Monday, March 20, 2006

Chapter 16: The master suite, pt 3

When finally I stop, He presses the now open box into my hands. I reached in to withdraw the dark gold lame’ bag. With trembling hands, I open the drawstring and shake the content into my hands.

For a moment I cannot breath! A pair of earrings, matching the necklace that He had given me, fall into my palm. A series a white gold drops surround central heart-shaped diamond, chiming softly as the earrings are lifted into the firelight. The central stones are each engraved with the words “My grace”.

Lovingly, He fastens them on my ears. I hear the whisper of the chimes, “My grace, My grace,” they sing. I am overcome.

“Oh, Papa!, Thank you!” I bury my face in his chest.

“Now that the abyss is silenced, you can hear these. I want you to hear my song of grace constantly in your ears. “

And I do, over and over again. “Thank you Papa!, “I whisper, my heart threatening to burst with joy in His embrace. He kisses the top of my head. And simply holds me for a long time.

“Come sit with Me.” He finally says and leads me to the balcony. Together, we sit on a glider bench, His arm around me.

It is such a pleasant place, the shade of the magnolia tree lightly covers the balcony. The gentle sound the waterfall below and a soft breeze complete the outdoor d├ęcor. If I open my eyes I could look out over the garden, but prefer to close them, for now savoring his presence. A part of me though fights to be up and running, seeks to be doing something. I go to silence it, not wanting to miss a moment of this precious time with Him.

He nods at me. “Do not give up these times of rest. You’ve been busy for too long. In order to do what you’ve been called to do for Me, you must take time with Me. I will provide you with the meat you will serve, but you must meet with Me, rest with Me to receive it. Do not be afraid of rest anymore. There’s no more danger to you in rest.”

I see I have been afraid of rest for so very long, it is always meant vulnerability, danger that I have no defense against. But to rest with Him is safe. Nothing can harm me in His presence.

“Papa, please forgive me for the fear that I’ve been holding onto all this time, the fear of rest, of stillness, quietness. I repent for holding on to what is counter to Your word. Please forgive me and show me how to do this differently!” Even as I whisper these words, I notice something different this time. Though saddened by seeing this fear in myself, I am no longer so afraid of being wrong. I am confident in His forgiveness and of His guidance and instruction for change.

He hugs me briefly, “You are forgiven child. You all are already on the path to change, but I will bring light to the old path and show you a new way “

“Thank you, Papa. “I can scarcely believe how different things have become.

“Let Me show you something.” He begins to rise. Together we walked toward the rail of the balcony. Immediately I can see how different the garden has become, not nearly the place it once was. He points to an eagle soaring overhead. “Soon you’ll be able to soar like that.”

Those times I had ever dared picture myself able to fly, it was as a little canary, ever as an eagle! Suddenly I see this is what will come out of the rest with Him!

“ Yes.” He smiles.” Give me your hands.” As I do, He takes them into his own. As before, they are still calloused and ragged from the busyness that I have made for myself. “Let Me treat them.” He instructs. I can only nod as He brings out His jar of ointment. Slowly, and with great, tender care, He covers my hands in the fragrant balm, rubbing it deeply, firmly into every wounded and rugged place.

I never realized how much my hands ached, how very tired they were, until that moment. It is such a relief, released to have my hands empty, still for even a few moments.

“This will enable you to let go of what I have not given you, to be still when it is time. And it will also give you the strength to hold on and to do as I call you to in that season.” He holds my hands in His for a long time.

Tears in my eyes I can only whisper, “Thank you, Papa.”

He takes both my hands in His left and with His right tenderly He rings the chimes on my ears . They sing out, “My grace, My grace.” Over and over and over. My tears, flowing freely now, I pressed my head to his chest crying “I love you papa, I love you.” I never before have been able to receive, to feel His love in such a real and tangible way. Dressed in His garments, standing in His chambers I feel more safe and more accepted and more loved than I ever have before.

Chapter 17-->

Chapter 16: The master suite, pt 2

“No.” He says slowly. “I do not want you there. I want you much closer to me.”

I am slow to understand and just stand there looking at Him dumbly. He beckons me to the doorway beside His chambers and opens the door saying, “Here’s where you should be.”

We enter into a smaller suite, laid out in mirror image to His. The sitting room, smaller, but simple and elegant, focuses on a fireplace already crackling warmly with fire. I realize the two chambers share the fireplace, making them almost the same room. A gentle welcoming warmth fills the room, inviting me in.

I feel His hand lay gently upon my shoulder as He explains. “I want to close to me, child. I want you to know that I am here, that if you call out to Me in the night I will hear you and be here with you.” I am so relieved that He should want me to so close to Him.

I do not want to question His instructions, so I carefully walk into the room. Setting my boxes down on the table in the middle of the sitting room, I look around the rooms for a moment trying to grasp all that has taken place in just a short time. Then I realize that I do not see Him.

“Child,” I hear his voice a small distance away. “Come to my chamber.” I did not realize He had left! Hastily I obey.

“Yes, Papa.” I call out rushing through His door, a little breathless from my dash to get to His rooms. Immediately I notice a beautifully wrapped box sitting on a table in the sitting room.

“It is for you.” He explains, nodding toward the gift.

“Why?” I find myself asking before it can stop myself. An anxiety I do not understand tinges my voice.

“Just because I want to bless you.” He replies, smiling gently at me. He ushers me in and I sit down in the chair beside the table. I cannot bring myself to reach toward the box, much less open it. I simply cannot receive it.

“It is yours whether you choose to open it or not” He kindly assures me, encouraging but not pushing me.

Still, I am paralyzed, afraid to even touch it. “Why could I received the oil from You, but not this?” I ask aloud, frustrated and bewildered in myself.

“What do you expect?” He asks.

The word ‘expect’ floods me with realization. Gifts have long been a difficult thing for me. It is a language of love I understand and I love to give gifts. But it is so hard for me to receive. I avoid opening gifts, especially publicly and dread the disappointment that comes.

“What disappointment?” He gently probes as if wanting me to see something more.

“The disappointment of knowing I’m not known, of knowing that no one is listening or pay attention to me, the disappointment of not feeling loved.” I reply, shocked in my own honesty. I see myself caught in a catch twenty-two. Gifts speak to my heart, but I cannot receive them with joy, or even at all because of the expectation of pain.

I see myself as a girl, around the age where the abyss began to call to me. During the Christmastime when my parents and bought me a very nice doll but I hated it. I was bitterly disappointed, not because there was something else I wanted, but because I felt so I ignored. No one knew me well enough to know that I truly would not have wanted that. I cried then, but claimed it was with happiness because I could not disappoint them with the truth.

Other memories of gifts given in ways to emphasize convenience and obligation flood in. I cannot hold back the tears no longer, as I bury my face and my hands and sob.
Tenderly he puts His hand on my shoulder, waiting patiently until the sobs have subsided. “You can take it with you, you do not have to open it now.”

“No,” I cry again. I am sure He knew I would say that. “It is time for change, I want to be able to receive.” I try to pick up the box, but still cannot. “What do I need to do to be able to change this?”

“Give me your expectations.” He explains.

Suddenly, in my hands I see a black rose, dried and crushed from being carried. I give it to Him. He hands me the box.

Carefully, I unwrap it and open the lid, but I cannot see inside. My bewilderment shows clearly on my face as I look up at Him.

“Throw this into the fire.” He hands me the rose. Tears spring to my eyes as I set down the box and walk the few steps toward the fireplace. Repenting of my expectations, I throw the rose into the fire. The flames flare up, reminding me of the cloak that He burned earlier. I sob into my hands again, feeling overwhelmed by the sense that I no longer know who I am. I feel like so much of what I have always known, of who I have always been is changing so quickly and I do not know how to keep up. He is there right beside me, now, His arm around my shoulders as I cry.

Part 3-->

Chapter 16: The master suite, pt 1

I feel a deep reluctance not knowing what is there—still surprised by what I have already found in this place. And I am so tired of stairs at the moment!

“These are not difficult to climb, “He tells me, smiling. I sense He knows that it is not disobedience in my heart and thoughts, only tiredness and a little anxiety.

“As You say, Papa.” I take hold of the banister and carefully begin to climb. He is right, these are not like the basement steps. They arc gracefully up to a landing midway up the stairs, then separate into two flights, going to the right and left. I pause here to see which way He goes. He goes to the right, I follow.

At the top of the stairs we pause, taking in the view. It is lovely. We can see into the foyer and into the dining room wing from here. The landing is sprinkled with chairs as though it is used as a quiet retreat from the noise of a gathering below.

“Come sit with Me.” He sits in a large wing chair, close to the railing, and beckons me beside Him. Although there are chairs, I prefer to sit at His feet.

“Please tell me, where are we now, Papa?”

“The upstairs is a place for family and intimates, a place where those are welcomed in to stay.” He explains.

“Do you have a room here?” I ask with some trepidation.

“Yes, I will show you if you like.”

“Please, I want to see.” I reply, although I am a bit concerned at what I may learn. He rises fro the chair and take my arm in His. We walk together down a corridor, carpeted and not quite so dusty as downstairs, perhaps because it is used more. We stop at one of the first rooms on the right, He opens the door and I peer inside. Cheerful sunlight fills the small room before me gracefully accenting the simple, plain furnishings within. . Clearly, it is a room for a child, not for a guest and especially not for Him! The room does not even have a fireplace!

