Sunday, April 16, 2006

Chapter 22: Broken glass pt 4

He leads me to His chair. I sit at His feet, my back to the fire, facing Him. He is still holding my torn hands. “You believe that those who hurt you faced no consequences, that they have been blessed in spite of what they did to you. But you confuse My gifts and calling that are irrevocable, with My blessings that are often conditional. Let Me show you.”

He shows me images of consequences each has paid related to their behavior toward me. I do not know if they know the relationship, but it is there. Then He reminds me of the abundance of blessing I have received. I realize once again how blessed I am and how very blind I have been.

“Papa, forgive me, I did not see, forgive me!” I rest my head on His knew. “Thank You for showing me.”

“You are forgiven child. That is why I am teaching you.”

“I though I had forgiven all this. I don’t understand why is this still here?”

“Forgiveness does not heal the pain, it only opens the door to begin the healing process. You just pushed the pain down and never sought healing for it. It is time now for healing.”

Once again I feel so very angry about all that happened, so betrayed, so angry, so wronged. I do not want to keep carrying it around, but I also do not want to open the doors to it all happening to me again.

“There is no sin in your anger, but do not allow it to become sin.” He carefully explains. He seems so aware of my pain, so attentive to it. “Your wounds are real, child and have cut you to the core of your being. I want to bring you healing.”

“How—what must I do?” I stammer. The pain is a familiar companion and I am tempted to let it stay. But no, He does not want that and I must obey. I want and listen, though reluctantly. I want to hide, to withdraw, not to wait on His reply. My mind races with ways to run and hide. But I stay.

“First, you must want to be healed. You have been defining yourself with this pain of yours now. A large part of you does not want to let it go.” He finally replies, squeezing my wounded hands gently, as if to remind me He is still holding them.

I sigh heavily, His words challenge me. He is right, I do not really want to let it go. “Papa, forgive me, I do want to be rid of this. I am tired of being the martyr. I do not want it any more and I want to be free.”

“Good,” He rises from the chair and helps me to my feet. Still holding my hands, He puts His arm around my shoulder, “Come, let us go outside.”

He walks with me outside into the courtyard within the castle walls. It is still barren. Though there is sunlight, no plants are growing, only barren dry soil and dust.

“This courtyard is the place you wear all the pain, the place you are keeping it. It is a lifeless and forbidding place that people have to cross to reach your heart. Letting Me heal your pain means transforming this courtyard into a place where you can bring others, an inviting and welcoming place.”

I look out over the yard again. It is such a contrast to the garden, so lush and green beyond the castle walls. “I want to change it, Papa. I do not know how.” My voice seems so small n this place, wounded and dejected.

“Come then. We will begin here.” We walk to a spot just beside the gates that open out to the bridge. He hands me a fat seed like the ones He showed me what seems like so long ago. “Plant this.”

I take the seed in my hand and it round several times. I wonder what will grow from it. I try to dig a whole with my hands, but the ground is too dry and hard.

“Use the sword.” He instructs.

I obey, recalling the word of Ps. 51:12: Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

The soil gives easily under the sword. I place the fat seed into the hole.

“Water it now.”

The moat around the castle is the nearest source of water. So I cross the bridge and cup water into my hands. The water is cool and soothing on my wounded hands. Carefully, I take back the water and pour it over he planted seed. The water has washed the blood from my hands and I can see the wounds begin to close.

“There must be something now to fill the void left by the pain. This will grow up to take the place of that pain. It will grow quickly.” He nods at me. I think He is pleased.

Placing His arm around my shoulders again, He guides me back inside to the study once again.
“Now, look into the remaining boxes.” He instructs, turning me toward them and guiding me gently there.

I do not want to look at them again I already feel like I am hurting enough right now. As I peek into the first and then the second box, I am astonished to find that there is no more broken glass! “I don’t understand, Papa, what happened?”

“In confronting these issues, you have released all of it. You no longer have to carry it around, unless you choose to pick it up again.”

“No I don’t want it back! “ I hurriedly reply. “What should I do with these though? The pictures are all framed, but I am sure I do not want to display these images.” The elegantly framed pictures are not ones I want to look at continually. Even without the broken glass, they are painful to see.

“You are right, these are not for display. Take them out of the frames, out of the places of prominence. Stack them and put them in the drawer under the book stand. There you can keep them safely. You can hold on to what you have learned, but keep it in the shadow of My Word.

Looking at the pictures as little as possible, I quickly obey, putting the painful images into the drawer. “What should I do with these?” I ask, pointing to the now empty boxes.

“Burn them, the frames too. There is no need to hold on to such things.”

Some of the frames are very beautiful. I feel a pang or regret at destroying them. Realizing my feelings, I hurry to obey, lest I become distracted and fail to do as He bids me.

“Come sit with Me.” He invites as the fire flares brightly, consuming all it has been offered. He sits down and draws me into His lap once again. It feels good to have his arms around me once more. I feel safe here; finally I feel I can rest.

“I will give you rest, daughter. And I will bless you in the coming days. You will sow seeds that will reap a plentiful and significant harvest. You will see the move of My hand and the favor of your Father in rich and abundant ways.”

“Thank you, Papa,” I whisper.

“Now, rest in Me.”

Chapter 23

Chapter 22: Broken glass pt 3

We walk back to the fireplace, His hand gently on my shoulder. I sit beside to box again and must my courage to look within. The topmost picture is large. The simple frame is intact, but the glass is broken into large, wickedly sharp shards. The picture is a collage of our move from old house and of people, from the church, who were involved in that process.. Memories and the pain from them come flooding back. Broken promises, promises that we would not be damaged by certain people who broke contract with us. Feelings of blame for expecting integrity, feeling blamed for the whole thing because of my expectations; no accountability, no repentance, no consequences.

Even now, the feelings are so fresh! I am so angry, so hurt. I cannot help but weep. How could You let this happen? How could You condone this? How could You bless them for this?” I am livid, even at Him. The strength of my reaction surprises me; I cannot contain it any longer. I begin to curse them at the top of my lungs. “Damn them! Damn them!” I am too hurt and too angry to even be afraid of His reaction. Tears are flowing freely down my cheeks, falling into my hands, burning the cuts from the broken glass. Trying to brush them away, I only manage to smear blood from my hands across my face.

I feel His hand gently on my shoulder. “You know, you must break those curses.” He tells me softly. There is no anger in His voice, only compassion.

Part of my –my anger-wants to argue, but I do not. Over each one, I whisper,” I repent Papa, for cursing them. I break that curse over them, I break that curse. I bless them now. Bless them Papa, bless them to overcome the curse….” My words fade into bitter weeping and I turn to Him, “You have blessed them, blessed them in spite of what they have done. They experienced no consequences—it didn’t matter. There was not price to be paid for what they did. None of that mattered to You!” Part of me cannot believe my own boldness in this moment. “What they did to me did not matter to You and You blessed them!” I hang my head now, whispering, “I want Your blessing too—I want to ask for Your blessing too. But after all that has happened, how can I expect…” I cannot finish through my tears.

His response is gentle and simple. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find…”

“I want your blessing, Papa—please bless me, too.” My voice is breathy and weak, I can manage no more than that.

He squeezes my shoulder in His strong hand. “Release the pain to Me.” His instruction is firm.

I stare through my tears at my hands, torn and bloody, full of broken glass. “Why? What did it matter then? What difference did it make? I did not matter then, what does it matter now?” My hands close convulsively around the glass driving it deeper into my palms.

“It did matter then, child. It mattered very much. I was there with you in all of those moments, let me show you.”

I see images: a cowardly half apology, one blaming me for expecting better from others. But this time He is in the picture and I can see He is not pleased, I even see tears.
It is so clear now, He was not pleased, not condoning, not blessing it all. He was unhappy with it all. This was not what He desired!

“Let it go now.” He tells me again.

Purposefully, I begin to throw the glass shards into the fire, watching the flames flare with each addition. Finally my hands are empty, but there are shards embedded in my hands and I cannot remove them. The pain intensifies and I can think of only one things to do. I hold my hands out to Him, wordlessly as I have nothing left to say.

He takes my hands in His with a healing gentleness and begins the work of removing all the slivers from my hands. The process takes a long time. When finally He is finished, He keeps my hands in His left and takes my chin in His right hand. He lifts my chin to look into my face. With incredibly delicacy He begins to clean the blood off my face, removing tiny glass shards from my cheeks, my eyes and even my ears, and throwing them into the fire.

His compassion only brings me to tears once more and I silently weep again. He lets me cry myself out. Finally, He speaks again,” I have blessed you my child, more than you understand. I have given you abundance as your expectation. Come let Me teach you.”

Part 4-->

Chapter 22: Broken glass pt 2

I find His last statement confusing and contrary to what I have been taught. I had been told over and over that “God doesn’t care about your happiness, He cares about your perfecting. I just knew my happiness was irrelevant, something that just should not, did not matter to a real Christian. I’d been taught not to consider it, not to dwell on it. I cannot grasp what He is talking about. “I don’t understand, Papa, you care about that?” The words pour out before I can censor them.

“Yes I do. Is not the fruit of the Spirit joy?”

Joy? Happiness? He really means actually being happy? Somehow the concept never before seemed possible. I has always assumed that I was too imperfect to ever be at a point where I could be happy and also be pleasing Him.

