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I stare at the tree for a few moments. Last time we were here it was all so quick there was really no time for think. This is different. Dread builds in me.
“Come sit with Me.” He says, sitting on the lowest limb of the tree.
“I am afraid,” I reply reluctantly.
“Come.” His voice is firm.
I obey. “I am scared, scared that this means I am not good enough, that you will walk away, turn our back on me afterwards, and I will be alone again.” I am surprised at how freely the words tumble out.
“Did I last time?” He asks pointedly.
“No, but I am still afraid.”
“It’s all right.” He reassures me. “We will return until you no longer are afraid. Until you ask Me to meet you here. Until you can receive my corrections in peace and joy.” I feel more than see Him smiling gently.
“You are not angry? Why are you so patient?” I want to receive what He is saying, but it all seems to confusing to me.
“I am not angry—this place—(I realize how beautiful it is again)-is no place for anger. You are here because I love you, not because I am angry with you. I know you and know your heart. I am happy to wait and let you grow. There is no pressure-what ever it takes. Walk the garden-wander through-you are welcome. I will be here when you are ready.”
I am again surprised at the lack of pressure that He is putting on me, His willingness to wait on me. I want to wander, to leave this place. I feed afraid and vulnerable. And yet, I look at Him and feel a peace I have never before felt. I do not want to walk away from Him, to be apart from Him. So I stay. It is quiet for a moment.
Then He begins.
My heart breaks as I see the guilt of my sins. He shows me how I have feared to trust in Him, how very small my faith has been. I have feared rejection because of experiences with my mother and grandmother, but I have forgiven neither of them and have nursed a deep hatred for both. I have made a vow and expectation of rejection, feeling that with my parents and grandparents replaced me and did not like me, who then would? I have begun to anticipate rejection in every interaction. Moreover I have become jealous over every sign of acceptance, both material signs of favor and attention. I have even come to the point of hatred for those who receive those signs of acceptance, especially those who receive attention.
The revelation is heavy. I break seeing the guilt of my sin. The vows I have made, the judgments, the hatred, the way I have refused to forgive, refused to give to others what the Blood of Christ has bought them, holding on to fear and lies in the place of His truth. It is so hard to release and forgive the depth of these wounds!
It hurts! The pain cuts deep, I never knew this was within me. I hate it! It seems to continue for much longer than before, I cry out, "Stop!"
But he does not. My sin is before me and it is vile. I hate looking at it. I try to turn away from Him, but the tree now fills my vision. I see Blood on the tree, which for a brief moment I see as a cross. I see myself stained with filth and now with blood. It is too much.
I slip-fall- and crawl into the niche below the branch. I am afraid to see Him. But He is there. It is quiet for a moment.
"Come." He calls to me. Once again there is no anger in His voice. I hear only patience and love. I do not understand. He reaches down to me, but I cannot reach back. He takes my hand anyway and lifts me to my feet. I begin to cry with heaving sobs. "I have not left you, nor turned by back on you. Come walk with me." He take my arm and wraps it in His.
Quietly we walk together, it seems we are just walking, not really with a destination in mind.