We walk on in quiet for a while longer.
“Are you still angry?” I ask timidly.
“No, rebuke is only for the moment. I cannot allow you to disobey Me.” He pauses for a moment. “You can go back to the house if you choose.”
“No, no!” I respond without thinking. “I want to stay with you, Papa! Please!”
He pats my hand and holds my arm close. I think He is smiling.
As we quietly walk together I dwell on the things He has shown me. I see my disobedience, how like Jacob I am. I am manipulative, afraid of not getting my own way. I claim obedience, but I am not. I fear that perhaps I am not faithful either.
His rebuke still stings. I see how much easier things would have been had I been able to simply obey. He offers me salve for the sting of the rebuke. I consider it for a moment.
“Please, Papa God, no. I need the pain for now. I need this pain to remember by. I know I will need your rebuke again, but I want to avoid it. This would help me obey.” I fear my protest will anger Him.
But instead, He nods. I think He is smiling as well.
As we continue on our way I find my mind starting to clear. I see things I have never seen before. I am beginning to understand. It all comes pouring out before I can think to stop it.
“Thank you, Papa, for your rebuke—I see now there was no other way for me to do what I was told, nothing else would have made me willing!” He leans down to kiss the top of my head. I never before have known true, honest, deserved rebuke, without manipulation or guilt. Always before, rebuke had been soiled by manipulation and controlling guilt, making me feel rejected, disconnected. I realize that is the source of my exhaustion! That is why I feel so distant!
He kisses me again and draws me close, holding me and helping me reconnect with Him. In His embrace I feel a new joy swelling in me. “Thank you for the rebuke, Papa!” I pause a moment, realizing,” I can do it now!” The realization dawns on me like a sunbeam breaking through the storm clouds. “I can expose myself to You! I can let you see me!”
I feel more than see the smile breaking forth over His face. “Let me see you,” He speaks, pleasure rather than firmness in His voice now. Easily now I am able to shed His robe and let Him see me. I stand naked before Him once again and I am not trembling.
“Let me touch you now.” This time, it is an invitation more than a command. He has the salve in His hands again. Generously He spreads it on my face, firmly yet tenderly rubbing it into my face and my hair. His touch is glorious this time! I close my eyes, savoring it, welcoming it. Across my shoulders, chest, back, belly, legs—He covers me completely. The salve is warm and the warmth penetrates throughout my body, bringing with it peace and refreshing.
“Come, let Me heal you.” He leads me to a table, maybe a large flat rock, that I had not seen before and guides me to lie down. I feel His hand heavy on my heart, mending, and changing. Then there is a heaviness in my belly as He removes old appetites. He presses my thigh and there is a gush of blood-life returning to me! I am struck when I realize there is no pain! I feel the intensity of His work, but His salve has taken the pain away. Gently, He rolls me over. He strengthens my spine, removes the scars from my back. But still I ask Him to leave me the pain of His rebuke for a little while longer. He consents.
Finally, He covers me once again with His robe. Again, He anoints my hands and feet. I find that I love the strength of His touch, it is soothing and restoring. As He finishes, He ties sandals on my feet. They are relatively plain, made of heavy leather, lacing with many straps across the top of my feet and up my claves, half way to my knee. Though plain, they are well made and protective.
“You will need these.” He tells me, smiling on me. He reaches out to embrace me, holding me close again.
I marvel that His rebuke has suddenly become so sweet.