I am appalled and embarrassed. “No, Papa! This is not right. Please, let me find you another, more fitting room! You have the keys now, You cannot stay here!” I feel frenzied and anxious, almost panicked. I rush down the hall, scarcely realizing that I really do not know where I am going. I see two rooms at the end of the hall and sigh with relief, sensing this is the place I am looking for. I open the left hand door, the more decorated of the two, my hands trembling with anxiety, As the door swings open, I can see clearly this is the Master Suite.

Peering in, I can see a sitting room, large and comfortably furnished with an elegant fireplace on the right hand side wall. Beyond, on the spacious balcony, another sitting area invites us. The bedchamber is through a door to the left. I recognize these neat but lived in rooms, I suddenly realize, these are my chambers.

“Please Papa, please, stay here, take these rooms-this is where you should be!” I plead, frenzied as I search for boxes to move my things out. Tears fill my eyes blinding me. In my agitation, I run into Him.

“Papa I am sorry!” I cry out, sobbing heavily now. “I’m so sorry!”

He catches me, but does not let go. “Why are you a troubled?” He asks, clearly expecting an answer.

I hate to respond, I am deeply embarrassed. “I’m ashamed Papa, ashamed that I’ve given you such rooms! I thought that I had given You more, that I’d done better. I have failed you again.” The words rush out of me in a flood.

“And…” Only He would realize that I have not told Him everything yet.

“And I’m afraid you’ll be angry.” With great heaving sobs, I begin to cry into His shoulder. For a while I am aware of nothing but the pounding of my heart and the rush of blood in my own ears. He holds me tightly until finally I calm.

“Child I have been in this guest room for a very long time. Why would have become angry now?” He voice is gentle as he draws me out of myself with His question.

I have no answer.

“ Child, you’re embarrassed now, but that was the best you could give to Me in that season. You have not displeased me. The season has changed now, though; now is the time for change. I will accept your invitation and stay in these chambers.” His strong arms around me comfort and reassure me that He means what He says.

“ Thank you Papa.” I whisper, still in his embrace. Once I settle myself a little more, He helps me box up the last few things I need to move out. Boxes in hand, I head down the corridor, for the small room where we began.

“Where you going?” He asks, stopping me mid-stride.

“To the other room,” I reply, turning toward Him, much surprised by the question. Where else is there for me to go?

Part 2-->

Chapter 15: The abyss, pt 3

We rest a moment as He lets me regain some strength before turning back to the pit. We stand facing it, staring at it. “This place no longer has the power to hold you. You never have to return here again, never have to listen to those voices again.”

“Can we leave now?” I ask, exhaustion tingeing my voice.

“In a moment.” He opens the lantern and removes a single coal from within. Taking a step toward the pit, He drops the coal into the darkness. I watch it glow as it falls. It seems to fall a very long time, but that is not unexpected. I have been in that pit too many times; I remember too well its depth and the difficult climb out of that place. Finally it hits bottom. I am surprised to see it continuing to glow even at the bottom.

“In time the coal will light this whole place. But for now, it is right to seal the door and keep this place empty.” He explains.

I try to think of what He has said as He guides me back to the stairs. The air is so heavy and foul that I am barely able to breath. I dread this climb. I have climbed this stair too many ties and I know it will be difficult. In the past it has even taken multiple attempts, getting part of the way back up and falling back down, only to have to try again to get out.

“I am here,” He reminds me, pressing me once again between the wall and His strong shoulder, making sure that I will not fall. There is no railing to these stairs, if He is not there beside me, there is nothing to keep me from falling back into the depths of the darkness.

We begin to climb the stairs. Step by step by step we ascend, but it seems there is no progress. My thighs burn, my knees scream in pain. I cannot get enough breath. I do not know if I can make it further.

“Use your sword to support you.” He instructs.

I would have never considered using such a weapon as a mere walking stick. It seems absurd. I am uncertain, but not willing to disobey His instruction. Unsheathing the saber, I plant its tip in the step above me. The blade cuts deeply into the warped wood of the tread.

“I can do all things with You!” I whisper, pulling myself up one more stair, bracing against the strength of the sword ahead of me and His presence beside me. Over and over again I repeat the effortful process until finally we reach the top step.

I half fall through the door way back into the hall, hungrily gulping in the cool fresh air of the mail floor. The last of the muck from the abyss drips from my robe onto the floor, leaving no stain on me. I feel relief hearing Him shut the door behind us.

“Papa, please, may I rest now!” I cry out, surprised again by my boldness with Him.

“Yes.” He guides me the short distance to the private dining room and helps me sit down. Graciously, He hands me a large glass of cold, sweet water. I gulp at it desperately at first, then slow a bit to savor its fresh sweetness. As I catch my breath I become aware of a terrible sense of uncleanness covering me.

Before I can ask, He responds. “That comes from breathing the air of that place. Rest a while, it will pass.”

I am so weary I have no difficulty in obeying this instruction.

Finally, though I must ask, “Papa, I have heard that call before and could not resist it. How is it I did not lose grip on You this time?

“It was the oil, the second anointing of it, that allowed you to withstand that place, to be able to breathe that foul air and still cling to Me.”

That is why He anointed the tip of my nose! I suddenly understand now and am unable to suppress my laughter. He smiles warmly at my amusement.

“What now, Papa?” I ask a little while later.

“It would be good to seal and block the door so that in a moment of weakness it will not be easy for you to go there again.”

He is right of course, I know the temptation, the solace found in the known and familiar even when it is hurtful and damaging. “What is the best way?”

“Nail the door shut and then block it with heavy furniture.”

“All right, Papa. Will You help me?” He nods as He helps me rise from the table.

Silently, we walk to the door. He hands me a hammer and long, heavy nails. The process of nailing the door shut is a slow one. The wood of the door and frame, though plain, is very hard and the nails large. My shoulder and arms already ache from pulling myself upstairs. The hammer’s blows seem to ring off the nails, barely moving them into the wood they seek to penetrate. I have to rest numerous times before I am finished.

When finally I turn, finished with my task, I see Him as a short distance down the hall, bringing a large bookcase this way. The bookcase is a deep mahogany matching the paneling in the dining room in style and color. With authority, He places it firmly in front of the door I have just pinned shut. The shelves are large enough to completely conceal the doorway behind them. I am relieved that I can no longer see it, no longer to have a constant reminder of what is there. The bookcase, for now is empty, but it is a sign of what will be.

“You will fill this—won’t you, Papa?” I ask shyly, but with hope.

“Of course, child, if that is what you desire.”

I catch His hand and press it to my cheek, unable to give voice to the thanks that overflow my heart. He says nothing, but smiles warmly at me and carefully takes my arm again. We head back down the dusty corridor. I notice the hood I now wear is made of the finest, lightest silk I have ever known. White, like the robe, it is almost weightless, yet I do not doubt its capacity to protect me.

Soon we are in the foyer. Instead of going down the opposite corridor to the study, He stops at the long formal stair case arcing gracefully to the upstairs rooms.

“It is time to go upstairs,” He announces.

Chapter 16-->

Chapter 15: The abyss, pt 2

The staircase, just inside the doorway, descends steeply. I feel a rough wall on my right side, my shoulder braced and rubbing against it. He presses against my left side so I cannot tell what is there, perhaps just emptiness. I am glad for His presence beside me as the darkness disorients me. Slowly my eyes begin to adjust to the darkness. I can see only a faint glimmer of light and that is coming from something He carries, a lantern perhaps, in His left hand.

The staircase is long, we seem to descend for a very long time. The air becomes oppressive, stagnant, heavy and hard to breath. Briefly I wish I had brought the oil He just gave me.

“Do not fear, you have everything you need with you.” He replies to my thoughts as we continue to climb down.

My feet become heavier and heavier, my legs burning with the effort of the climb. I want so desperately to rest, to sit for a moment.

“No,” He warns me, “do not rest in this place, if you become restful here, you will be drawn into the abyss.”

I need no further encouragement to continue. Finally we reach the end of the staircase, the last step ending in sharp jolt. The air is even more oppressive here than it was on the stairs: hot, sticky, stale and musty. It feels like the air itself is sticking to me.

In the quietness of the moment, I hear a curious dripping sound nearby. The light of the lanterns allows me to just make out a sticky, murky fluid dripping from my robe. The air, or whatever is in it cannot stick to His garments! This place cannot hold on to me any longer! The revelations floods in like fresh air.

I try to focus in on this freshness, but something distracts me. I hear a faint sound, like that of someone moaning in pain.

“What is that Papa?” It is familiar, but I cannot quite place why.

“It is the sound of this place, the cry of pain that draws you here. It is the legacy of your past generations. I will show you.” We begin to walk slowly toward the sound, His arm still entwined with mine. The light of His lantern is absorbed in this darkness. I can see only a few steps beyond us. As we walk, the sounds, cries becoming screams now become louder. I feel a pull to join them, to become enmeshed in my own pain—this is the pull of the abyss.

We continue our approach. I hold tighter, with both hands now, to His arm so as not to become separated from Him. It is the only way I can see not to answer the powerful call of this place. The sounds, the call keeps getting louder though.

Finally we are at the edge of a horrible pit; the cries now so loud I cannot hear myself think. I fight the urge to surrender to it, to throw myself into the abyss. “Papa!” I scream, not hearing my own voice in the cacophony of the calls. “Make it stop! Make it stop! I can’t hear You anymore! Make it stop!” Tears flow freely down my cheeks as I plead to Him.

My hands still clutch His right arm. With His left, still holding the lantern, He reaches around me and pulls a hood over my head, covering my ears. I had never noticed a hood on the robe before. The moment I am covered by this hood, the sounds stop, they are gone! I sag against Him in physical relief from the assault.

“Papa!” I am surprised to be able to hear my own voice now.

