I do not know how long I have slept. But when I wake He is there.
“Come, walk with Me.” He calls to me.
I thought I’d be able, to be happy to walk with Him. I find myself afraid. He takes my arm and begins walking, guiding me back to the garden. His guidance and direction is there, but He does not force. I know that I have a choice.
“Are we going back to the grove and the tree?” I ask, anxious and uncertain.
“Yes,” He replies. But there is no anger, no sadness or disappointment in His voice. I am surprised by the gentleness of His words, His ways. This was not what I had been taught to expect from Him, somehow. I know what I had been told, but somehow, it all still amounted to a very difference picture of who He would be.
“Why?” I asked, with greater boldness that I expect from myself.
“Because I love you.” He replies, a statement of fact, “ I want you close to me, this is the way.” He continues to explain as we walk. “I do not have to be angry. I am not angry with you.”
I ponder His words as we walk, trying to understand how much He is shifting what I have always known, even in these few words. Even so, I find my anxiety growing. Finally I have to say, “I am afraid.”
“I know.” He replies, but is undaunted. He takes my hand though, holding it firmly but reassuringly. “Share your heart with me.”
I am surprised at His request, but I cannot refuse Him. I find myself speaking out the hurts and fears of my heart, of my difficulty in trusting Him, my fears of rejection, things I have spoken to no other. He listens intently as I speak, saying nothing, just listening. Yet, I know where we are going and I am afraid. My heart grows faint. [I see now, much later that my fear in this moment was related to my fear of rejection, I desperately feared that His correction would also mean His rejection].
Abruptly, we change directions. “Come, walk with Me.” He says as we walk to a different part of the stream. We stop at the edge of the water. He plucks a large leaf from a nearby tree and quickly forms a small drinking cup. Handing it to me he bids me, “Drink and be refreshed.”
I fill the cup with the cool water and drink deeply. The water is deeply refreshing and gives me new strength. I drink again and splash water over my face and head. I find I feel much stronger now.
“Are you ready?” He asks me unhurriedly. He is not rushing or pushing me, just encouraging me to recognize what He already knows.
I nod. He takes my arm over His own. “Come walk with Me.” I follow Him and this time He talks with me.
“Child, I want you to know that I love you. This is a place only for those who are close to me. The only way to this place is through my house. Only those who have supped with Me are asked in. And only those who knock are invited into My home.
“You are here with Me because you are close, not because you are rejected. Those outside these walls I must touch in other ways, but here I can speak to you bring corrections directly.
“I want to see you release all the gifts I have given you, to do that, you must be cleansed. Are you willing?”
His voice is so gentle, so reassuring, my fears are eased. “Yes,” I reply, “I am.” My voice is barely a whisper.
“We will return here again and again, until your heart is changed, until you are no longer afraid. Until you no longer fear that I do not accept you or that correction means rejection.” He explains the questions of the inner most part of my heart.
I am embarrassed to hear myself asking, “Will it hurt?”
“Yes.” He does not mince words or try to dodge the truth.
I do not know what to say, so I say nothing. We continue to walk.
“I have placed in you a diamond among the sand. Both are useful and precious in their ways—glass ,silicon—but you are made unique and special for my purposes. Your heart is a diamond—precious. I want others to see what I know is there.
“I called you by name a fragrant offering of thanks, a reminder of my unmerited favor. You will bring that to others that they might receive My grace, through you.”
I try to focus on what He is saying, but it is all so overwhelming, I cannot take it in. Finally, I reply, “Be it unto me according to Thy will.”
And I see that we are there, we have returned to that place of correction.