“Yes, Happy with a real joy beyond what the world portrays as happiness. A deep contentment and security in my love and goodness. You cannot have that in the midst of all this pain an your belief that I approve and sanction it all.”

“So all this is not pleasing to You? This was not the way you wanted me to feel, not what you wanted me to understand? This was not to be the fruit of my service?” My feelings pour painfully out as I hit the core of a deeply held belief.

“How could those things, the wounds, the pain, be the legitimate fruit of the good seed you have sown? No these are not your fruits. They are the weeds growing among the harvest. Your harvest has barely been touched. The painful wounds have stood in the way of gathering even a fraction of it.

“Child, I have wept and mourned with you over these things even when you had no tears left to cry. Every wound, each blow to your heart and spirit I have felt in myself. Even when you did not know and understand the damage, you just felt the dull throb of the wounds, I was there beside you, offering comfort that you did not know how to receive.

“Receive that now from Me. Let Me share in taking the pain from you and leave in its place the growth and strength that you have gained through it. I want you to grow past all this now, grow into more and greater things.”

“Yes, Papa, “ I whisper, my eyes misty with tears. I need time to process all He has just said. “I will, I will.”

I find myself still struggling with the idea that He is concerned with my happiness. I never really knew I was allowed or even supposed to be happy.

“You are thinking as a servant.” He explains. “The servant’s happiness is irrelevant to the master. You are more than a servant. You are my child and my friend.
I want you see you walk in a joy that will be your strength. Your strength has come from determination, from sheer stubbornness and your ability to set pain aside. You have come to a point where you are weary and what once was sufficient is no longer enough. My joy is to be your strength now. Let it replace that pain.”

A tear quietly slides down my cheek, followed by another and another. I am wary. My own strength is not enough to continue. I really do want what He offers.

“Come to the windows with Me.” He takes my hand to help me up and guides me to the tall windows. He stands behind me as I look out on the grove, the tree and the waterfall. Pulling me to Him, He wraps His arms around me. “This is your promise that you will not be disappointed. It is our place of meeting where we will always be reconciled.

I realize that in my fear of disappointment, the pain I already know is easier to hold than the fear of losing happiness. The pain of the disappointment is so great that I must avoid it at all costs.

“Expect abundance now, daughter.” His voice intrudes on my innermost thoughts.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the coins in their place in the cabinet.
“You are fighting against it even now..” He continues.

I look down, surprised to find myself guarding against His embrace.

“You do not have to fight this any longer. I will not disappoint you or leave you or turn you away.”

I know I must make a choice at this moment, I must make a statement of faith, the feeling just do not conform. “I will not fight against this joy any longer. I will receive what you are trying to give me. Forgive me, Papa, for fighting you for so long.” I stop pushing His arms away and begin pulling them into me.

“The joy that I have to you is not a joy that resides in the things of the flesh. It is a deeper lasting strength, born of a confidence in my loving kindness. What I give you now is only a small portion of what I have for you. I give it to you now to strengthen you in going through those remaining boxes.”

I hear the pleasure in His voice as He explains this to me. The knots in my belly feel like they are being undone. As the ache within in is fading away a new strength and energy is taking its place. I find my thoughts freed to consider what there was not room or energy for before. “This is what you mean? This is what you want for me?” I ask, feeling a little weak in the release of the inner tension.

“Yes, little one,” He kisses the top of my head. “This and more. There will be room for more when you release to Me the pain you carry.”

He was right, I needed this because now I truly want to let it all go to Him. I can face going through the old hurts having tasted what He promises on the other side.
“Come then, let us begin again.”

Part 3-->

Chapter 22: Broken glass, pt 1

“Give Me what is hurting you here.” His kind voice breaks me out of my reverie.
I do not understand, but then I see a framed picture on the window sill. The frame has no glass in it and in my hands I hold the shards of the broken glass from the frame. The image is of the time of hurt and loneliness. The sharp shards are cutting into my hands.

“Give that part to Me. Keep the image, but give the pain to Me.”

I hand Him the broken glass, relieved to get it away from me. Taking it from me, He strides to the fireplace and tosses the glass into the fire. The flames blaze for a moment, consuming what He has fed them.

He beckons me to come to Him; I stand with Him there in from of the fire in a gentle silence. He puts Him arm around me and I find that the consuming aches is gone.

Then I see something I have not seen before. He is there with me in my pain. I am not and never was alone. His tear—He felt my pain, it meant something to Him; my pain was important to Him.

“I never knew, Papa!” I never understood it really matters to you, I did not know you really cared about my hurt so much. I never knew it mattered to you!” The image of His tear is burned in my mind. I cannot shake the testament to my hurt.

“You are forgiven,” He says, hugging me, reminding me that He is there. “I am here.”

“Papa, may I—I would like to give you something more.” I find in my hands another picture, the glass shattered. The picture is that of a woman who’s words cut through my heard, devastated me to the core. “I want to give this to You as well.”

Quietly, He takes the broken glass from me, adding it to the fire as before. We watch the flames until they subside somewhat.

Finally, He says,” There is a lot of hurt stored up in you, hurt related to my body, to your service to Me. I do not want you to continue to carry it with you. I want to take it from you, to heal you and make you whole. I do not want you to be alone in this any longer.”

I consider what He has said. Although I want what He describes, it is a frightening proposition none the less. I look at the fire once again. “Yes, Papa, I do want to give all of those shattered feelings to You.” I finally reply.

His arm tightens around me briefly. Then He walks me over to a large box full of framed pictures placed near the windows. I sit beside the box; He crouches beside me. The pictures in the box are very old. Each one a moment, a memory, a person. And in each one, the glass is cracked, some just slightly, some totally shattered.

I look at each picture, removing the glass. At first, He has me put the shards in he fire myself, but soon my hands are full of shards imbedded in my palms. Too full of the memories to speak, I wordlessly hold my hands out to Him. Tenderly, he takes my hands in Him and carefully removes the shards, tossing them in the fire. With His thumbs, He strokes the wounds until they are gone.

I continue going through the pictures of the old church, the division, the loss of relationships, people who wounded me, situations we served in. The further down I go in the box, the tinier the glass shards seem to be. It feels like there is glass everywhere, filling the box, all over the floor and my hands and arms. I separate the pictures from the glass and frames, setting the images aside and filling the box with what remains.

“Can we just put the whole box in the fire?” I ask, my hands raw and bleeding again from the viciously sharp edges of the glass. He nods, but first takes my hands to heal them once more. Then He helps me move the box beside the fire.

“We must pick up what remains, lest you continue to be injured by it all.” He gestures to the floor covered by glittering fragments. I realize that the sandals He gave me have once again enabled me to walk through what He has told me to do.

It takes a long time to clean up all the fragments, even with His help. I never knew how much I was carrying. Only with His strength am I amble to heave the heavy box into the fireplace.

The flames flare brightly as they consume the box and the glass. As the flames die down, He says, “There is more.” He shows me two more boxes, as large and full as the first.

Sighing, I cannot help but protest, “Can’t we just toss the whole thing?” I really do not want to look at what is there. I know the pain and do not want to deal with it.”

“No child,” He shakes His head patiently, “There is much that you have learned, much that I have taught you, much maturity and growth in these boxes, in these pictures. It would not be right to throw that all away. There is good amidst the pain.”

“Yes, Papa,” If He says that there is good in those boxes, then I do not want to lose it. I must do it all His way, not my own. Although tempted, I will not negotiate or try to do this my way. His way is best.

Sitting beside the closer box, I begin to sort its contents. The pictures in this box seem larger, clearer than the one n the last box. They are more recent, the glass broken into large, wickedly sharp, dagger like slivers.

He stops me before I take the first pictures out. “Do you know why I am doing this, daughter? He asks.

“No, not really. It seems like a good thing to do…” I stammer my uncertain reply.

“It is because I do not want you carrying this around anymore. I want you healed. I want you whole. I want you to be happy.”

Part 2-->

Chapter 21: The second box, pt 4

I find I am grateful to sit down again and lean against His leg, resting my head on His knee. In this moment of quiet, I star into the fire, reflecting on that has been happening. The changes are huge in some ways, so hard to see in others.

I feel His hand lightly rest on my head, occasionally stroking my hair. I am reminded of the strength of His hands. They are so very very strong, yet never has He hurt me with those hands. Nor with His words either, I realize. He has corrected, rebuked, and it was painful, but the pain was in the truth of His words, not in hurtful words. Truly, even though He could have, He has never hurt me, never even turned His face from me, though there was every reason for Him to do so.

“Share your heart with Me.” He is not demanding, but gentle in His request from me.

Funny how these words have always seemed to be a prelude to His correction. I cannot resist His invitation though, and begin to pour out my hurts over a deep wound caused by His body. I am honest and hold nothing back. It was a terrible moment when I felt abandoned and alone. I desperately needed help and support and the body did not care for its own.

“It is time to come clean with me on this…” He says with a touch of firmness in His voice.

The hurt is welling up inside me and I cannot contain it further. “Papa! I thought I had forgiven. I really believed that I had. But it still hurts! I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. Was it alright that these things happened? You took care of me, of my family, provided all that we needed. You comforted me though it all. Does that make it all right what happened? Am I wrong to be hurt?” I have not said this to anyone before, the boldness scares me a bit, but honestly compels me now.