“You are safe.” He assures me.

“Are the voices gone?” I am confused.

“No,” He gently pulls back the hood along one side of my face, exposing my left ear slightly. I hear the sounds muffled in the folds of the hood; they disappear as He lets the hood fall back into place. “This will protect you from those calls.”

Part 3-->

Chapter 15: The abyss, pt 1

For years I have felt that I have been fighting the pull of a great dark abyss. Each time I seem to get away from it I have been drawn back, caught by the cloak I have worn. But the cloak is gone now. Can this really mean I do not have to go back?

I rush back to His side, the question forming on my lips. He answers me before I can ask. “Yes, you are free from that place now. You have dwelt there and fought your away from it for far too long. It has been handed down as a family legacy, like the cloak, but without the cloak, it no longer has a hold on you. You are free from that abyss.”

My mind whirls at the thought. I had never though about this, not considered it possibility.

“Come, let Me show you that place in the light now. You will no longer need to fear it.” He rises and takes my arm.

“Where are we going?” I ask with trepidation.

“To the basement.”

What basement? I did not know there was one!

He leads me back to the foyer and down the hall with the dining room and kitchen. He approaches one of the closed doors opposite the great room, near the smaller dining room.

Now I understand! The two places are so close. Perhaps that is why I have often felt myself drawn there, to the abyss after preparing and serving a large meal. Quietly, He nods at me and pats my hand with tenderness. We stop at a very plain door, easily overlooked in the lovely woodwork that surrounds.

“Open it.” He firmly directs; it is a command, not a suggestion. With warmth, He adds, “I will be here with you.”

Cautiously, I push the door open. There is no light within the doorway; it is completely and totally dark with an encompassing darkness that goes beyond the absence of light. It seems to suck in the light, draw it in and consume it within. I can just make out the first step inside, nothing more.

Firmly He entwines my left arm in His. “Stay close lest you get lost.”

I clutch at His wrist, the power of His warning not lost on me. I have no desire to go here, much less become lost within. Too many times I have been here and lost my way in the depths of that darkness. Too many times I have had to claw my way back into the light. No, I do not want to be here, even with Him beside me. But, I will obey.

Part 2-->

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Chapter 14: The kitchen and dining room, pt 4

I let His words rest upon me. I do not fight them off this time. I have pleased Him. How I have longed to hear those words! And now that I have heard them, I cannot receive them! “Oh, Papa!” I cry, I find myself looking longingly at Him, still trying to absorb His words deep within me.

I think He sees me struggling to obey. Gently, He releases my face. “Child, let Me anoint your wounds, it will help.” In His hand I see a small faceted bottle contain an orange-gold liquid.

“Yes, Papa,” I reply knowing I must expose myself to His scrutiny. Quickly I unlace the vest, carefully removing it and the rest of the garments He has given me.

Standing naked before Him, the fire is hot upon my back. He beckons me nearer. As I obey, He says, “This is the oil of joy. Let it penetrate your wounds to the deepest places within you.” Tenderly He anoints the still deep wounds across my belly. I feel it penetrating the depths of those wounds with a peculiar warmth that begins to spread within me. Oddly I feel a weight on my shoulders and just as suddenly it slips off. I hear it softly fall on the ground. I know what it is, I do not have to look; it is a cloak of mourning. I realize I have been wearing it for years.

“Yes,” He agrees, “You have worn it many years, even since you were ten years old. It has been in your family at least three generations, a family heirloom.”

I know He is right, but I do not want such an heirloom any longer.

“I want to give you this.” He continues, holding out the beautiful flask of oil to me.

“Oh, Papa!” But I have nothing to give You!” I am not even sure why I have said that.

“Give Me the cloak.” He instructs.

Immediately I move to obey, holding the foul garment gingerly. I do not want to touch it more than necessary, do not want to allow it to get a grip on me again. Quickly I hand it to Him.

Without hesitation, He takes it and flings it into the fire place. The flames consume it hurriedly and brightly. In a moment it is gone. I stand dumbly for a moment, realizing that constant companion the heaviness is finally gone. The reality of the change seems to elude me. I look at the beautiful bottle in my hands. I feel as though I should give it back to Him. I find it difficult to believe that He will not require it back. Receiving gifts has always been difficult because of this fear that some how they are not really mine.

“My gifts are not something that I ever demand back.” He says without condemnation.

The truth of His words reverberates through my deepest places. What He has given me is truly mine to keep! “What shall I do with this Papa?”

“You may keep it into the cabinet by the windows.”

As I carry it to the cabinet I have a sudden new understanding. I had always wondered about the gifts displayed in one whose ways were difficult for me. Now I see, he gave his widow’s mite, all he had, with an honest heart. And He was pleased and He blessed that one.

Then I see it! He is pleased with me! I have truly pleased Him! My heart leaps as I finally understand! I rush back to His side, the oil still in my hand. “Oh, Papa—Your grace to me! Your grace!” I press my face into His hand, tears of joy streaming down my face. “Papa, your grace, your grace, your grace!” I have no other words to speak.

Tenderly He lifts my face and kisses my forehead. I think He is smiling. “Here, come, let me dress you.” He covers me again in His garments. I feel so secure in His garments.

“Please, Papa, anoint me again.” I am not sure why I ask this, but my heart longs for it.

Taking the bottle from my hand, He begins, touching the top of my head, the tip of my nose, my ears, the base of my throat, my hands and feet. “Take this freely, it contains enough for a lifetime.” He hands the bottle back to me.

As I go to put it in the cabinet once again, I am struck by another realization. I am free—I never have to return to the abyss again.

Chapter 15-->

Chapter 14: The kitchen and dining room, pt 3

“I will believe You, Papa, I will trust You.” I rise to get the keys. The drawer is sticky, but it opens. Inside, there is a key ring with one large, gold key and many smaller once. The firelight reflects dully from the keys. Somehow I know if I take hold of them, I will not want to let them go.

With just one finger, I scoop them up, hooking my finger gingerly in the ring, not allowing them to fall into my palm. I rush to His side, almost throwing the keys at Him in my haste not to become too attached to them.

He takes them carefully, as though handling a treasure. I am stunned by the concern he demonstrates in handling them. Wordlessly, He polishes away the tarnish until they gleam. He removes a length of shimmering white velvet from within His robe and carefully wraps the keys it in. With equal care, He takes the wrapped keys and places them in His robe, close to His heart, then turns toward me.

I am startled and shocked by my own reactions. I flinch and barely resist the urge to cover my face with my hands. “Don’t hurt me Papa!” I cry out before I can silence the words. I thought I was at a place of trust, I truly believed that I did trust, but my own words betray me. I expect Him to be angry, but He is not.

“Have I ever?” He asks calmly and without reproach.

My flesh tries to answer yes, but I cannot find any place where that is truly the case. He has said ‘no’ to me at times, but that is not the same.

“No, you have not.” I whisper afraid of taxing His patience.

“Have I ever given you reason to doubt Me?”

I look back. It seems hard to find places of trust because so many of my own works seem mixed in. I keep looking and cannot find any place He has given me cause not to trust when I have been unable to do something on my own.

“No you have not. But I do see how many times I have taken matters into my own hands, even when You have been there and how I have usually complicated matters or made a mess out of them.” I hang my head in frustration.

He beckons me to His side again. I sit beside Him once more, resting my head in His lap now.

“You have been faithful, daughter, hung in and endured what few have been willing to. You have been faithful to a fault.” His words sting now as I see so much of what I thought to be faithfulness has been my own flesh working out of fear of rejection and self protection. I am devastated and feel condemnation welling up within.

“I have seen the faithfulness of the past and blessed it. It was an act of obedience and it was the best you had to offer me. You gave it willingly. It was a sweetly fragranced offering to Me.” There is a note of sternness in His voice that cuts through my sense of condemnation. Gently he lays His hand on my head. “It is time to grow up now, though. Time for you to stop being faithful to what I have not called you to. Time to stop working pointlessly and to focus on what I have called you to.”

I feel the tears trickle silently down my cheeks. I cannot stop them, much as I would like to. I say nothing, not wanting Him to see me right now.

“You have not listened to me, child.” He says firmly, even as I hide my face from Him.

Placing His hand under my arm, He bids me stand and face Him. I cannot lift my face to Him though. I feel the fire, hot on my back and my grief burning within me. All I can focus on is that I have failed yet again. At some level I know He has said more than that, but still failure is all I can hear. With a firm but kind touch, He lifts my chin so I must face Him. The tears burn my face now, but there are no words to speak.

“You have not listened to me.” He repeats Himself, His words edged with rebuke, but somehow, in this moment I do not care. “All you have heard is that it is time for change, you did not listen when I told you that what you offered to Me then was pleasing to Me. You gave to me the best you had and gave it out of an obedient heart. A widow’s mite, a pleasing fragrance. You must hear this.” He hold my face in both His hands now. “You have pleased Me.”

Without intending to, I start to pull away.

“No.” His voice freezes me. “You will stay until you hear this. Condemnation is threatening to overtake you and if it gains a foothold your wounds will not heal and you will lose the ground you have gained thus far. If you want to keep this ground you must make a choice to truly hear Me now.”

His words are heavy and I cannot ignore them. I must obey. “Yes, Papa, I will.” I whisper, reluctantly, not understanding why this is so difficult for me.

