Finally I ask, "Where are we going?"
"Will you return there with me? I am not finished yet." He is asking me, not demanding of me, without anger or manipulation. We continue to walk while He waits upon my answer.
It takes me a long time to answer. I do not want to return. I ache; my heart is heavy. We keep walking, everything in me screams not to return. Yet I cannot get past the fact that there is no trace of anger in Him at all. Finally I say, "Yes, I will go back."
"It will be hard this time." He says. That is not what I wanted to hear. My heart sinks. "I will let you stand there, I will not sit beside you."
"Why?" I cannot keep from asking, although almost instantly I fear I will provoke Him by doing so.
He is not bothered though. I can only guess that He knows my heart and does not hear challenge in my words. "Because if I do not stretch your faith each time, you will not grow, will not trust me."
This is not an answer I expect. I am not sure I really understand at this point. "I am afraid." I whisper, looking away from Him. I do not want to expose my fear any more than I already have.
"I know" He gently replies, but says nothing more.
"It hurts" my words are more a statement of fact than a protest.
"I know." He again replies. Tenderly, He places His right hand over my arm that is already entwined in His left. I lean against Him and we continue to walk.
I hesitate. I am afraid still; I know that there is more sin awaiting me. I don't think I ever truly realized how much darkness there was still inside of me. I truly thought that I'd cleaned it up and there it was all in pretty good shape. I am shocked at just how wrong I have been, about so many things.
"Share your heart with me, child." His words are an invitation to me to pour out that which is bubbling to the surface.
I am surprise at how easily the words come with Him. I speak the hurts and fears of my heart to Him, telling him the deep things which no one else had heard, things even I did not know--or perhaps admit--until just then. I stop though, recognizing the path that we are taking. I am afraid.
I think He sees this. "Come with me." He says, leading me to a new place. We walk to the top of a hill that I have not seen before. In the distance, He points to a city. "Can you see that place?"
I try to look, but it is hidden with clouds and mist in the distance. "No, there are clouds before it, " I reply. "All I can see is a high spire above the clouds."
"That is your city. The place I am sending you to work, to conquer, to show my grace to others. You can not see it now because of the sin that remains in your heart. It is obscuring your vision. I want you to see this place-- it is beautiful and I want to send you. But you must be able to see it first, before I can send you."
We sit quietly, together on the hilltop for a long time. I look out into the distance, but still cannot see the city any more clearly than before. I think on what He has said. I can not turn my back on it, much as part of me cried out that I should. Finally I say, " I welcome your correction, Lord."
He nods at me, perhaps he is even smiling. "Come walk with me." He helps me to my feet and takes my arm again.