Thursday, March 02, 2006

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.

part 2-->

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