Still holding my face in His hands He begins again. “Offerings made from a genuine, loving and obedient heart are always pleasing to Me. You have pleased Me, child. I am pleased with you.”

part 4-->

Chapter 14: The kitchen and dining room, pt 2

He leads me back through the dusty halls down to the study. By the time we arrive I am exhausted again. As He sits in His chair by the fire, I drop to the floor on the soft sheep skin and lean my head on His knee. “I am so exhausted Papa! I do knot know how I can do this? How can I do more?” I want to cry, but cannot find the tears. The task He has placed before me seems more than I can possibly even consider.

He strokes my hair gently. “You work too hard and need to rest.”

Quietly and kindly He shows me how I have used busyness to protect me. As a youth I used it to protect me from things at home, either keeping me away from there or at least keeping me from the path of the storm. So I retreat to the busyness in defense and cannot allow myself to rest even when there is nothing to defend against.

“What must I do about this?” I whisper, stung by the truth of what He has shown to me.

“Your heart needs to be healed. I want to be free from this.” He whispers to me.
“What must I do?” I am at a loss to see His path.

“Give Me the keys to your heart.”

His words strike me hard. I though I had done that. Keys mean ownership—does He not have that over me?

“No” He replies to my thought. “You allowed me a lease, a long one, but not ownership.”

I am taken back to see that He is right. I have not actually trusted Him with true, full ownership. I have not allowed Him full control—residence yes, but little more. The reality hits me heavily, weighing deeply upon my heart. What would ownership, what would Him having the keys look like? My first glance at such a thought is fearful, full of hurt. Instinctively, I fear that He will use His ownership to hurt me.

I tentatively glance up at Him and can see clearly that He knows what I am thinking. He says nothing though, but again strokes my hair tenderly and rests His hand on my shoulder. Clearly, He is not angry with me, though I do not understand why.

“Where are the keys?” I finally ask, realizing that even if I wanted to give Him the keys, I could not.

“In the drawer of the bookstand.” He glances toward it briefly as if trying not to push me into action.

I rise slowly from the soft sheepskin rug, my mind in turmoil. Somehow I am not surprised to find that the drawer is stuck when I try to open it. I work at it earnestly for a while, but finally return to His side.

“How do I open the drawer?” I feel stupid asking, but I do not know.

“Make a choice to trust Me again.” He reminds me of when we walked through this trust issue in another light.

As I sit down beside Him again, I find I have my head down, resting on my own knees y mind and heart reeling with what he is asking of me. Somewhere along the line I have learned that He really does not care about me, that He does not care about my needs, or was that my comfort? I am not sure I remember clearly in this moment. Some part of me knows that giving Him ownership requires level of privation and sacrifice that I have heard about in the awful ‘stories of old’ about what was gone without and how holy ‘they’ were to do it. It sounds so much like He wants to deprive me of all comfort or relief I might find. It seems like things are hard enough now, why should I invite them to become harder still? How can I trust that He will not tear down this place once He owns it?

Somehow, I have already forgotten what He said in the dining room. I want to obey, but feel so conflicted. I wish I could cry, but cannot find the tears. I feel ill, I do not know how to do what He has asked of me.

“Papa, I want to obey, I just do not know how to open the drawer. How do I trust you in spite of all I have been taught?” The words tumble out of me in a rush. “I want to do this!” I raise my head to look into the fire—I cannot look at Him right now. “If it would help….please, take me from this place…rebuke me if that will help me do this!” I hang my head once again in despair, still unable to find the tears to release my turmoil.

He is quiet for a long, long time. Somehow it is fitting, the silence helps me to calm myself just a bit. Finally, He reaches forward, laying a hand on my shoulder. “A willing heart does not need rebuke.” He says firmly.

I do not know what to say, feeling as though I have no hope now.

“Come closer to me, here by my side.” He directs. Not lifting my head, I obey, leaning against His leg, His hand still on my shoulder.

Quietly, He begins to share with me about the Good Father and the Good Shepherd. He reminds me of His names that I have studied and that none of them are names of fear and hurt, but healer, provider, shepherd, refuge, strong tower, deliverer, redeemer. There is no name for Him that means destroyer, wounder of His children. That is simply not who He is, it is not in His character. What I have learned is a false representation of my Papa God. He works all things to good for His children. He gives good gifts to His children, we are the sheep of His pasture, His wealth and His treasure. He tends and preserves us for Himself. Those things I fear, He simply will not do, they are not in Him.

He lets me think on these things for a long time, but it is clear that I must make a choice. He will not force me, but I must do something with what He has shown me. My anxiety has not lessened, but I have chosen.

Part 3-->

Chapter 14: The kitchen and dining room, pt 1

He takes my arm once again and leads me back over the bridge through the court yard and into the castle. I am grateful for His lead as I find that I do not know my way around. It is strange to me that this castle, my heart, is so unknown to me.

Once in the foyer, we head to a corridor to the left. The corridor to the study, on the right, is the only corridor that I have really seen so far. The long left hand passageway is lined with closed doors on the right-hand wall. On the left is an enormous dining room. Finally at the end of the hall is the kitchen.

He opens the swinging doors to let us in. I am awestruck by the size of the room. It is huge! The walls are faced in warm river stones, the fixtures lines with red brick. The effect is warm and comforting, so familiar and inviting. This is a comfortable place for me, I feel safe, hidden from the crowds, in the kitchen. I like to be enmeshed in the preparation, protected from exposure outside in the dining room.

In anticipation, I survey the rest of the room. A double sided steel table runs down the center of the room. The right side wall is also lined with steel preparation tables. Clearly plating and presentation are to be done there. The left wall is lined first with stoves and ovens, then with a walk-in freezer and refrigerator. The left side of the center table is stocked for preparation with tools and bins of chopped vegetables and seasonings. The smell is wonderful and homey here, comforting, making me feel strangely at home.

After the size, the thing that strikes me is that it is already fairly clean, not like the study which required some effort to make livable. The dishes are clean, the front wall set for dishwashing. I find there are a few moldy fruits in the refrigerator, but little else seems to need cleaning.

“I don’t understand, Papa, I though you said we needed to clean this place.” I ask, confused.

He nods and takes my arm. “You know you are called to serve meat from here to my people. You have spent many hours here already. This place has seen much use over the last two years. It is ready for use, but you needed to see this for yourself.”

I am still confused as He leads me into the dining room. I see it is really two rooms, though. The first is a smaller, intimate room, seating only a few, closed off from the man room by a pair of pocket doors. The walls of both are burgundy and the carpeting a deep blue-green. The wainscoting is finely grained cherry or mahogany as are the simple, elegant table and buffet. The iron chandelier ringed by eight ivory candles also displays the same regal simplicity. Clearly the focus is the meal and not the room.

He bids me sit and serves me again. As I eat, I see there is nothing I can do to be unchosen. By His choice, He acted to accept and love me, and that choice is about Him, not me. With this, I can feel the wounds heal a little more.

After I finish, we leave the small table and He takes me into the main dining room. I cannot even count how many can be served at the immensely long table running down the center of the room. Each place is set with linen, but no china. Clearly the room is being readied for use, but use is not quite imminent.

“More will come here to be fed.” He tells me. “Not all will like what you serve. Some will come and choose not to eat, but those that eat of the meat you serve will be changed and grow.”

I feel overwhelmed and a little panicky at the thought. How can I possibly feed that large a group the kind of meal this room would anticipate?

I try to stammer out a question, but He tells me, “Let us go to the study and talk.” before I can manage to form the words.

part 2-->

Friday, March 10, 2006

Chapter 13: Bandages, pt 5

“No,” My honestly surprises even me. “But if you believe it is time, Papa, then I will.” Perhaps I am learning something.

“Come then.” He bids me stand at the water’s edge. In the still water I see my reflection an His. Gently, He opens my robe allowing me to see the wounds in the reflection. The injuries are brutal and threaten to overwhelm me, but I see Him in the reflection as well, making it bearable. The gashes look as though a great cat, a lion perhaps, has raked its claws across my belly, not just once, but several times. The lesions are deep, I wonder that the pain is not greater.

“My salve is still upon you and you are still walking in the numbness of old. Many function with such wounds. I want you to see these so that you will recognize he in others, so that you can bring the same healing you receive to others.” With a firm hand, He closes the robes and fastens them shut with the belt. “They must remain covered lest the flies come.”

“I thought they were gone.”

“Largely that is true, but they are always around, it only takes one to cause great damage.” He turns me to face Him now. “Do not allow doubt to spring up I you. I want to raise you to a new level of trust in my, no longer trusting in yourself but in what I have told you, in who I am and who I have raised you to be.”

“You make it sound so simple.” I reply ruefully.

Tenderly, He presses His hand to my cheek. I drink in this tenderness. He gently kisses my forehead and draws me into His embrace.

“I love you Papa,” I whisper. He just holds me.

Finally, He says, “Let’s return to the tree, we cannot begin the healing process here.”

As we walk I feel emboldened to speak from my heart. “Papa, I do not understand something. I am not afraid now. Other times when you have lead me to face something I have been afraid, even though You have been with me. But now I am not, why?”

“You are still numb. It is difficult for you to feel anything about this right now.” There is no condemnation in His tone, only explanation.

As we enter the shady grove, I see a place set with water and meat. “Come sit and eat.”

Suddenly I recognize the hunger gnawing at me. As I eat He begins to show me truths I have not understood.

Eph 1: 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm,
4. just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in his presence. In love
5. he predestined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will,
6. so that we would praise his glorious grace that he gave us in the Beloved One.
7. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our offenses, according to the riches of God's grace
8. that he lavished on us, along with all wisdom and understanding,
9. when he made known to us the secret of his will. This was according to his plan that he set forth in Christ

He shows me that I am chosen. He has predestined my effectiveness. I am not chosen because of anything I have done, but because of what Christ has done. He is pleased with His choices. His choices were made with full understanding of everything that would be.