His answer comes slowly. “No, no it is not all right. This is not the way I desire my body to function. Your hurt is real hurt over real wounds.” He looks at me for a long moment. “Let Me heal you now.”

It takes me a long time to answer. “I want to, Papa. But I am afraid. If you take this from me, I fear I will be empty within. The emptiness is worse than the hurt.” I hang my head, ashamed at my fear.

“I will not leave you empty.” He reassures, His firm grip on my shoulders reminding me that He is there.

“Then, yes, Papa, please, please heal this ache in me. I glance up and see a tear on His cheek! I am surprised and do not quite understand.

He gently draws me close to Him, embracing me. As my head is pressed to His chest, I feel His tear on my cheek.

“Take it, and place it on your heart,” He tells me. I do as He bids. “Know that I am there with you even in your hurt.”

Suddenly I realize the hurt I am feeling is really an overwhelming sense of aloneness. I have felt alone and isolated even in the midst of His body. I glance out the windows into the garden and notice for the first time that it is empty. I am alone here. In the distance I see the shadows of people beyond the fence. For the first time I can recall, I do not want to be alone anymore.

“I am ready to stop being alone now,” I whisper.

“Soon, child, soon,” He tells me.

The ache in my heart remains though. I am not sure of what to say.

“Let Me into your hurt.” He whispers gently. “Let Me share that hurt with you. You do not have to be alone in this.”

I feel my walls finally break. I cry into His chest. As I weep, I feel His arms around me. He is with me. I can feel the trace of His tear on my cheek. For the first time I feel I am no longer alone.

Chapter 22-->

Chapter 21: The second box, pt 3

As I do, I see that little girl, longing for attention, empty. She sees the attention received by the baby and believes that the only way she will receive attention again is to attach herself to that baby, mothering it. Certain that no one will give her what she needs, she will glean what she can, but will never be filled.

The image brings to tears as I see the depths of my heart revealed before me. I have struggled with the issue of attention for a very long time. I always claimed that I did not desire it, that I wanted to avoid it, but it never felt entirely true.

Now the truth stands before me. I long for, even crave attention. Even now I feel empty for its lack. Yet I cannot seek it, cannot ask for it, I must hold back lest I be refused and disappointed again.

“Papa, forgive me!” I cry, despairing. I do not know how to submit this longing to Him. Part of me wants desperately to release this all to Him. But another part is so afraid that if I do I will be left empty and unnoticed, rejected all over again.

In this moment, He covers me again, clothing me in His righteousness. “Now that you see, you need not remain uncovered.” He explains, drawing me to Himself. As He embraces me, He continues, “There is no sin in wanting attention. It is part of the normal human needs. There is no sin there to forgive.”

The revelation brings me to tears. He leads me to the chairs, sits and draws me into His lap, holding me closely. “The sin is in your belief that it is wrong and must be denied and in the vows and judgments you have made that no one would give you attention and that you were not worth of it yourself.”

Brokenheartedly, I cry, “Forgive me, Papa! I have believed those things! I repent, change my heart! Show me how to receive. Please, touch and fill this emptiness!” I see how even when it is there, I run from the attention I crave, believing somehow that is it not right for me to have it. Yet others seek me out because I know how to pay attention to them, all the while I crave that very thing for myself. I see too how He has placed me in a family of men who do attend to me constantly and I have not truly received that because of these wounds. “Forgive me for rejecting the very thing I crave, that You have given to me!”

He places His hand gently on my heart and I feel something being cut, ties from disappointment to rejection. “As you begin to receive the attention you need, the habits connecting these will break down as well.” He explains.

“Thank you, Papa,” My heart aches right now, but in a new way. The pain is real, but it seems to be a growing, healing kind of pain, not the stabbing cutting ache that destroys from within.

“Get me the oil I gave you.” He directs, helping me to rise.

My footfalls make little sound as I go to the cabinet to fetch the flask. I pause for a moment, reminding myself of the new expectations that are represented there. Quickly, though, I return with the flask. It does not seem a large bottle, but He pours it liberally into His hands, rubbing it lightly between them.

He takes my face carefully in His hands, rubbing the fragrant oil into my face and hair. I breathe in the perfume deeply. The delicate scent is that of morning, sunrise with blooming flowers-orange blossoms I think- in the distance. This oil is light, not weighty like the other. Continuing His ministrations, He rubs in into my neck, shoulders, and finally into my heart. A lightness begins to seep in, penetrating the weight I have been carrying, easing the burden so it is not so hard to bear.

“My yoke is easy and my burden light, child. I know what you need and have never desired you to be without that. Your sin has caused you to believe a lie, that I would starve my children of what they truly needed as a requirement of righteousness.”

Again, I see how much I have misunderstood Him and repent. ”Forgive Me, Papa for not trusting your goodness, for believing the lies about You.”

Taking my face in His hands again, He kisses the top of my head. “You are forgiven, child.” He presses His cheek to my head now, holding me in tender embrace.
Inwardly, I struggle to stay here.

“Do not pull away from Me,” He whispers gently, His embrace still firm and secure. Your flesh is trying to go back into old habits and responses to pain. Fight it, fight to stay here with Me.”

As always, He knows my heart, He is right. It is my flesh struggling with the new revelations, trying to fight the changes happening around it. The call of these old ways is strong and my heart struggles not to go down those paths. Familiar thoughts threaten to creep in, feelings beckon to me.

“Focus on Me,” He instructs, “Put your mind, your eyes on Me.” He still holds my face firmly in His hands, His head resting on mine. Without thinking I reach up and take hold of His wrists—His hands are so large and strong and yet so gentle! I am holding on to Him, not to pull away, but for strength. We stand like this for a very long time, me struggling to focus on Him and not the old ways, Him giving me strength to fight to remain here with Him.

Finally, finally, I feel the pull of the old things weaken, temptations to run and hide from Him lose their appeal. “It is working, Papa.” I whisper, not willing yet to move my hands from His.

“Yes, it is. But do not yet lose your focus.” He replies softly. So we remain still longer.

Finally, He kisses the top of my head again. “Well done, child. Because you have stayed and obeyed, no wedge has come between us.

“The repentance moment is easy. The rebuilding, tearing down the old structures and creating new is the more difficult part.” His voice is tender as He holds me and we walk back to the chairs.

part 4-->

Chapter 21: The second box, pt 2

“Disappointment and rejection are deeply intertwined for you. They need to be disconnected.” He explains. “It will require some correction.” There is no anger in His voice, but rather a tenderness that belies the difficulty of His corrections.

“What ever it takes, Papa, please, I am ready for whatever it takes.” I whisper swallowing hard against the anticipation.

He nods, thoughtfully. Quietly, he shows me a picture of a little girl, disappointed by the lack of attention from parents exhausted by a new baby. Already feeling threatened, rejected, this feeds her sense of being unwanted and alone.

“First you must forgive them.” He instructs.

I obey, releasing them from all that I have perceived.

“Look again, there is more.” He encourages me.

part 3-->

Chapter 21: The second box, pt 1

Soon we are in my chambers again, sitting by the fireplace, glowing warmly, with the second box in my lap. I open it to search for the next object. Inside the box I find a large book. It is leather bound, with gold print that I cannot read. Perhaps a journal? I open it—it is a hand written cook book! A cook book? I have to laugh. After the recent events, it seems a strange object to find.

As I examine it more closely, I see that the handwriting is my own! The recipes are familiar, many that I have developed myself! The book is almost full-only two or three blank pages remain. “Papa, please help e understand this,” I ask Him, truly uncertain of what to make of it all.

He takes the book from me, flipping through it a moment, smiling. “This belongs downstairs, come, I will explain there.” He leads me back down the stairs towards the kitchen. We stop though, at the large shelf placed in front of the sealed basement door. Smiling, he carefully places the book on the self.

“This cookbook is what you will use to feed the guests who come here to dine.” He explains. “It is filled with what you have learned, experienced and worked on. From this you will pour out to my people.”

As He says this, it seems I can only see the rows of empty shelves and the one tiny book from which to draw. I am so unprepared! “Papa, please, will you fill these shelves for me/” I stammer, feeling so inadequate.

“With what?” He asks.

“Fill it with what will draw people to You!” Fill it with those thins which will cause them to think of the creator not the cook! The one who made the apple, not the one who cut it up. Let all eyes be on you and not me!”

I feel His smile, He is please, I can feel it so clearly. He nods, “Yes, I will do this and above and beyond what you have asked. I am pleased.” He holds me close for a moment. “Come, let us go to the study—there is more on your heart to share with Me.”

Together we walk down the hallway, through the foyer to the study. Still, it is my favorites place, I think. I love to listen, to hear His voice, just to sit beside Him and be in His presence. We sit beside the fire, He in the chair, I on the floor beside him. There are things weighing on my heart, heaviness from the day upon me.

“Share your heart with Me.” He invites warmly, making me feel safe and welcome.

“I’m not sure where to start.” I begin, but soon the words are tumbling forth unrestrained. It is easy to talk with Him. He listens to me, so closely, so attentively, I don’t know when I have been so truly heard.

