“Let Me see your feet.” He finally says. He takes my feet in His hands, tenderly rubbing them for a moment. Gently, He ties the sandals back on my feet. “It is time for you to take some risks now. This will require correction.”
He sits there beside me, saying nothing more, as if waiting for something from me. I feel a barrier between us, not hostility, but as disconnection. It seems more and more unbearable as the moments pass.
“Papa, Please, I cannot stand this separation! Please, change me. I do not want to be apart from you!”
He smiles, taking my arm and we walk toward grove, walking through the shade garden rather than through the sun. As the grove comes into view, I realize that I am not so frightened of it as I once was.
He leads me to the tree to stand there and receive correction from Him. Willingly I obey.
He shows me a painfully familiar picture—idolatry! Again. My gut is wrenched to see that my own comfort has become an idol between us. I have worshipped my comfort and failed to pursue His promises, even as Israel failed to pursue the promised land!
Abruptly, the correction changes to rebuke! I have disobeyed Him. I have refused to lay aside my comfort, to be uncomfortable for Him. He is angry, displeased with me. His rebuke has stopped, but I can still see His anger. I hate His anger! But I know that it is only in His anger that I can truly appreciate the depth of my sin.
I stand dumbly before Him, unable to form a reply. I try to go to Him, walk with Him, but cannot reconnect. A cold distance still stands between us and I cannot bridge it.
Finally I realize what it is. “You are not finished, are You?” I hesitantly ask.
I know the only way to bridge the distance between us is to allow Him to complete His rebuke. Oh, how I truly hate His rebuke, I feel like my heart is falling within me. He is waiting for me to ask Him to finish. How many times has He said He would not force me here. Oh, but I wish He would. I do not, oh I do not want to ask Him for further rebuke. But if I do not, the distance will remain. And that is worse.
Sighing heavily, I finally cry softly, “Papa, please, I cannot stand this distance between us. Please, finish this, what ever it requires.”
Silently He nods, leading me back to the tree. This time though, He sits on the branch, saying, “Come, place yourself into My hands to receive My rebuke.”
I swallow hard. Not long ago He had asked me if I would obey such an instruction. I said yes then. Now it has become reality and I must choose.
I will obey.
I remove sword, belt and shield, those things which seem to get in the way at this moment. A deepening knot tightens in my gut as I lay them aside by the smooth trunk of the tree and walk to Him. In silence I stand before Him for a moment. He presses my cheek with His hand and kisses my forehead, reminding me of His love. I place myself into His hands.
He does not hesitate. His rebuke begins and it is hard. I do not understand the depth of my disobedience nor how much anger He has for it.
“I am displeased.” He reprimands strongly, the tone of His voice pierces my heart more than His words. “You have not listened to Me, habitually tuning out my voice, especially regarding ministry. You have refused to share your heart, particularly your weakness and sin with others. You refuse to receive ministry from Me. You have closed down your heart. And you have refused to submit.”
His words are hard and heavy, cutting through the depths of my heart. His rebuke is always right, but the truth hurts so deeply. I cry out, “Forgive me Papa, forgive me! I will obey, I will submit.” Then I am surprised to hear myself say, “I am terrified to submit!”
Abruptly He stops.
For a moment I am confused, but I remember that He has told me He would never rebuke me for my wounds. Without explanation He helps me to my feet, but I have no strength to stand. I fall to my knees crying beside Him.
“Teach me how, Papa, teach me how to do this.”
“Come rest with Me in the garden.” He takes my arm once again. We walk together, the distance between us bridges, somewhat, now. I hurt now, though, with a deep ache and a longing for a relief of the terrible emptiness that the distance from Him brings.