Ringing in my ears over and over I hear ‘I am chosen’. He actually chose me! And understanding and faith that I never before knew begins to dawn. He chose me!

I see Him smile and nod at me. “Yes I have,” He says without recrimination of my slowness to believe. I feel a heaviness leave me, at least in part.

“Come, look at your wounds now.” He instructs, beckoning me to Him. He opens my robe to reveal my wounds. But they have changed now. They are cleaned, no longer full of debris and infection. The actually seem to be healing. I wonder that a meal alone could do this.

“Meat is very powerful.” He answers, closing by robe once again. “The wounds must remain open for now so that they might heal from the inside out. If they are closed now, they are likely to infect. But they must be protected.” He places a vest around me. The back is soft white wool, the front is heavy white leather. He laces the vest securely around me, protecting the open wounds I still bear. The vest strengthens me, supports me, like the old bandages did. But with this I can heal.

“Thank you, Papa,” I whisper, still surprised. I did not know what to expect, but certainly this was not it.

“Come, let us return to the castle. It is time to clean out the kitchen.”

Chapter 14-->

Chapter 13: Bandages, pt 4

Gingerly I rise to my feet. It is still hard even to stand. I feel unsteady through out. He puts His arm around me once again and I lean heavily upon Him as we begin to walk. With Him I walk to the edge of the garden, following the edge of the fence. I notice that the fence is iron now, no longer stone. The bars are about shoulder high with stone pillars separating the sections. The fence is not nearly so formidable as it used to be. I see some flowering vines beginning to row up the iron pickets.

“Those vines will bear fruit and draw others to your gate.” He tells me warmly. I think He is pleased.

Together we walk very slowly. I did not realize how much strength I was drawing wrapped up in my own efforts.

“You have worked so hard,” His voice brims with love not condemnation, ”It has driven you, given you no peace, not real peace but rather a counterfeit that was close enough that you would settle for it.”

It is true, what can I say? I want something more now, something that is real. He nods and smiles at me. “Why are we here? What…” I cannot find the words to ask the question on my heart.

“Because seeing these changes will strength you.”

I get a glimpse of something now, just briefly. All the tings I have been afraid of being asked to do, the things I cannot do, I am unable o do them because of something within me. As I am changed I will be able and no longer afraid.

He smiles and nods again, glancing toward the fence. “All that remains is for you to paint the fence and it will be finished.”

“So it does not have to come down?”

“No, the fence is necessary, you must have it. But it has locked you in as much as it has kept others out, so it had to change. Since I stand guard over your heart now, it serves a new purpose, one of the spirit, before it served the purposes of the flesh.”

I ponder on this as we wander to a more distant part of the garden. I do not think we have been here before. It is the spot farthest from the castle, the tree and the waterfall. But there are vines growing over the fence here as well. And in the distance I ser people outside the fence.

“Who are they, Papa?” I ask, suddenly unsettled by what I am seeing.

“They are those who will want to enter this garden because of the fruit they see.
There seems to be a lot of people, coming closer now, and I am afraid. He clearly sees what is happening now.

“Shhh, do not be afraid. Remember I keep guard here now, they cannot hurt you in the garden. They cannot hurt the garden, it is meant for them.”

His words do not make sense to me. I need some time to come to grips with this idea. “Papa, can we move away? I keep feeing as though I must do something here and I do not think that is what you want of me right now.” I whisper tentatively.

He smiles again. “You are getting stronger to see and resist the flesh. This is a step toward healing. You are right, these cannot come in until your wounds are truly healed. Come.” He wraps my arm in His, but does not put His arm around me this time, letting me stand more on my own. I am shaky, but I can walk this way. I still lean heavily on Him though.

As we walk, He speaks to me, teaching me. Finally, He tells me, “Child, I will reset your expectations and give you a platform for a new level of faith to arise in you so that you can walk in my purposes.”

“Be it unto me according to they word, Papa. I want what you want. I do not want to settle for something less. I want what you desire. “ I pause a moment, stumbling over my words. “Because, Papa, I think I can really trust you now, trust that you are not going to hurt me, to make my life difficult just because you can. I don’t think I ever know this before.”

We walk toward the castle now, stopping at a shaded bench by the moat. We sit down to rest. I am already so weary! From the bench I can see the colorful fish cavort in the water, the sight of such life fills me with joy.

“Are you ready to look at your wounds?’ He asks.

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Chapter 13: Bandages, pt 3

“Yes, Papa, please, heal these wounds. Remove the bandages.”

But He does not. Instead, He hands me the swords that He gave me. It has been a while since I have needed it. “You must cut them off with this.”

I am confused. This was not what I expected. I take the sword though, wondering what to do with it. I am afraid that I will injure myself with it, trying to remove the wraps that bind me.

“Do not fear, you cannot injure yourself with it. This will only cut through sin, through the flesh, but it will not wound you.” He takes both my hands in His. He holds His hand around my hand that holds the sword. My other hand He wraps tightly around the blade. With sure swift movements, He draws the sword though my hand. I can feel the sharpness, the power of it, but there is not blood, I am not wounded.

He releases me hands now and I draw a deep breath. Carefully, slowly, I begin to cut through the bandages swathing my core. “I am saved by grace, though faith. I am not justified by works. You promised you will always be with me, that you would not forsake me.” The first layer of bandages falls away There is a second underneath! I try to draw another deep breath, but the wraps hinder me, leaving me feeling suffocated. Biting me lip, I continue to cut away at the bindings. “I have been crucified with Christ, no longer do I live, but Christ lives in me. “ Finally I cut through the dressings and they fall away.

I drop the sword and screw my eyes shut. I do not want to look, I cannot! I suddenly realize I can breath now! Hungrily I draw deep breaths, I cannot remember breathing this deeply before. Slowly the suffocating feeling subsides and with it some of the panicky fear that I had felt.

“Come let Me help you was away the residue and begin to clean those wounds.” He carefully helps me sit up, then to stand.

I am so weak! I have been trusting in those bandages for so long for support that my core as become weak. The very I have worked so hard to strengthen, I find now is so incredibly weak!

He takes my left arm in His left and puts His right arm around me, helping me to walk to the water’s edge. Halfway there, I have to stop, I am not strong enough to continue. He gives me water and wipes the sweat from my cheeks, patiently waiting with me until I have regained enough strength to go on.

Finally we reach the water’s edge. Even there He does not release me, but rather walks with me into the water and under the water fall. As I stand there I realize how cold the water feels, not bitterly cold, but cold enough to be shocking, maybe even refreshing? The warmth of His hands carefully cleaning away the last of the bandages draws me from my considerations.

“Papa, forgive me for trusting in and leaning on my own works.” I breathe softly. I am clean now. It feels strange, weak and unsupported, and yet free at the same time.

He helps me back to the bank and out of the water. He scrutinizes my still open wounds. “These must be covered.” He pulls His robe around me firmly. “This was only the first step, you are not healed yet. If these are left uncovered, they will fester. My righteousness will protect you.”

I nestle into His robe, relishing the sense of safety even as I am reminded of my own weakness. “Papa, why did you have me cut the bandages off myself?” I ask, oddly unafraid this time.

“So you would know that you could do it and how to do it. Your flesh will seek out this support; seek to bind you up again. You need to know how to be free.” He explains without criticism.

I nod, trying to tuck this into my heart to keep for the future.

“You must be careful in this season, during this process. You are weak, do not try to carry excess burdens at this time. You need to grow stronger before you do.” He leads me a few steps further. “Now sit with me and eat, you need to gain strength.”

There is a picnic laid out on the sandy bank of the pool, set with milk, bread and meat. He bids me sit and eat. I sit down and He sits with me. Seeing the food I realize how hungry I am and I quickly drink the milk. The richness is delicious, but it only takes the edge ff my hunger. It is the meat that I am longing for. Never have I known meat to taste this good. It satisfies a deep hunger in my soul. It surprises me that I have not touched the bread, though. I have little desire for it. I am uncertain what to do. “Papa, what is the bread, should I not want it?”

“What do you think?” He replies cryptically.

“I know it should be, but something does not appear right.”

“Break it.”

I obey only to find the loaf is hollow and full of worms. In revulsion I drop it.

“This is the bread that many fill themselves up on rather than with my meat. It fills them up but does not satisfy their need. You chose well.” He explains.

I am still confused. This feels so strange. “Papa, I don’t understand, what is happening?”

“Child, I am taking you deeper than you have been before. I am showing you your heart. I already know it. But you must see it so that you will know what is there and who you are. I want you to be confident that I am for you and not against you and that you are for Me.

“Now, walk with me. You must become stronger and used to walking without those bandages before we can go further.”

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Chapter 13: Bandages, pt 2

Even now, the numbness touches my fear, dulling it, making me less willing for it to be taken from me. But how can I say no to Papa God? “How can I say no to You? “ I whisper, but so much of me is unsure and afraid, even unwilling. I can not imagine what it means to truly feel any more. I cannot remember the last time I actually felt without reservation. The thought of it actually frightens me more deeply that I realized.

“What you cannot feel right now is joy, child,” He breaks into my thoughts with gentle words that draw me from my own depths. “You have been deceived, the numbness only dulls the pain, it does not cover it up. It keeps you from feeling anything but the pain.”

I ponder what He has said. I cannot help but wonder if it is true, the possibility never occurred to me before. Can it be a lie? Kindly He strokes my furrowed brow soothingly. I think on Him, all that He had done for me, how He rushed in to sweep me into His arms the moment the door to my heart opened, how He healed the wounds on my back, not betraying my trust, my name carved upon the palm of His hand. How can I fail to trust Him now?