Chapter 20: Submission, pt 4

Taking my arm now, He leads me to long way back through the castle. The freshness of the morning and the sparkle of the early morning dew makes the garden glimmer like a fairy tale—a very different place than it was just a month ago. I am shaken from my reverie as I realize He is leading me to the study. My heart leaps! I so love that place with Him.

Walking in, I do not know what to expect. My hands are full and I do not know what to do with the objects I carry.

“Place them in the cabinet by the windows.” He instructs, gesturing toward the elegant curio cabinet.

The large cabinet stands elegantly between the two bright windows. Glass on three sides and mirrored behind, it holds the faceted bottle of oil, placed there not so very long ago. I find myself smiling at the remembrance of it. He helps me to open the curved glass door. Carefully I place each object, save the ring which I wear, on the empty glass shelves of the cabinet.

“Here they will be before you, reminding you constantly.” He explains.

As He speaks I look at the shelves and see that they are far from being full. There is so much more they are able to contain. I am encouraged.

“Come sit by Me.” He directs, seating Himself in a chair by the fireplace.

Contentedly I sink into the deep wool of the dark sheepskin rug at His feet. I want to rest my head on His knee, but find I still cannot. Instead I sit very close, not quite touching Him, staring with Him into the fire.

We sit quietly for a while, peaceful in the silence. Finally, He places a hand on my shoulder and draws me closer to lean on Him, inviting me to rest my head on His knee. Tears fill my eyes as I submit to His invitation. And it is now that I am resting on Him that He begins to speak and to teach me.

“Humility,” He speaks the word and pauses, letting it hang heavily in the air. “You have not understood humility. It is tied to submission, but there is more than that. It is not about beating yourself up, making yourself unworthy and unfit in your own mind so that you put others first because you see no value in yourself. It is about seeing and knowing the value I place in you and in the light of that choosing to honor another more highly than yourself. The first is truly a work of the flesh, the other of the spirit. To balance both the knowledge and the honor is truly the work of the Spirit.”

He has answered a question which had, until now, remained unasked. I know there was a taste of this understanding in the first place of rebuke with Him, but it was not complete then. Now I see that only in submission to all of His word can true humility ever be found. And it is even more complicated that I knew before.

He lets me chew on this a while before He continues. “Stand up.” He gently instructs. I obey. “Look in the mirror.” He gestures to a large mirror over the fireplace mantle. “Tell me what you see.”

I look up into the mirror as He directs but it is a long time before I can speak. The picture I see is almost too full for words.

I see a bride, as I had see before. I cannot yet see her as myself, that is still a leap too far. She is beautiful though, dressed head to toe in stunning white, with rare jewels to match. Suddenly though, I see something more. I see a bride who has nothing to offer her groom, no name, no family, no dowry. But the groom loved this bride so dearly, so deeply He would not be deterred. He went to His Father and explained the problem. Out of love for the Son, the Father Himself dressed the bride in her bridal clothes. He provided for her a dowry of gold coins and gems so that she would not come to her groom empty handed. He placed a ring on her finger and adopted her into His own family, giving her His name, for the sake of His name. The Father provided all this so that all would see the glory of the bridge groom in the splendor of His bride. All for the bride who had nothing, all because of love.

The picture leaves me speechless. I understand even more clearly now what He has done and the overwhelming depth of love He has for me. Still without words to say, I glance at Him. In His hand there is a flask, of oil, I think.

“Let me anoint you,” He says. I nod, wondering what this is. The oil is heavy, with a rich heavy fragrance. He pours it over my head and it drips down to cover me. Setting the flask aside, He takes my face in His hands, rubbing the oil in gently with His thumbs, over my ears and into my hair, my neck and shoulders. He pauses, “Open your robes that I may rub this into your scars, so they will not hinder you.”

Without a second thought, I obey. Soon He works the fragrant oil into the newly formed scars across my belly and over my back and shoulders, ending with my feet and hands. I am overwhelmed and overcome with His goodness. His kindness is too much for words to express. I fall to my knees at His feet, crying and wishing I had something to offer Him at this moment, to be at His feet, empty-handed again just seems wrong.

“But you have not been empty handed.” He interjects, “Your offerings have been dear to Me.”

“What have I given You?” I ask, perplexed.

From within His robes, He removes a package of white velvet and opens it to reveal a polished key. “You have given me the key to this place,” He reminds me, carefully returning it to His robes, “ and it is dear to Me. I am pleased.”

His words ease my distress. Finally, He helps me to my feet. I refasten my own robes.

“Let’s return upstairs to finish unpacking,” He tells me. I take His arm and He leads me upstairs. On the way, it seems the halls and the foyer have become less dusty and more bright.
Chapter 21

Chapter 20: Submission, pt 3

When I wake, I turn to look for Him, not knowing what to expect. He is there beside me. The relief is so profound it is almost physical. He is there! He looks at me as if knowing my heart is filled with more questions than answers. He nods, offering to answer my need to know.

“What has happened—I do not think I fully understand, Papa.” I breath, just so glad to be at His side again. “Help me please. I just want to get this right, to please you, Papa.” I find I am staring at the ground now unable or unwilling really to lift my head and face Him.

Gently, He pats my hand, as if to acknowledge the difficulty and pain I currently feel. “Those two expectations would have destroyed everything you have fought for, everything you have attained. They would slowly eat you alive and would have succeeded had you not chosen to obey.” He explains.

I never knew the seriousness of it all, nor would I have believed it.

“To you, submission always has looked like losing everything, like someone trying to control you. So you have fled from it. Instead you created a flesh-based work that looked like submission. You learned the rules, expectations of each situation, anticipated and acted on them, making it appear that you were submitting when in truth you were calling the shots, choosing what you would do and manipulating what you would not. From the outside it looked good, but it was in truth all about your flesh.”

I feel the last bits of my old sense of self crumbling and falling through my fingers. His words hold nothing but truth, there is no denying any of it. “I repent Papa! You’re right, it’s true. I’m so sorry! I have always taken control never actually surrendered it.” I cry to Him. “Please show me how to do this your way. I don’t know how to do this, Papa! Help me!” I am devastated, my heart overpowered by an ache I’ve only felt in the darkness of the abyss. I feel the old patterns calling to me. I fight them off, though not well, wanting only to please Him.

Without words, He hands me the pearl that I had left upstairs on the table. “This is a pearl of great price.” He quietly explains, the anger gone from His voice now. Hearing this, I sigh with relief.

I take the pearl from Him, holding it in my palm and looking at it in the fresh morning light. How strange something like this could be built out of a wounding, a flaw and yet become so precious. For this first time, I see the pearl as the only gem that does not need cutting, polishing and finishing by man.

“This is how you must see yourself now. Though imperfect at the core, you are wrapped in layers of grace, provided you by nothing of your own. It is those layers of grace that give you value. Not anything you have done or anything you can lose. Nothing you can do will change your value. Your value is found in what I have created.”

Finally I begin to see! My value is tied in being His creation, who I am created by not what I am. Because I have been fashioned by His hands I have worth apart from everything else. Nothing no one can change that or take it from me. His work is always rare, precious and perfectly suite to His will.

“I will submit, Papa! I will obey You in this.” I whisper, unable to find anything to say, tears trickling down my cheeks.

“There is more,” He continues. He gives me a polished gold key. “You gave me the keys to your heart.” He reminds me. “For your last expectation, in return I give you the key to your dreams, your destiny.” He presses it into my hands with the pearl.

I am overcome, having no words to say at all. The only thing I can think, and it embarrasses me deeply, is that I do not now what my dreams are any more. I feel like I have let them all die. Suddenly I feel so lost I cannot help but cry. He pulls me into His arms and just lets me cry for a bit. Quietly He shows me the dreams that He has already brought to pass. Dreams of home and family, education and career, things that I was not really aware of any more.

“The dreams are there,” He whispers. “There is a person you struggle with; one who has caused you to believe theirs is the only destiny. But this one is not the only one with a destiny. I have a plan and destiny for you and it is not a secondary one. You are not a second choice, a left over or a make-due-with reject. I have a destiny for you of service to Me, to my people. Your hurts and expectations have made it difficult to dream and to see what I have for you, even to see that you are part of the promise of destiny, but I will show you. Open your heart to see and to dream. And those dreams will not be taken from you and given to another. They are for you and you are made for them.” His voice is soft in my ear, gentle on my aching soul.

I feel the tears flowing again in response to His words. No words seem complete right now. Finally, though the tears cease. He helps me to my feet, saying, “Gather your new expectations, it is time to go inside.”

We walk to the stone that has been the platform for all my expectations, old and new. With a slow deliberateness I begin to gather what He has given me. The feather, the tea-rose, the coins on the chain, the garnet together with the ring on my finger and the final two, the pearl and key. How very different from the bud vase of dead roses that we came with are the objects now in my hands. I realize that I still do not know the full extent of the changes within and it will be some time before I can understand it all.

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Chapter 20: Submission, pt 2

The fire there is lit and fills the chambers with a warm glow that drives back the evening shadows. He sits down in one of the chairs by the first. Although I still feel distant from Him because of what I have walking through during the day, I sit on the floor beside Him. I feel raw and wounded with a gnawing emptiness that stands in stark contrast to the warm richness of the room. I still have the two faded roses in my hand. I lay them aside, hoping that if I release them some of the emptiness will fade, but it does not.

