like listening to my own heart cry.

“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You
I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful
I once believed that love was a momentary bliss
But love is more than this
All You ever wanted was my attention
All You ever wanted was love from me
All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at Your feet
Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love
Then love has to be more than sentiment
More than selfishness and selfish gain
And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through me
I could not escape those beautiful eyes
And I began to weep and weep
He had arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding
Love’s definition, love’s definition was looking at me
Looking at Him, hanging on a tree
I began to weep and weep and weep and weep
This is how I know what love is, this is how I know what love is
And as I sat there weeping, crying
Those beautiful eyes, full of desire and love
He said to me, “You shall love Me, You shall love Me
You shall love Me, You shall love Me”
With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding
If anybody’s looking for love in all the wrong places
If you’ve been searching for love, come to Me, come to Me
Take up your cross, deny yourself
Forget your father’s house and run, run with Me
You were made for abandonment, wholeheartedness
You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so follow Me
And You’ll come alive when you learn to die

There was my answer. You shall love me with arms wide open and heart exposed.

I sat on the floor and just wept. That song was the turning point for me. The Father’s love is so awesome! The answer is so simple. His perfect love casts out all fear and turns it out of doors. I am to love Him with my arms wide open and heart exposed. Nothing between us. Nothing keeping me from Him.

My whole reason for sharing this (and it has not been easy for me) is to encourage you to examine your own life.

Let me ask you the question: “What things are keeping you from getting closer to Jesus?” You know what they are. They are usually the first things that flash through your mind.

God is not asking you to give them up because He is looking to take away things you enjoy. He sees that they are holding your life back. They are keeping you from walking in all He has created you to be. It is like wanting to carry a chain with you into freedom. It cannot be done. Instead of going forward, you will stay behind, bound to something you do not want to be free from. Let Him free you from those things! Love Him with your arms wide open. Hold nothing back. Give it all and let Destiny soar in your life. And in that, you will truly find everything.

Loving Him,
Amanda J. Wunderlich