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.