Tenderly He reaches out to stroke my hair. “Your wounds have not fully healed, let Me tend them.”

“Yes, Papa,” I am confused. This is not what I had expected. Still, though, I am happy to obey His instruction, opening my robes to reveal the still healing wounds across my belly. I can see one of them is infected.

“Let me cleanse this.” He says, drawing me close. I nod and He begins. As He does, I see my mother and how, in my mind submission to her father cost her her dreams and her failure to submit again cost her everything else. Suddenly I realize that I am terrified if I submit it will cost me my dreams! I am terrified of hearing ‘NO’ because I am afraid of not having a chance at those dreams. But I do not even know what my dreams are at this point! I think my dreams—whatever they might be—are His already. I am so confused! “What are you asking me to submit to?” I finally whisper afraid that if I say it too loudly it will sound like rebellion.

He finishes His ministrations to my wounds and releases me. “Pick up the first of the two roses.”

As I do, a large pearl, one of great beauty, rolls out of the faded and crumbling petals into my hand.

“What is the pearl?” He asks.

“The product of an oyster’s irritation.” I answer, suddenly seeing what He means. It is my perception of myself, my hatred for myself, that is what He wants me to submit! Why is this so hard? I do not understand, by comparison everything else has been so easy.

“Burn the last two roses.” He directs without further explanation.

Slowly I place them in the fire and watch for a long time as they burn. They do not seem to catch flame, but rather they begin to glow and are consumed in that brilliance. I feel empty, unclean, reminded of my running away from Him. There is none of the hope or expectation of the past times. I know that the process is not complete, but I miss the optimism I felt before.

“What now, Papa?” I cannot take my eyes from the fire. “I feel so unclean.”

“There is still repentance to be done.” He explains, pausing for a moment now. He turns to look at me very somberly. “You are waiting for Me to push you, but you know the sin. You must come to Me. It is only when your sin is unknown that I will come and take you to the place of correction.”

His words hang heavily in the air between us. It is my choice now and I must find the strength to make it. Hanging my head, the words come pouring out, “I’m sorry Papa! I am sorry for not trusting you here. Forgive me for running and for where I have gone.” My throat is tight as I speak, tears overflowing.

“You are forgiven. Come down to the grove and wash,” He extends His hand to me.

Gratefully I take it and He leads me to the pool. I wash in the peacefully stillness of the moonlight for a long time. The velvet of the early night seems to wrap itself around me, comforting even as many stains are carried off in the water. Even still, as I leave the water to rejoin Him, there is still a wall between us.

“What is this wall? What will it take to get rid of it?” I ask in rising desperation.
“It will remain until you repent and obey.” He firmly explains. His tone makes it clear that there is no negotiation, no other alternative.

My guts freeze. This distance will remain until I submit! Briefly, but only briefly I weight the alternatives. The distance is infinitely worse than anything else I can think of, even submission.

“Papa, I repent, I repent! I will submit! I will-anything not to have this distance between us! I can’t bear it, being apart from you like this! Please, don’t turn away from me! Don’t turn away, please! I will submit! Please show me how!”

In the midst of my choking sobs, I do not realize that He has guided me back to the tree. Kind, even in His sternness, He helps me to brace myself against that familiar branch, to ready myself for His rebuke.

“You have been in rebellion to Me.” He begins, His voice angry and firm.

How I hate His anger! The words cut my like a knife. I had never seen my ‘pet’ sin as rebellion. After all, it was only myself that I was cutting down. Why would that be such a problem? But I have known deep within, for a long time now, that He had not approved and I have hung on to it still. Rebellion. The word still tears at me. I never knew, never thought I was ever in rebellion, especially to Him.

“You have insisted on your own will over mine.” He continues, his anger not abated.

I am broken as I see the picture now. I have failed to obey His command and to believe what He has said. The fact that that command regarded who and what I am doesn’t matter. Obedience is still required.

“You have called me a liar.” An even deeper anger becomes apparent in these words.

But it is the truth of the words that cuts through me like a knife. He is right and there is no defense. I cannot stop my tears. He is not finished with His rebuke even though I want to hear no more.

“By continually believing yourself ill-made, defective, by crucifying and tearing yourself down, tearing down what I have purposefully created as a vessel for My Spirit, you have profaned what is holy and sacred and made by My hands.”

I never saw this before! After all, it was just me, so it did not matter, but I see how very wrong I have been. I have called Him a liar and denied His words. Finally I feel the rebellion in me being crushed.

“In choosing what of My word to believe and what to deny you have been arrogant and prideful. I am not pleased.” His words rip at my heart, but yet He does not stop. “Your disobedience undermines your faith, your faith will grow no further because you deny Me in this. You will not see my purposes like this.”

All my resistance is finally broken. What He requires is so difficult, but the cost of disobedience is too high. In heaving sobs, I cry out in repentance for all that He has shown me, the pride, the rebellion, the faithlessness. My tears flow from the deepest parts of my heart as the wall between us finally breaks down. “I will obey you, Papa, I will submit, I will. I can’t stand the distance between us. I will do whatever You ask!” I fall at His feet; there are no words left for me to speak.

I don’t know exactly when, but He quietly sits down beside me, His hand gently on my shoulder. I want to reach out to Him, but my pain and grief overwhelm me and I cannot. Finally, curled at His feet, I sleep. But it is a fitful sleep; I dream of a car spinning out of control that eventually comes to a stop. I feel like I am that car.
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Chapter 20: Submission, pt 1

He hands me the next to last rose. It is an odd flower, thorny and defensive. Neither fully closed nor open, it seems almost ambivalent and angry. I look to Him for understanding.

“This is your expectation that you will be replaced, that you are not good enough and only holding place for someone better.”

The words cut surprisingly deep and a new level of fear rises in me. None of the other issues have ever touched me this deeply. Unlike the other expectation, this one I do not desire to change.

Still, almost as though He does not know my thoughts, He continues,” You believe that I am only allowing you to be used until something better comes. But in all of this you see yourself as defective, as a poor design, flawed. You refuse to see My perfection in you.” He hands me the last rose now, “And you do not believe that you must actually submit and change all this.”

His last words strike like ice and I feel my insides turn cold. The terror and panic I feel overpowers me in a way nothing else has. It seizes me and I run from Him. I try to find what will keep me away from Him and immerse myself in it. For three days I run from Him, neither eating nor sleeping, just running and trying to hide, to find some way around what He requires.

The relief is only momentary and I feel lost without His presence. I am exhausted and drained, and there is no refreshing to be found. I realize, finally, I have no choice. Half reluctantly and half in hope, I return back to the garden grove, just hoping that He will be there.

“Papa?” I call out, looking earnestly for Him. “Papa, are you there?”

“Yes, child, I am.” He replies, His voice surprisingly without anger.

Relief washes over me. He has not left! “Papa, I’m sorry for running! Forgive me! Please!” I cry, as He meets me.

Patiently, gently, He shows me the dynamics of the moment. These last two expectations are the deepest, most profound and are demanding the greatest degree of change yet. My flesh panicked and sought out counterfeits for what He was calling me to, immersing itself in them. But He called to me, and my spirit heard, bringing me back to this place to find Him once again.

“If what I have done before is not submission, then what I is it?” I thought I understood, but find that I do not.

As He did once before, He gives me the answer in my husband’s arms. He gives me a picture in my husband’s love for me and my trust and surrender to him as an example of what my Papa is asking for from me.

This is so different what is portrayed in the flesh, not domineering, inflicting rules and pain, but sacrificing and looking our for, seeking only good for me. “This is so different Papa.” I whisper. “How Papa? And why is this so hard for me? What is holding me back?”

“Let us return upstairs and I will show you.” He replies gently taking me by the hand and guiding me up the back stairs to my rooms.
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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chapter 19: Expecting honesty and approval, pt 5

“Come walk with Me now.” Leaving the bonds where they lay, He guides me to the edge of the mote surrounding the castle. We sit at the edge, admiring the koi. “I want you to see something.” He point into the distance. On a far hil I see a city with four clear spires. It is the city He pointed out to me before. “We will be going there soon.” He tells me, “All this renovation has had a purpose. You will rescue my people from that place and bring them here to be restored.”

I do not know what to say, only “Yes, Papa,” seems right. He tells me no more of it and I sense questions are not right for now. We sit there quietly for a long time.
Finally He turns to me and asks,” Do you know that I love you?”

I ponder the question for a moment, then I know-not the answer of my habit, but out of faith and expectation. “Yes, papa, I do!”

His sudden smile is like the sun breaking through clouds, lighting everything around in His joy. I am surprised when He reaches into the water to playfully splash me and more surprised to find myself in the water a moment later! He is laughing and I cannot help by laugh as well. In a moment He joins me among the fish and we splash and play there. The water is so clear and I find it is deep as well. My foot slips and I fall under only to discover much greater depth to this water full of life than I had ever known. The joy of the moment is beyond description as we just play there a while.

Finally He signals me to follow as He swims up to the pool which feed this place from the waterfall. Once at the pool, we just float, resting for a few moments in that refreshing place. After a short time, we leave the water to sit on the bank.

