We walk a few steps more into the waters and encounter a gate beneath the water as the flow from the waterfall becomes the moat.
“These gates hold the monsters in their places and keep them away from one another. They must be opened for you to reach and overcome each one.” He explains.
I reach out for the gate. The grid is made of a heavy metal; the thick bars are rough against my hands. I pull at it hard, surprised when it gives way beneath my grasp. The murky water rushes in, swirling in with the clean. Clear water rushes to takes its place, slowly infiltrating the darkness beyond the gate. I begin to push forward, through the gate, but stop short, realizing that I am alone. “Papa!” I cry. He is there, but He is behind me now. I rush back to Him.
“Stay with me, do not go off on your own with this. If you stay with me, nothing here can harm you. You are clothed in my robe, you need no other protection but to stay with Me.” He warns me purposefully.
“What am I to learn as we wait?” I ask certain that this time is not to be wasted.
“To stay with Me, to focus your eyes and ears on Me, to keep your arm in Mine.” His answer seems so simple. “Where I am taking you in the future will require you to do this. I will take you places you could never have gone still holding on to your fears. You will travel, alone, to teach and minister. You will be known as Grace, not by the name you family has given, not by the name your husband has given, but by the name I have given you. You will have to keep your eyes on Me, not be distracted by what may be bumping you under the water.”
Involuntarily, I glance down at the waters and see how much they have cleared. I see small fish, brightly colored koi, swimming just beneath the surface. Together now, we begin to walk through the clearing water. I see now that the water is teeming with these small fish, kept small by the monsters that dwell beyond. The water is cold and growing colder. I see a black form under the water, like a small shark, eating the small fish. A knot of fear rises and I realize this is the monster in the moat!
“Do not concern yourself with it yet.” He directs.
His direction makes no sense though! The creature bumps my leg, making its presence clearly known to me.
He guides me to continue walking with Him to the gate that separates this section, this monster from the next. “You must lift this gate next for us to get through to the next one.”
“But we haven’t yet conquered this one!” I protest before I realize what I am saying.
“We will. Stay close to Me. Do not try to move this gate yet, lest the next creature swallow up this one and become stronger.”
So we stand at the second gate, where the water is still murky and dark and wait. As we wait, a huge storm brews—wind, thunder, rain—and it is cold! What do I do? What is it?
“Do not be afraid or distracted from what you are trying to do. Stand fast, it will pass.” His voice is steady, unwavering.
The cold penetrates me and I begin to shiver.
“Come closer.” He stands behind me, wrapping His arms around me to keep me warm. I am grateful for His warmth to hold me through this storm. I press into Him as the storm finally passes.
I find myself distracted by my own thoughts and abruptly realize that He is no longer standing behind me! “Where are you!” I cry.
“Here,” He quickly responds, as He walks back to the first gate.
I rush to catch up with Him. “Where are we going?” I am confused.
“To catch the monster.” He replies.
I do not have a chance for fear to gather as I see fish fleeing past me. I feel a hard bump in my belly. Then again! And again! It is the monster.
“What do I do?” I exclaim in fear.
“Grab it by the tail!” He directs calmly, seemingly undisturbed by this turn of events.
I feel it bump me again; I reach into the cold, dark waters. My hands find the beast and I grab its tail. It struggles hard against my grasp, trying to bite my arm. But I fight it and its teeth do not find purchase. Its teeth are huge! Black and jagged in an impossibly large mouth.
“What is it? Take this from me Papa!” I have followed His direction, but do not what to do now. Fear rises in me, what is this thing? What do I do with it?
“It is fear. Fear of being wrong, fear of making a mistake.” He replies, revealing the monster for what it is.
It struggles even harder against my grasp, not wanting to be removed from its feeding ground. “Help me, Papa!”
He takes my hands in His and together we lift it out of the water and strike it against the bank, again and again.
“I repent of this fear! I repent of harboring it, of keeping it alive. I repent of the vow I have made not to make mistakes. I am not allowed to make mistakes! Forgive me for believing this!”
We throw the limp, heavy beast out of the water. It lands with a dull thud on the bank. The creature begins to flail and flop on the ground, trying to get back to the water.
“Behead it.” He simply directs.
Awkwardly, I take my sword and wade to the struggling beast. I am not sure how to use this weapon though. Suddenly I see—the repentant are loved! (1Jn1:9) He will not turn me away for my mistakes! It is not perfection that He demands, but a repentant heart! The sword in my hand flashes down and beheads the creature. Finally it lays still.
“What do I do with it?” I ask, turning back to Him.
“Leave it on the bank, it will nourish the flowers.” He does not seem concerned with it.
Already the fish are gathering to us, tickling. I realize that I have bread in my hands to feed them. He watches as I feed the fish; the waters are teeming with life!
“It’s gone, Papa, it’s gone!” I exclaim in relief. This was not as bad as I had feared.
“When you repented of the fear that has been handed down through your family the monster began to shrink. As you stay beside me, these things will be small.” He assures me, reminding me that He will not leave me.
“Thank you for being Papa in this place now! I am so glad you are here.” I whisper. He holds me close for a long time as we stand there in the clearing waters.