“Please, Papa, do it, set me free from this” I whisper, barely recognizing my own voice.

With a delicate touch, He smoothes His salve over the bandages that bind me from armpits to hips. I had never before noticed how tight and stiff they were, holding me together. He salve begins to soften the wraps, loosening them from me.

“What are these wraps, Papa?” I ask tentatively.

He is silent for a long time, as if contemplating how to help me understand. Finally He speaks, “They are the works of your flesh—the works you have done. You have worked so hard to keep from making a mistake, it is your perfectionism.”

The truth is so obvious, but it hits me like a rock. He is asking me to give up the only way I know how to be, how to cope. I can taste the panic rising in my throat, but the numbness rises too, to squelch even these feelings. I am not sure whether this is good or bad.

“Papa, what does this mean? What does this look like?” I am finally able to stammer, still fighting the urge to run. “I cannot fathom what this would look like.”

His answer is compassionate and patient; I still marvel at His incredible patience with me. I have never known such patience. “You are afraid letting go of these works will mean that you will just sit and watch and no longer be active. You are afraid that it means letting go and watching everything fall apart around you, seeing your nightmares come to pass and losing everything.”

I close my eyes as tears begin to flow. I can only nod in response. He knows me so well!

“Do not fear, that is not what this means, not at all.” At first, I cannot hear His reassurance. “It means letting go of the drive, the compulsion that has driven you so hard. You have been working hard, so hard to serve your flesh, not to serve Me. You will begin to serve Me with your whole heart, in freedom. You will continue to work, even hard at times, but without the specter of disaster looming over you, driving you to destruction. There will be freedom in all you do, not fear in all things. You will be able to say no without guilt or fear. You will find joy in what you do.”

His words have penetrated my reserve now and I am hanging on them. It takes me a moment to realize that He has paused. Finally I must ask, “But at what cost?”

I can feel Him smile wryly, “Yes, there is always a cost, my dear. You must give up your control, the assurance that your work will bring you success, what you want. You will have to give that up to Me. What you are accustomed to trusting in you will no longer have. You must give that over to Me. You will have to subdue your flesh.”

I wonder what it would be like, not to be able to rest in, to count on my own efforts, to have to let o of this crutch. The freedom beckons to me, enticing me. It is not enough. But, I trust Him, and this is enough.

part 3-->

Chapter 13: Bandages, pt 1

Even as I rest here with Him, a pang of fear touches me. I do not want to give it leave to remain, so I gather my courage to tell Him. It is still difficult to get used to the idea that He truly wants me to share the deepest things of my heart with Him.

“Papa,” I begin hesitantly. “Something scares me...” I can feel him nodding, encouraging me to go on. “I am afraid, desperately afraid that I will do something wrong or that You will see something in me and decide to turn away even before I know what I have done. I guess I’m afraid that if I am not perfect I’ll lose everything in You. I am terrified of making a mistake, any mistake, because it could mean I’ve lost everything.” It is difficult to admit this to Him.

He says nothing, but holds me and shows me a picture of myself as a little girl, being ignored for having done something wrong, but not knowing what she did or how to fix it and making things right again. She is afraid of losing relationship, of not existing any more. I remember this picture now, I’d pushed it aside now for many years. Reliving it now, the feelings are so poignant I can taste the fear as the overwhelming sadness fills my belly and edges into my throat. I see my mother turning her back on me now and a touch of panic edges into my awareness too. Surely this is the source of my fear.

“This is not justice.” His voice is very stern now and I fear that He is angry with me. I can feel myself tremble, though I try to hide it. “That was manipulation, not training the heart but scarring the soul. Your soul is deeply scared, wounded to the core from this. Your expectation is set and you have seen this over and over.”

Relief that His anger is not with me mixes with the bitter reminiscence of the empty aching of my heart. Tears threaten to overflow as my words pour forth. “There are no second chances for me.” The words are bitter on my tongue, I hate this fact I have lived with for so long.

“You haven’t needed many of them, have you?” His response surprises me, if anything I expected a lecture on why I was wrong in my belief.

“No, not really,” I stammer in reply. “There have been times I have lost, the loss has been big, but I have minimized those times, I guess. I’ve worked very, very hard to be good, to get it right the first try, or close enough to squeak by. I always wonder, I fear, when someone is going to catch on, to see through it all and realize that I am really just faking it and not a good as it all looks.” I know I have said these words before, but this is the first time I have ever felt heard or understood in this.

“It has been hard for you.” His words, though simple, are filled with deep compassion that belies their simplicity.

“Horribly. I am always so afraid it will all be taken away and I won’t even know why…” It is so easy to let the words flow with Him.

“My grace…” He whispers in my ear. “My grace…” over and over He whispers that to me. “My grace… it is unmerited favor. Unearned, unconnected with anything you have done. You cannot earn it or un-earn it, it is my grace…you are my grace. My grace is not about you or anything you have done. It is all about Me, so you cannot lose for anything you have done.” I begin to weep now. “Receive my grace, my grace…my grace. “He begins to whisper it over and over again in my ear. “My grace.”

“I submit my heart to your grace, Papa, I submit my heart to your grace.” I try to rest back into His arms and let this pain and fear finally go.

“This is not something you can just let go of, child. You must be healed of it. I must restore and heal those scars and wounds.” He explains kindly.

“I am willing Papa.”

“Those wounds go very, very deep.” He says, touching my heart, tracing a line down to my belly. They cut through every fiber of your being, every relationship, everything that you set out to do. They undermine all trust for you.”

“I know Papa! I know,” I cry, flinching as I see the wounds exposed. They are old wounds, unhealed through the years, ragged, bloody and deep crisscrossing my belly.

“They are cruel wounds. And yet, you have persisted.” He pronounces as if passing judgment.

I feel I must explain. “I bandaged them together the best I could…” I now see the filthy rags I used to try and hold the wounds together, to cover them and function in spite of them. They have been in place a long time and it shows. The bandages are horrid and vile to behold.

“But they have not brought you healing, only functioning to a degree.” His declaration cannot be argued or dismissed.

Sadly, I nod, wishing for more than to just function wrapped in these filthy rags, but not having even an image to hope from. They have been a part of me for so long I do not know what it would like look to function without them. “I want healing, Papa, I want to be whole. Most of all I want to be able to trust you completely! Please, Papa, touch and heal these wounds.” It is an effort to find the hope even to say these words.

Gently He nods as He moves from behind me, carefully laying me down, wounds exposed, on the branch. Carefully He examines the wounds. Although He has done nothing yet, I find that I am growing anxious. “These bandages must be removed. You have become numb beneath them.”

His words call a new fear to life. I have been numb for along time, but that numbness is safe. I can not feel much, but it keeps the pain bearable. I have always been willing for this inevitable trade off. But to feel joy, without pain? It is tempting, but at what cost? Can I face Him touching so deeply?

part 2-->

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chapter 12:Listening to His Whisper pt.3

“Can I talk to you Papa?” I ask.

“Always,” He reminds me, encouraging.

“This was so difficult, Papa. I do not understand. I really did not want to leave that comfortable place with You, especially since it seems that I have just found it. It feels like I have lost it again.

“It hurts, Papa, even now it hurts. You tell me that I did this right, that You are pleased, but my feelings tell me the opposite. Please, I guess I just need Your reassurance right now.” I am reluctant to ask for it though, thinking that perhaps I should not need it.

“My child,” He breathes, tenderly pressing His hand to my face. “You did right. You see, it was only in that closeness that your heart could hear My whisper. And you did hear it, leaping to My call.

“You could have ignored it, and waited. If you had, I would have called and invited you to deal with this thing again and again. But, had you continued to resist, I would have had to bring a rebuke to you as I did before.”

I cringe at the thought, before I realize it. My heart still stings in remembrance of His rebuke.

“The correction had to come, you know that. But in this way, when you responded quickly, it was much easier.” I hear myself laugh ruefully at this, but He nods firmly, stopping me. “Yes, easier and less painful to you. You are sitting here with Me now, not flinching away in fear with a wall between us because you chose to quickly obey.

“Yes, you pleased me.” He hugs me briefly, I press my head to His arm.

“If this was right, why does it still hurt so?”

“Sin damages much. When you repented much was torn down. But what your heart longs for is not yet present. It is time for rebuilding.”

“But how!” Frustration fills my voice. “I don’t know how to do this relationship differently. I don’t know what You want from me!”

“Trust Me.” I am reminded of His promise and some of the tense frustration leaves me. “Simply change your response to her. You have responded defensively out of the deep hurts that have remained unhealed and the expectation of more of the same. Stop. I guard your heart now. You do not need to be defensive any longer.”

His words arrest my attention. The possibility of not having to be on constant guard, protecting myself has never occurred to me. If He guards me now…. I realize with a powerful suddenness that what He asks, I can do!

“I can do that, Papa! I will do what You ask! I will obey You, I will obey!” A tension drains from me, leaving me feeling weak in its wake. “I expected You to demand so much more of me.” I stammer finally.

“That is a deception of the flesh. When it cannot distract you from My way, it will demand more than My way, demanding what will cause you to fail.” He explains. “I am releasing you, giving you freedom now, to be who I made you to be. Do not allow other demands to change that, to cause you to pursue other than that.”

“Yes, Papa.” I sigh resting in His arms. I love this place, surrounded by Him.