He does not speak immediately, but waits a few moments before He begins, “You know I love you, but do you know that I like you?”

I look at Him puzzled.

“I choose to call you my friend,” He explains.

I have no words to express what I feel. I take His hand and press it to my cheek-how I love His hands! I am surprised when He takes my hand and presses it to His face as well. It still overwhelms me that He would love me so much and want me to be with Him.

After a few moments, we rise, returning back to the dwindling pile of flowers. I lay down the tea rose and look at all the old and new expectations lying before me.
“Review your new expectations,” He directs.

I touch the feather, rejection replaced by acceptance’ the coins, disappointment replaced by abundance; the garnet drop, pain replaced by love; the tea rose, perfection replaced by honesty. I pause at the ring, condemnation replaced by—as I suddenly see!—more than approval, this is sonship! Not jut approved, but adopted!

I sit back on my heels, stunned! To be placed as a mature son, set to represent the Father and do His business! I cannot understand. “These changes…” I stammer trying to ask.

“They are real,” He assures, taking me back to read the journal of the first few days. On reading, I am struck by my cry of revelation: It is my sin and mine alone—more of a confession that revelation.

“That moment of repentance has been key in all that has followed.” He explains. “When you saw all of it was in your own heart, then we could change your heart. Well done my son.”

Over and over the words echo in my ears, with the chimes of grace: Well done, well done. My heart is full. I am ready to face what remains.
Chapter 20-->

Chapter 19: Expecting honesty and approval, pt 4

“Come now.” Taking my arm once again, He leads me back to the large flat stone holding the remaining roses. There are still four dead flowers remaining.

“Let’s continue,” His voice is calm, almost somber as He hands me one of the remaining flowers.

It is so very heavy! The stem is straight with long straight sharp thorns. The blossom is dark and shriveled, like something has sucked the life from it. It is hard to hold, the weight threatens to pull it from my hand.

“This is your expectation of condemnation.” He says without further explanation.
Now I understand the weight of it. I have carried it around for years, always expecting it and dishing it out myself when it was not forthcoming. The weight is so familiar and in that familiarity, comforting.

I find I still have the tea rose in my other hand. As the weight becomes too much, I hold them together in both hands. I had always expected that these two thing would go together, honesty bringing condemnation. The shriveled rose begins to twine around the fresh one, almost as though to choke and strangle it. I am horrified at the sight, but unable to move, I do not know what to do.

“Do not let them become entwined!.” He instructs sternly. “No not allow the old expectation to destroy the honesty!”

I try to pry them apart, surprised at the force it takes to separate them. Keeping them apart is difficult, almost as if the shriveled flower is struggling to reach the other. The old expectation grows heavier and heavier, I can not hold on to both any longer. Either I drop the new and fight to hold on to the old with both hands, or I release the old. I know what I must do, but it is a struggle to release it none the less.

Finally, the shriveled rose falls from my hand. As it hits the ground, something strange happens. The rose becomes a snake, the long straight thorns become sharp fangs. The true nature of the expectation becomes obvious now! Sharp pains in my feet, legs, arms and hands tell me I bear the scared from many bits from this beast.

I stand dumbstruck, staring at it, know I should kill the snake. I hesitate though. I have always trusted this beast, condemnation, to lead me back to Him when I had gone astray, how can I kill it?

“Has it ever lead you to Me!” He asks calmly.

I think on it for a moment. Not it never has. The pain, its venom has always lead me to the place for darkness, not to Your arms. Though I trusted it, it never lead me where I thought it would.

“Look,” He points to the snake. It is coiling and ready to strike. The fangs gleam ready to drive into my flesh. Without thinking I take my sword and cut off its head, crying out, “There is now therefore no condemnation for those where are in Christ Jesus.”

That quickly, it is dead. I watch it writhe in its death throes. He puts His hand on my shoulder. “You have trusted a counterfeit. Conviction, My voice, will lead you to Me, not this.” He pauses for a long moment. “It is time for you to expect approval. Lift the rose in your hand, small it.”

I obey; although the flower itself is imperfect, the fragrance is pure and sweet. I drink it in deeply.

“There is much to approve of in this honesty. You have been manipulated by condemnation and disapproval for a long time. You are very sensitive to it.” I nod, feeling the ache it has left within me. “You do not know how to receive approval.”

This truth resonates through me. I have always provided my own condemnation if no one else did. I have not allowed approval to rest on me. The aching emptiness of this revelation engulf me in a cold pain and dread. “You must correct this?” I venture, knowing and yet dreading the answer.

In this moment, I deeply fear yet another rebuke. I look away, unable to bear the though of having displeased Him again. I am sure He must be angry with me again.

“Yes,” he replies, but His voice is gently, not angry. I look up surprised. “But not in the way that you think.” He engulfs me in His embrace, an embrace of joy and pleasure. “Well done my good and faithful child—well done.”

I cannot believe what I have heard. Even in His arms I carry out, “How? How? All I have made are mistakes! So many mistakes! How can his be well done?”

“You have done it all for Me, given your widows’ mite. You have never let your talent lie fallow. You have always put it to work wherever you saw something to be done. You have not withheld it. Well done. Now enter into your father’s good pleasure.” He releases me just enough to press something into my hand. I cannot see it clearly at first. But then I see it is a family signet ring—the father’s ring given to the placed sons! “Wear this!” He instructs.

I slip it on my right hand and look closely at it. It is mean to be a seal and the imprint it leaves is “Jehovah Jesus”. My mind races to comprehend what my heart tries to embrace. This is the ring given to the huios-the mature, placed son.

“You have never believed yourself to be huios, only teknon (immature, minor child) never believed truly that there was destiny for you. I have already planned that destiny, it is yours, with a real calling. You have talked yourself out of it for far too long. Just now, finally believed that that is there for you. Under the past leadership you cam to believe that you were disqualified by birth, by gender. But you are adopted as a son in my family now. You are placed. Act on it, act like it=--it is not an ‘if’ but an ‘is’”

His words strike a deep chord in me. “Oh, Papa, I repent of these things I have held on to, have believed in opposition to Your Word! Forgive me for believing the lies that disqualified me, kept me away from your promises. Forgive me for I believed myself inferior and rejected because I am a woman! Forgive me!” I suddenly realize my hands are tightly bound! Perplexed and afraid I lift my hands to Him. I see a flash of light—His sword! And I heard the words “There is no longer male nor female…” The bonds drop to the ground. Looking closely I see they are made of snake skin.

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Chapter 19: Expecting honesty and approval, pt 3

I still sting from His rebuke, now this that seems to stand against everything my Papa has been telling me. Unrestrained now, I honestly share my pain and difficulties with Him and am surprised by His reply.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light. This is not the way I desire it to be. I do not want you so grieved in my work.”

His words hang heavily in the air for a long time. I had thought that the person I had been hurt by could do whatever he pleased because of his position, his anointing, that he and his feelings were infinitely more important than me. ”And the last are first.” He reminds me. “I do not ignore the cries of any of my children. I have used this to help you grow, but your pain is not my perfect design. In this season, focus your eyes on Me and do not watch was is going on around you. I will carry you through to the other side.”

“How, I do not understand.” I shake my head, whispering.

“Come, climb with me.” We are at the tree and He beckons me to climb high into its branches with Him. Anxiously, I climb behind Him, carefully watching where He goes that I might go there myself. I dislike high places and am afraid to see the place, high in the branches, He has chosen to rest. “Come, sit close and lean into Me.” He directs.

Carefully, I edge toward towards Him, finally stopping just beside Him, my back to His chest as we straddle the high branch.

“Lean into Me and close your eyes.”

I obey and fall into the power of His around me, of His chest and shoulders behind me. The incredible strength of Him calms me; as I close my eyes, the fear subsides.

“Focus on My voice now. Are you still afraid?”

“No,” I whisper, not wanting to disrupt the newfound calm that covers me.

“Why not?”

I pause to think for a moment. “Because I can hear your voice, feel your strength. I know you will not let me fall even as you cannot fall yourself.” I feel completely safe in His arms.

“Now open your eyes.” He directs.

We are on the ground once again and I did not even know what He was doing. Al I knew was the safety of His arms.

“This is what I want you to do. Close your eyes, lean on me, and listen to my voice alone. Trust Me, you need trust, nothing, no one else.”

“Yes, Papa.” What else can I say? Now I better understand what He wants me to do.

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Chapter 19: Expecting honesty and approval, pt 2

In the distance somewhere, I hear the chimed of His grace, but the grief and pain within myself drowns it out. I am reminded of the comfortless comfort of the abyss and part of me tries to seek it.

“Cling to Me, child.” It is His voice, firm, but no longer angry. He knows what is happening in me, He knew that I could handle no more than this. And this is why He insisted on waiting for this.

My heart longs to cling to Him, but has not the strength, the grief and the old ways are so powerful. I struggle to obey though, managing to uncurl myself enough to look up at Him. It is enough! He meets me there, enfolding me in His arms, holding me as I weep.

“I’m sorry Papa! I’m sorry. I will obey, I will do as you say.” I murmur over and over, crying into His strong shoulders. Finally the tears subside.

