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.