Chapter 13-->

Chapter 12:Listening to His Whisper pt.2

At the waterfall, I try to wash, but it is hard. I hurt-I just plain hurt right now and still I have no answers. What am I supposed to do now? Looking down, I see I am still stained, stained with guilt and shame for what I have done, what I have clung to I do not know what to do.

“Repent, wash” His voice is kind but firm.

No more! I think – I am tired, deeply weary and want to be done. I do not want to obey. But I remember His stinging rebuke – I do not want that either and if I do not obey that will come until I do. So I obey. “I repent of accepting this guilt, this worldly sorrow that is not from You.” I see how I have been drawing it into myself, like the pain, and holding on to it, building my world upon it. “I repent, Papa, I let it go, I release it, forgive me!” Finally I see the stains washing away.

I am clean, but my heart is heavy. I look for Him, but do not see Him. “Papa, where are You?” Panic fills my voice. Did the reluctance in my obedience drive Him away?

“I am here.” I hear His voice by the tree. It reminds me that He said the tree was a place of reconciliation as well. I begin to walk out of the water, but it is difficult. I ache all over and my heart is heavy. I grieve for what I have done and still feel without direction. By the time I reach Him I am chilled and cold throughout.

Silently, He dresses me in His robes once again. The fabric, though soft and warm, feels weighty against the aching places of correction. I cannot lift my eyes to look at Him now. It seems like we stand that way for a long time.

Finally, He directs me. “Kiss my face.”

Of all the things I did not expect Him to say! This was certainly the first on that list! At first I am too stunned to obey.

“Kiss Me.” His firm voice repeats his direction.

“How can I?” I wonder. If I could, I would disobey, but I am too afraid of His rebuke for that. Lifting up my head is unbelievably hard, but I do. I stretch on tip toes to reach, even as He bends down to meet me. Carefully, very gingerly, I kiss His face.

As I do, He sweeps me into a deep embrace, lifting me from my feet into His arms.

“How can you do this?” I protest.

”How can I not?” He shows me that we are looking at different things. I see my sin, He sees repentance. “You heard the whisper of My spirit and left a place of comfort today even though there would be pain. You saw your sin and repented. How could I not be pleased?”

“But I am unclean! Beneath this robe I am stained and unclean! How can you bear to touch me?”

“You have been washed by your repentance. The robe is to cover any stain that remains yet to be washed. I see only My righteousness in you.”

He carries me to the tree, to sit with Him on that branch. Tucking my head under His chin, He embraces me in a bear hug as before. I feel tired, still unclean. I wish I could see what He sees.

But all I can see is how I have failed Him again. I am grieved and still do not know what to do. Now that I have repented and sought change, what do I do? How do I do things differently? But in this moment I even fear to ask.

“Oh, my precious child…” He begins.

“Precious?” I wonder.

“Yes, precious. You have greatly pleased Me. In this moment you feel so distant, but you are closer than you know. You sought to remove what would come between us and you have even though it cost you in the process. I am pleased to know that you value this closeness enough to pay for it in your flesh.”

I ponder this concept for a while. “It hurts, Papa.” I whisper, finding this is all I can discover this is all I can find to say.

“I know.” He replies, confirming what He said a moment before. With a gentle hand, He reaches from his embrace to stroke my face. His touch soothes some of the raggedness of my soul.

“Papa,” my voice still a whisper, “I dread what you are going to tell me to do. I fear that—I fear that you intend to humiliate me, to hurt me. I know change is needed, but I fear you will make that a way to pay me back, I guess, retaliate against me for what I have done.” I hang my head in sorrow, for I am ashamed at the contents of my heart. “I’m sorry Papa.”

“Little one, I know you are afraid—afraid of Me. Some of that fear is right. You should fear my rebuke, that helps you to obey when your flesh cries out otherwise. But the pain of rebuke is only to bring you to obedience, the pain of correction to bring you to repentance. Once you have come to that place, I do not continue to use pain to train you. I want you to understand that I do not treat my children,” He lifts my chin to cause me to look at Him, “My daughter that way, that pattern you know from your mother’s ways, not from mine.”

Immediately I see what He means. “Papa, forgive me! I repent of those judgments and expectations I have been carrying from the wrong way I have seen You because of my mother’s ways. Please, change my heart! Help me to see You rightly! ” I cannot hold back this cry from Him, even though I do no know what to expect.

“Shhh,” He presses my head back to His bosom. “I will not change these things in you with harshness but with My gentleness.” He softly strokes my cheek again. I find I want to hide from Him though, afraid that at any moment for no reason I can understand He will explode in anger. “No, you must receive my tenderness, my love right now. This is why you wear My righteousness and not your own. Yours is not sufficient, mine is.
“No, you are not perfect. I am perfecting you. Just sit here with Me and let My love penetrate your hurts. We can not talk about what to do until you remember where you are.”

So I lean back into His arms and rest a while. Slowly, I feel a peace beginning to creep over me.

Part 3-->

Chapter 12:Listening to His Whisper pt.1

Even as I rest in His arms, my mind is drawn to an issue, a thorn that I have not overcome, one that continues to plague my thoughts and my heart. I am reminded of Ezk 5:7…you have not followed my decrees or kept my standards…. I know this cannot remain or it will become a gulf separating Him and me. I do not want to break this closeness now, but I do not want anything that will separate us to remain.

He told me this was a place for reconnecting, that He would deal with issues, but would not push me away. I procrastinate a few moments, but no, I cannot allow this to grow between us. “Papa?”

“Yes, child.” There is something in His voice that reminds me He already knows, none of this surprises Him.

“You know what I am thinking…” I try to avoid bringing it up.

“Yes. Tell me any way.”

There is now no way around confession I suppose. “I am seeing something now, that there are issues I have with a person, a woman, the issues run deep. I know I thought I’d dealt with forgiveness, but I think there is more than that. I cannot seem to get past this on my own. I think I need your help.” I cannot suppress a deep sigh. “Your correction, to turn from this. I cannot see this clearly, but You can. I want real change in this, this time, nothing half way, like it has been. I know there has been sin, but You, only You can show me where. Please, Papa, correct my heart. Change and transform me into what You desire. I fear pride has crept in…please, help me through this.” I close my eyes in shame.

But, He hugs me nonetheless. I feel Him smile on me even as He releases me and begins to rise from our sitting place. “I am pleased, little one, I am pleased.” He begins, as He walks to face me. “You heard My whisper to your heart and responded, I am pleased.” He nods thoughtfully at this.

I wish that was more comforting to me right now. I know it should be, but the anxiety and dread I feel threaten to overpower. I cannot look up, even as I wait for Him to begin to show me the awfulness of my sin. “Papa, please, change my heart,” I whisper, covering my face in shame. “I do not want to be apart from You.” I stiffen in preparation for the truth.

“First, “ His voice is stern. “Repent and confess what you already know.”

It is difficult, but I begin. “I think I have been jealous, Papa. I repent of my jealousy, I repent. I repent of the pride will not submit, that finds fault and criticizes. I repent of this pride. I see now how I have dishonored You in all this, Papa, by not seeing and receiving this rightly. I repent for dishonoring You!

“Oh, this hurts to see!” I cry out more to myself than to Him. “Change me! I don’t want to keep this any longer!” He begins to painfully reveal my sin to me. “Rebellion! Oh Papa, I have been in rebellion against you. I repent, I repent. My independence has become an idol to me! I repent of my idolatry.”

My sobs are ragged now as I convulse with the gut wrenching agony of this revelation. How much I hate idolatry and how guilty of it I am! I notice suddenly that my hands are clenched as well. I know there is something that I must release. “I submit to you Papa! Show me what this is!”

He does not hesitate to show me. I see a judgment against an alcoholic mother and a vow that no woman would ever speak into me, ever be over me again. The throbbing ache of heart that made these judgments rises fresh once again. “Forgive me! Forgive me!” I sob, forcing my hands to open and release the judgments and vows they hold. The effort though is agony.

“Show me how to do this right, Papa! I will obey, I will! I want to do this Your way!” Even as the words pour forth, a new fear overtakes me. “But I am afraid, Papa! I am afraid! She hurt me—she hurt me so much I am afraid to let her touch me!” I never realized the fear resident in this place, nor that this fear itself was sin as well!

This latest revelation is too much for me, every fiber of my being wants to run from seeing these things! I cannot do this on my own, I can’t! “Papa! Help me, please, please give me Your arm! Help me stay here to be changed!” My own strength is not sufficient here.

He does not hesitate, even the barest of moments. He is there, giving me His arm to cling to, to draw strength from, even as His correction continues.

“I repent of this fear! Of setting her before You as more to be feared than You – as another idol! Forgive me!” I weep bitterly falling to His feet. I think I am there along time – His feet are wet with tears. I feel myself drawing into myself with the shame and stain of what I have seen.

But He calls to me, extends His hand. I must reach out though to take it. It takes me a long time. He is patient and waits for me. And finally I do, I reach for Him. His strong arms help me to my feet and He leads me to the waterfall. On the way I cry. “Forgive me for being critical, for looking for things to find fault with!” We stop; I begin to fall to my knees once again.

“Stop now, conviction is becoming condemnation now. Do not go there.” His voice is very firm. I dare not disobey, even though the guilt still draws me.

Part 2-->

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chapter 11: His grace pt 2

We are quiet for a long while. Finally, though, He breaks the comfortable silence. "Come, let Me show you something you have not seen here yet." He takes me a short distance from the place where we had been sitting. He lifts the leaves of a large, deeply green plant. There are mushrooms growing on an old log beneath the leaves. "There is fruit in this place." He explains, plucking a small mushroom for me to taste.

He brushes off the dirt carefully and hands it to me. I am surprised as I bite into it. The taste is rich, with the flavor of meat.

