Even in the safety of His arms, I find myself becoming distracted and confused. Is all this real? Have I seen all I think I have? I wander away in my confusion. I return, but it is still dark. I cannot find Him. Panic sets in! I cannot find Him. The fear becomes deeper. “Papa! Where are You?” I cry out, feeling more lost and alone than I expected.
My heart leaps as I hear His voice from afar off. I cannot understand His words but I know the sound of His voice. Where has He gone?
No, I realize He has not gone. It is me. In my distracted confusion, I left His side. It has become a wedge, a wall between us. Horrified and fearful, I cannot bear the thought of such separation from Him. “Papa, don’t leave me – don’t leave me! Where are You?” His voice is still far off. I fear it will take a long time to find His side again.
Trying to figure out what it going on, I realize this distraction is not the product of sin. That I would have recognized much sooner. No, this has come from something that is permitted me. But even still, it has created distance between us. The distance used to be tolerable, acceptable to me, but now it is intolerable! My heart aches with the emptiness of this distance from Him.
“Papa, don’t leave me! Don’t go! Please, correct my heart. I do not want to be separated from you!” I do not know where I am at the moment, but I do finally know where to go, where I will find Him. I must go back to the garden, to the tree. I know I will find Him there. I begin to run, my heart knows the way.
Finally. I see it. The moonlight gently bathes the familiar place in a cool serene glow, calming my anxious heart. I know this place and that comforts me. I stop at the tree, clinging, breathless, to the familiar branch. “Papa,” I cry, desperate to hear his voice again. “Papa! Don’t leave me! Don’t go! Please meet me here! Correct, perfect my heart! I want to be with you!” I hear something in the shadows. It is Him, my heart knows! “ Please. Papa, set my heart right!”
“Are you sure you want this?” He asks from the shadows. I still cannot see Him, but His voice is clear. “Are you sure you want this?” He asks again. Puzzled at His question, I nod as He continues. “ That was not sin. It was within what you are permitted.”
“I know, but it has separated us! I do not want to be apart from You!” Desperate fear rises as I consider the possibility that the distance might not be crossed. “Please please Papa I don’t want to be apart from you. I don’t want this distance, even if it is permissible.” He does not respond immediately. “ Please – “my voice’s very small now, afraid He will turn away.
He steps forward into the moonlight so I can see Him again. I sigh with deep relief, some of my fear departs as my eyes fill with Him. “All right, little one.” He softly replies.
I cannot tell if He is pleased or not. But He steps toward me, until He is standing beside me, His hand resting lightly on the branch. “I will show you what you ask.” He begins.
I can see how, although not sin, my distraction took my eyes off Him. With my eyes off Him, I got lost, I wandered away. Distance formed between us and my heart pined in the isolation. It used to acceptable, this distance, but now it leaves my heart aching, my mind sick. Dull terror tears at my heart. “Forgive me! I am sorry! I am sorry for becoming distracted, for wandering away! Please, help me, I don’t want to wander away again. Please help me! Change me so that I don’t do this again!” I cry, clinging to the branch for the strength to stay. “I want my heart changed!”
So He continues. The pain of the distance and separation grows deeper, threatening to overwhelm me. I see what it will become if allowed to remain. The gulf grows and grows until I can barely see Him in the distance. Sickness rises in my throat as I hear myself scream, “No! No! I don’t want this, I don’t want this! I want to be with You! I want You! Papa!”
He is finished, but I am not sure I realize that for a long time as I lay crying on the branch. He stands beside me, His hand softly upon my shoulder. For a long time He just lets me cry. Finally though, He says, “Come.” He helps me rise and walks me to the waterfall. “Go wash now.”
Walking into the waterfall, I turn my face up, letting the water pour upon it. I feel the stain of my tears falling from me as a peace finally descends on me. I stand there for a very long time, allowing the pure water to refresh the depths of my heart.
When next I realize it, the dawn has broken. He is still standing on the bank waiting patiently for me. I wade back to the bank to meet Him. He says nothing, but takes my face in His hands, brushing the water from my face and hair. He holds my cheeks and kisses my forehead. His strong arms wrap around me in a powerful embrace. I can feel His smile now.
“I told you in the beginning that this time would come. I told you that instead of fighting against my correction, you would come to relish it, that you would come here to meet with me and ask for me to change your heart.” There is joy in His voice like I have never heard before. It fills me at a place I did not even know was empty before.
A peculiar joy dawns as I realize that He did tell me those things and that is exactly what has happened. I did not understand then what He meant, I could not picture how such a thing would be, but it is perfectly clear now. I also now see how the change in my heart was necessary for this change. I understand now how my confused perception of correction and pain would never have allowed me to seek this from Him.
“Thank you, Papa!” I have no other words to speak. My heart is full, relieved to be with Him again.
“Let’s go back to the study now.” He tenderly suggests, taking my arm. He is silent as we walk back, but I am certain he is pleased.