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.