"Unexpected." He remarks. "Few expect or bear fruit in this place, but it is here. It is growing on what you have put to death. The soil is rich for such growth. Few will taste it though. Most will only have the sweet fruit that grows in the sun. Few will find the richness that grows here.

"Like this fruit, you are rare, your personality, disposition is unusual and misunderstood." I nod at the truth and pain of these words. He puts His arm around me now. "It is my design and purpose though. I have made you rare…rare and precious to do the work I have fitted you for. You are blessed."

I am confused. I have always seen myself as broken, flawed, unfit and undesirable.

"You must learn to see yourself differently now." His tone is now more of a command than a suggestion. "You need to go forward, not stay in the past."

His words hand heavy in the air for a time. I know what I must do, however much I do not want to. He has touched upon an area of comfort for me. My picture of who I am, flawed though it may be, is not something that I truly want to change. I am comfortably uncomfortable with it. And yet, I cannot, I dare not resist His command. Swallowing hard, I finally respond, "Papa, forgive me for hanging on this flawed identity, for not lining up with what You say about me."

As I offer these words to Him something begins to break in me. I bury my head in His shoulder, tears trickling down my cheeks. I feel something dropping from my hand. Looking down, I see a lead charm, like a dog-tag laying on the ground. The identity I had created for myself!

"Then who am I?" The words come out more as a sob. "How am I to know?"
"I have already told you. You wear it around your neck."

My hand goes to the diamond heart I now wear, engraved with my name. I think I had forgotten it! "Papa, forgive me!" I begin to sob.

"Shhh--you will learn."

We rest there for a while and I continue to try and pour my heart out to Him. It is difficult, though, I have trained myself for a long time to hold it all in, so that I would not be hurt or rejected. Now I must unlearn, start again.

"Papa, I think the thing in all of this that I fear the most is missing You. I am terrified of looking up and finding myself lost and without You." I finally confess to Him.

"You do not have to fear that, child. There is always a place for us to meet. If you call to Me, I will always meet you there. Now that it is planted here in your heart, you will always find the way."

"But I thought that was a place for correction…" I stammer, I do not understand Him.

"Come, I will show you." As He rises, He helps me to my feel. Wrapping my arm in His, he begins to lead me back to the garden grove.

I am uneasy, fearful as He leads me gently from the shade garden back to the tree. Once we arrive, my anxiety grows deeper, becoming dread.

"Share your concerns with Me now." He invites, leaning against the powerful trunk of the stately magnolia.

I find myself concentrating on the smooth, unscarred bark of the tree, trying to distract myself of the fear that is gripping me. I fear His anger, expect to receive pain from Him. "Papa! Forgive me for still holding on to this expectation, this fear! For seeing you wrongly and not getting it right yet!" The words flow from my heart like water, unable to be contained. I fall to my knees at His feet weeping violently. A part of me, my flesh I suppose, expects rebuke, pain, at the least disappointment from Him. But it does not come.

Instead, He is crouching there with me, His hand gently on my shoulder. "I am here." He reminds as He helps me to my feet and pulls me into His embrace. "This is not just a place of correction, it is a place of reconciliation, of reconnection for us. Come, sit with Me."

We sit together on the lowest branch of the tree. He straddles the branch, leaning against the tree's trunk and draws me into a bear hug, my back to His chest, tucking my head under His chin. "I have so much more for you child, now that you are freed, you will see the lavishness of your Father. There is much I want to give you, do not doubt and you will see that."

I warm in the depths of this embrace and something within me comes to life. I cannot contain my smile and even laughter. I see how blessed I am as the light dawns on me. "My name is grace--unmerited favor!" All my life I have struggled with my name, bearing the brunt of childish jokes and taunts. And yet, it has been there all along. He has called me grace and every time someone speaks my name they are speaking a blessing over me! Every time I write my name, I am confirming what He has done. It has been there all along. How could I have missed it for so many years!

Impulsively, with a fearful boldness, I reach up and kiss His cheek. For a moment, I am afraid, until I feel His smile and a tightening of His embrace. I begin to laugh within His arms, relaxing into His embrace. The laughter continues to well up in me, coming from a very deep place within me, one that has been dormant for a long time, and it fills me with comfort.

He rocks me gently now. "You are my grace and that is my call on you. My grace. My grace is sufficient. My grace is sufficient, my grace." Over and over He says 'my grace' until it echoes from the castle walls and resounds within me, His Grace.

Finally, I am beginning to feel His love. Slowly, slowly but certainly, it is filling me. I love my Papa God.

Chapter 12-->

Chapter 11: His grace pt 1

When I awake, I find my head in His lap His hand on my shoulder. The morning sun lights the shade garden with the cool newness of morning. I breathe in the freshness, the life of this place.

"You did not expect to find such life in these shadows." His voice is soft, like the breeze in this place.

"No, no I did not. When you brought me here I thought it was yet another vulture's warren to battle." I hate to admit this, but somehow it is easier to say with my head in His lap.

"Few are able to find gardens in their shadows." He is quiet for a long moment. The sounds of morning, of life, fill the air with a quiet anticipation. "Let Me touch you." His words are an offer, not a command.

I roll over from my side, expecting Him to once again touch my heart. Instead though, He gently strokes my face with His fingertips. His touch is so gently, yet full and rich. I am not sure I understand what this means.

"The face is the most intimate of touch." He explains.

I try to rest in His touch, but the emptiness of the previous night remains. "Papa, I want to feel this! But I cannot!" The emptiness in my heart seems to be numbing me.

"Shh--it is alright." He comforts, continuing to stroke my cheek. "It will take time for you heart to become accustomed to gentleness like this. It became toughened to hold the pain. Be patient, it will come."

"I will Papa, I will." I reply, swallowing hard against the instinct to run from the emptiness I feel. We are quiet for a long time as He ministers in His gentleness to me, beginning to teach me to receive His tenderness, to believe in it, to accept it rather than my expectation of hurt. "Papa, can I touch your face?" I am taken back by my own boldness, fearful I have crossed a line with Him that I should not have approached.

Gently, He takes my hand and presses it to His cheek. He holds it there and I feel Him smile. The relief rushes over me as I know I have done no wrong. I feel something swelling within me, something small, but promising to fill some of that emptiness within me. "Papa, I want my heart to be released to you, to contain what it should and to refuse what should not be there." I can only whisper for fear of losing the moment.

He presses my hand to His heart now. I feel safe. I feel so safe! Releasing my hand, He tenderly strokes my cheek. This time I can just barely feel something. He nods, smiling.

"I submit my heart to You." I whisper again. "I release my heart to receive from You, to hold the love it was designed for. I repent for clinging to the wrong things. Papa, I repent!" An unexpected cry fills my voice as it breaks over these words.

He holds my hand to His cheek once again. I am transfixed in the closeness of the moment, but still a little afraid. "I will never rebuke you for wanting closeness, intimacy with Me. There may be things that may stand in the way that have to be dealt with first, but I would never rebuke your desire."

Relief fills me. "I was afraid I'd stepped too close." I whisper, still feeling as though I should apologize.

"You cannot step too close, daughter. It delights Me to hear your heart speak so freely." I feel a warmth in His words and begin to have a glimpse of the lavishness of a king's love.

I'd never seen it before, that love could be extravagant and lavish. Somehow, it had always seemed almost one way. All was due Him, it would be wrong to expect anything from Him. I am seeing now this is wrong. The King delights to bless, to come to the aid of whom He loves.

I am struck at my own blindness, my own misunderstanding of His character. I'd put such limits on Him in my own mind, limits on what He would do with and for me. My foolishness! "Papa. Forgive me! Forgive the way I have limited you, misunderstood, misrepresented you!" I cry out grieving.

He lightly kisses my hand in response. "I will show you a lavish love, more than you have ever know before. You will see it." He whispers in my ear.

"I want to receive this! Papa, what can I do?"

"You have become too passive, become more active in sharing your heart with Me. You do not need to wait for Me to ask."

I suddenly see how much I have been keeping from Him, working out in my own head, but not with Him. I do not share with Him out of habit, for fear of rejection, although He has known it always. I have been much, much too passive! "Forgive me Papa! But what do I share with You? What do You want?"

"Share your heart with Me. Do not wait for Me to ask, come to Me with it yourself."

"I will Papa." He reminds me of Ps 32
1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer. Selah
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. Selah

"As you have confessed your sins to Me in these days, I have been quick to forgive and restore what the locust has eaten and the canker worm destroyed. You have not yet seen the extent of the restoration that has been achieved even in this short time. But you will. I am taking you through this intensity now that you might be a guide to others in this same journey. Seeing the deep sins of the heart and how they oppress, how in My righteousness I cannot leave them unchastened and how in My mercy I have given you a way out, for yourself will enable you to guide others in this. Blessed are you now that your sins are forgiven. You need to come to a full understanding of the releasing power of forgiveness so that you may teach it in a new power."

I listen carefully to all He has says, thinking on it for a long time. Finally I ask, "Can I talk to you about that Papa?"

He draws me into His lap to listen to me. Resting my head against His heart, I begin to pour my heart out to Him. I am surprised at what comes out for it is not what I expected to talk with Him about. But He listens to me with an intensity I have never known before. Usually I am the listener. Rarely have I ever been listen to by someone who truly wants to hear me. I pour my heart out to Him, surprising even myself by what I share, sharing what no one else has ever heard. With a quiet and gentle hand, He comforts and directs me, calming my anxious fears and doing exactly what He said He would, offering me His acceptance and love in spite of all I still carry.

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