“You are forgiven daughter.” He reminds me, love filling His voice. I long to receive it, but cannot. I feel so stained and unclean. “Go wash, see the stains of disobedience washed away.”

He walks into the water with me. As I stand under the waterfall, my hood slips back past my ears. I hear the call of the abyss reach out to me. It resonates with my grief, drawing me there. But in the rush of the water I hear the chimes of grace as well. I try to focus on those and the effort transfixes me. I do not know how long I am there, but it feels sudden when He gently moves the hood back into place, covering my ears and shutting out the call of the abyss. I feel like I have been snapped back into reality suddenly. I am weak, disoriented as He leads me from the water. We begin to walk.

Past the tree now, where the perfect rose, now crushed, lays covered in dirt. Tears trickle down my cheeks. I turn my face away know otherwise I will search for that artifact in the dust. My heart is wrenched as I do but somehow I think I have pleased Him. After we pass the tree, He stops and tenderly kisses my forehead, drying my tears with His thumbs as He gently takes my face in His hands.

“I do not know how to do this Papa. I will obey You, but I don’t know how. Please, help me.” I whisper through more tears.

“I will.” He promises. Then for a moment, He puts me in the loving arms of my husband to share with him something I never have, to allow him to touch a place I have allowed no one to go before, to acknowledge something I have always hidden before. And there is a joyous release in the doing. There was fear for me and some pain for him, but for both of us there was joy and anticipation in the new freedom.

“Papa!” I cry, “Nothing else would have shown me this! No other way would be so clear. I never, never before would have allowed that boundary to be crossed. You did leave some of it private to me , but the rest you showed me how to share.” I am overwhelmed by it all.

“Let your heart lead you in this.” He explains, leading me out into the sunny part of the garden again. “This was something you deeply desired to share. I will give you the desire to share and be transparent and honest when the time is right. Listen carefully and obey, do not reveal all things to everyone, that is not what I ask of you.”

He stops us at the stone bench near the gate. On the right of the bench there is a small rose bush growing. He stoops to pluck a flower and hands it to me. The small tea rose is deeply and wonderfully fragrant. The white petals are tipped with pink. A few have small bug-nibbles taken out of them. Another’s dry brown edge curls down daintily. The stem has a few tiny delicate thorns clinging to its side. The blossom is lovely and fragrant, but not perfect.

“This is to be your new expectation—a fragrant honesty.”

I continue to stare at the tea rose. This is by far the hardest new expectation for me to expect. This kind of honesty is something new to me, I find it difficult to accept the idea that not only are flaws acceptable, but that it is safe for them to be visible to others.

As we walk back to the grove, I share the distractions and trouble of my heart with Him, the pain I have in His service and confusion that threatens to overtake and overwhelm me. I do not know where I belong or how his promises will come to pass. I find my hands filled with icons of my confusion now, a key and an ID badge. I have worn them around my neck as symbols of my status and leadership.

“ I know I have chased after these, believed them to be the way to serve You.” I explain handing them to Him. “I see now they are not what I thought hem to be and I give them up to You.”

He takes them from me and nods. “You heart has been truly changed for you to give these to Me without being asked for them. I know what this has meant to you. This is a fragrant offering to Me.” The key and badge disappear into smoke in His hand and He inhales the fragrance deeply, smiling. “Although you do not feel it now, I do not take this offering lightly. It is a sacrifice to you and I know it. You have given Me the freedom to move and place you, a freedom you have always been afraid to give Me. I understand what this means to you.” He smiles on me, but my heart aches too much to receive it right now.

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Chapter 19: Expecting honesty and approval, pt 1

Finally the grieving has passed and I am strong enough to go on. We return to the roses once again.

“Pick up the next one.” He instructs.

I reach for it, but it is difficult for me to see. When it finally comes into focus, I am shocked. It is perfect! The beauty of this flower bewilders me. The petals are deep peach, delicate and porcelain perfect. The calyx finely formed and balanced, embraces the petals perfectly. The stem arcs gracefully and without thorns. I do not understand why this is among the others.

I look at Him, the questions evident in my face. “Child,” His voice is very stern, I feel a knot forming in my gut. I dread what He is about to say. “This will require rebuke to change.”

Dread fills me. His rebuke is painful and unrelenting. There is no negotiating with it. His way is the only way in that place. I can walk away from it, I know, but that would mean turning my back on Him. And that is an even more dreadful thing that His rebuke. Still I feel a tremor building within me.

“How have I disobeyed you, Papa?” My question is not challenge, but a voice to my confusion.

He knows and does not hesitate to answer me. “This rose is your expectation that you must be perfect and with it your refusal to be honest and transparent, even with Me.” The sternness has not left His voice, although I know it is not my question that has brought His anger.

It is now so very clear to me. It is entirely true. I have maintained an outward look of perfecting, having it all together. Truly I have not tried to create anything fake, but in carefully avoiding revealing too much of myself, my heart, I have created a shell that is not real, not approachable and worse still, not obedient.

Gentle, even now, He takes my arm to lead me to the place of correction. I’d like to drag my feet, but cannot, my heart is so heavy knowing He is displeased in me, I do not want to displease Him further.

As we approach the tree, I find I am on the verge of tears even not, not in anticipation, but in grief that I have disobeyed the one I long most to please. With a firm tenderness, He places my hands against the branch, knowing I will need its strength as my own fails.

He pauses a moment only, before He begins His rebuke.” I have been displeased with you.” Although He does not raise His voice, there is not mistaking he anger in it. It cuts through me like a physical blow. “You have willfully, knowingly disobeyed Me when I have bid you to be transparent, to reveal yourself to others. You have refused and done your own will.”

I hear myself cry out in the pain and truth of His words. “Papa, change me!” I cry. “Do not stop until my heart is changed!” sobs well up from deep within.

“If you do not give up this disobedience it will cost you everything in the long run. All that you have heard Me promise will be destroyed in the wake of this sin. Once you learn to hide, it is only a matter of time before there is something to hide, and that will only grow.” His words are not a threat, but a foretelling of what is to come on this path.

The pain of this proclamation tears at my heart in ragged sobs. “I’m sorry Papa!”

“All this is rooted in pride. It will lead you to cover more and more until your heart is hardened and trusting in your own ability to hide, not in Me.” Fresh sobs pour out from my heart at this. “I am not pleased.” The anger in His voice devastates me.

What He asks—no—demands is so very, very difficult. First He demanded I reveal myself to Him, but now to others? Truly I am appalled at the thought. Of all things I do not want to do, this is chief among them. “Papa, please!” I start to plead, but then knowing He will not relent and my stubbornness will only prolong this, I stop. “Forgive me, my pride, forgive me for refusing to obey! I repent, Papa, I repent.” I cry instead. I fear disobedience more than obedience now. “Papa, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please do not turn away from me!” The deepest cry of my heart has found voice now. “Please do not turn away.!”

“Crush the rose.” He commands, but I am slow to obey, the beauty is deceptive. “Crush it.” He says again. I dare not fail again. I drop it to the ground and step on it, crushing its beauty into the dirt. The sight makes me weak again, I cannot take my eyes from it.

With His foot, He covers the remains of the rose with dirt, it is gone. Emptiness and the keen awareness of my own imperfection seize me. I curl in on myself in a fetal position to hide I think—I do not want anyone to see me now, even Him.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Chapter 18: Expectations, pt 5

He releases me from His arms, only to turn me to face Him. “It is time for you to enlarge your expectations. The old vase can no longer contain your expectation. Smash the old container, I will give you a new one.”

Regaining my feet, I step to the stone upon which the vase sits with the remaining roses. I still have the stone in my hand. Before I can think it all out, I touch the vase with the stone and the vase explodes, throwing me once again into His waiting arms.

He is there to catch me, to hold me, give me His strength. My mind is reeling from all that has happened. “How Papa?” I stammer, hoping He understands what I mean.

His firm embrace reassures me. “You must move these things now from your head to your heart. To do this, you must act on them I faith and as you see how I work in it, your heart will come to know.”

“Yes, Papa.” I whisper, pressing into His arms, not wanting to leave His grasp.

But distraction comes. Something happens to hurt my son and I am grieved. Even so, I do not want to lose what His is doing with me. “Papa, can we continue?”

“No, child. Not now. The next step cannot be taken while you are grieving. The next step will require corrections that you will not be able to accept without giving into your old ways. You would be injured, not healed. Wait until the hurt has passed, then we will continue. Stay here in my embrace while the hurt heals and the grief subsides.”

I see His wisdom and do not argue. I rest in His arms as I walk through the process of forgiveness and releasing the hurts. And through this I see too a new understanding of His loving care and concern. I am struck by His insistence on waiting on my pain, making sure that there would be no injury to me, in spite of the pain that would be necessary. I truly see that I do matter to Him, my hurts, my feelings are important to Him. Never have I understood this before. I can not think of anything else that would have shown me so clearly as this. “Thank you, Papa, thank you.” I whisper.

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Chapter 18: Expectations, pt 4

We walk back, His arm twined in mine. I am still distracted by all that He has told me, so I am grateful for His guidance back. It seems we return very quickly to the roses. I lay the coins beside the feather.

Before I have an opportunity to think, He hands me the next flower. Truly it is a hideous thing. Covered in thorns of all shapes and sizes, gnarled and bent, the flower looks more like a thistle than a rose.

