“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.