“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.”
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.”