“It is your expectation of pain.”

The words hang in the air between us, hovering so heavily I am forced to take a step back. Immediately, though, I see what He is telling me and I know it is true.
In just these few moments, the awful thorns of this blossom have begun to dig deeply into my hands, digging deeper as the voice of the expectation grows louder. “They do not care about you!” It screams to me. “They never will. You do not matter! No one care how you feel—you do not matter.”

The voices are so familiar to me. I want to drop it, but cannot. My hands to seem to tighten of their own volition around the deformed flower, driving the spines deeper into my hands. Although intense, the pain is a familiar one and for a moment I am taken back to the abyss. I remember times when I was trapped in that place that pain was the only thing I was able to feel. I would clutch as this flower just to be able to feel something.

“Drop the flower.” He commands, suddenly bringing me back to the grove and the garden.

I try, but cannot let it go. “I can’t, Papa, I can’t, help me! Please! Help me!” the pain and frustration I feel fills my cries as I feel trapped by the flower’s thorns.

He stands behind me, encircling me with His strong arms. As He pries my hands apart, I see the scars in His hands and see my name carved in His left palm. A new strength fills me and with His help, I finally release the deformed thing.

The wounds in my hands burn, yet He tells me, ”Strike it with your sword.”
I dare not argue or disobey. Although it hurts, I take up the sword He has given me to strike at the horrid flower.

“My name is carved on His hand! The hairs on my head are numbered! I am chosen, destined, His child! His grace has saved me! His grace! His grace!” Over and over again I strike at my target. Finally, the flower shatters under the sword and I am thrown back into His embrace

His strong arms swallow me, the strength of His chest supports me. His strength is so much more than I understand. For a moment I feel surrounded in Him, all I see is His white robe, reminding me for a moment of the abyss. But this is not that place. I am swallowed, engulfed by His love! I suddenly know as I have never known—I am loved—I do matter to Him! I am loved by Him.

“Papa, I am so sorry I have denied this, run from it for o long. I have called your love such a distant and impersonal thing. But it is not! I repent! I repent for not receiving your love, for not believing you really, honestly cared for me, personally, individually! I repent! You do! You do honestly care for me!”

He holds me deeply in His embrace as He explains, “This is to be your new expectation, love.” Into my wounded hands He presses a tear drop shaped stone half the size of my palm. Deeply red and faceted, the stone seems like a drop of blood frozen it time. But the stone is warm and the warmth penetrates my wounded hands, burning out the thorns, healing the wounds left by the thorns. The burning pain in my hands flows away and I fall once again into His powerful embrace.

Once again I am swallowed I the white fullness of His arms. For a moment I am struck at how like the abyss it is, encompassing, consuming, too powerful to resist. Yet where the only thing I could feel in the abyss was pain, the pain is strikingly absent here. Then I surrender to the awesome love that overflows in this place and release all thoughts of the abyss.

He holds me there for a long time, saturating me in His consuming love. Never before have I felt truly loved by Him. I can see so clearly the power and the difference of this new expectation.

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Chapter 18: Expectations, pt 3

He hands me another rose. Although it should have opened fully, the stunted blossom never has. “This rose is the expectation of disappointment.”

His words echo, resounding powerfully in my ears. Is it true? Do I really—yes, yes I have expected disappointment. I did expect that something would have to go wrong, that the promise would not be brought to completion, that I would never quite reach the goal. I have never seen this before, but He is so right! This hideous expectation has colored everything I have done.

“This will require correction to change.” His voice is gentle, there is no anger in His words, only love. I hear in His voice a desire to give me more, to take from me the hurts and limitations and replace them with His grace and I am overcome with such love.

“Come, share your heart with Me.” He instructs, taking my arm once again to walk with Him in the garden.

I cannot help myself, I take His hand for a moment, kissing it and whisper, “Thank you Papa, thank you for this.”

Lovingly, He presses His hand to my check. He says nothing, but He dos not have to. We begin to walk.

As we walk, the thorns from the shriveled rose of disappointment begin to tear at my hands. As they do, I hear the voice of the expectation rising in my ears: “You do not deserve more than that! Don’t complain, settle with what you have and be happy for it!” The words are familiar, I have heard them often. I shake my head softly, seeing how much of my life these words have colored. I hear the soft chimes of grace in my ears and remember what He told me, not to hide my wounds from Him. So I show Him my hands, tell Him what I have heard.

“Yes, child, these are the issues which need correction.” He confirms what I already know. His arm entwined in mine, we walk back towards the rove, to the tree, that place of correction. We have been there so many times it seems. I think it would be unbearable but for His unrelenting, unwavering love and restoration. The voices of my expectations are growing louder now, threatening to drown out the chimes.

“Come, His voice is firm, clear above all the other voices. “Let me correct your heart, your expectations.”

I nod, bracing myself against the lower branch, anticipating the need for its support. “Please, Papa, help me change.” My voice is only a whisper.

He begins. He shows me how I have allowed this expectation to steal from me the very things He had promised. I was refusing to hang on to what He wanted to give me. He was trying to give to me and I was refusing to receive from Him to fulfill this expectation!

I cry out in frustration at myself and my sin, at how my sin has denied me the ery things He’d promised and I had so longed for. It was me—my own sin that kept me from all He promised! Not Him, He never failed! It was me!

He continues and shows me even more. The root of all this has been in my lack of faith, my failure to believe that He has meant all His promises! Somehow I have been convinced that these promises really were not mean for me.

I am broken, I grieve for the truth in what He shows me. “Forgive me, Papa! Please! I repent! I repent for calling you a liar, for not believing that you meant what you said! Papa, I’m so sorry, sorry for rejecting you gifts, for refusing them and blaming you for it! Oh, Papa! I repent, I’m so, so sorry, Papa, I’m sorry.” I bury my face in my hands and cry with gut wrenching sobs.

He puts His strong hand on my shoulder. I am so aware of its weight and warmth there as He patiently wits for me to calm. “Now, take the rose and come with Me.” He takes my arm and walks us to the moat surrounding the castle.

Stopping at the waters edge, He guides me to sit down. “Take the rose, crumble it and feed it to the fish.”

The colorful koi are playfully gathering at our feet. They are so alive! I begin to crumble the brittle rose and sprinkle it into the water. Quickly the little fish consume the rose.

“The stem as well,” He admonishes.

I obey and the rose is gone. I quietly sit, empty handed, wondering what is next. He says nothing, but gestures toward the water. A large, darkly colored koi swims to me and bumps up against my foot once, then again.

“Look—“ He points toward the fish.

As I bend down toward the koi, I see something glimmer. The fish has something in its mouth! It holds still while I remove it. Lifting the object into the light I can see it is a gold coin on a short gold chain. The fish swims away, leaving me gazing in surprise at its gift.

Amazed, I cry out, “Oh, Papa! What does this mean? I don’t think I understand.”
He does not reply, but gestures again toward the water. The fish has returned! There is something in its mouth again. Reaching for it, I find another gold coin! The fish returns again and again until I have ten coins hanging from the chain in my hand!

Finally, He speaks. “This is to be your new expectation, child. Let abundance replace your expectation of disappointment.”

I am confused for a moment. Abundance is not the opposite of disappointment—it is something better! “Papa!” I have no other words.

“Shhh. Listen to Me for a moment. “His voice is suddenly firm. “No not be reluctant to expect Me to fulfill the promises I have given you according to My word. Give me your hands.”

I reach toward Him and He takes my hands in His, gently removing the thorns still embedded in my flesh. The voice of the old expectation is silenced as the thrones are removed.”

“Papa, somehow I had always though that it would be arrogant for me to expect all of that. I always though I should be able to have that.”

He looks at my hands again and removes yet another thorn. “No, there is no arrogance in believing that I will be true to My word. It is about Me, not you. I am faithful to My word because of who I am, not because of you. It is time for you to begin to expect harvest, abundant harvest from the seeds you have sown. You have sown much, but only reaped little. It is time to see the true harvest of those seeds.

“It is time to grow up in your faith now, to move from the beggars’s faith of the immature son (teknon) to the expectation based faith of the placed, mature (huios) son. How can the placed son do the work of the Father if he cannot believe in what the Father has said He would do and provide?”

“Papa, forgive me, for that has been the nature of my faith. I have begged you and put my faith in the begging, not in the nature of my Papa! I am so sorry! Forgive me Papa!”

He puts His arm around me to comfort me. “You are forgiven, child, now do not allow condemnation to take hold. Instead, grow, take this truth deep in your heart and walk in it.”

“Yes, Papa, yes, I will, I will do it.”

I stare at the chain lined with the heavy coins, overwhelmed by the magnitude of His abundance. Then times what would have been needed over and above what I could even think or ask! The reality of what He has told me begins to set it. Faith based on true expectation truly expecting to do what He promised. Not acting as though His fulfillment of His promises depends on my ability to pray hard enough, long enough with the right words and in the right way. I just need to expect Him to be who He said He is!

“Thank you, Papa! Thank you.” Words are not sufficient to express the wonder of what He has given me.

We linger a little longer by the moat, resting and enjoying the refreshing of the cool water teeming with life.

Finally though, He says, “Come, let us return to continue the process.”

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