Finally we reach the shade garden and sit beneath a tree. There is a gentle quiet as we rest there. But even in this rest I find myself becoming restless and agitated.
“Talk with Me.” He invites.
Hearing His voice, I sigh with relief. I am reluctant though, to talk, fearing further rebuke from Him.
“Tell Me your fears, little one.” He wraps His arm around me and draws me close to Him.
“I am afraid,” I begin, not really sure what I am going to say. “I am afraid that you will turn me away, that you will no longer want me to serve you, I guess.” My voice is uncertain, stammering as I stumble through my words.
“Child, I will never turn you away.” He extends His left hand to me, gesturing for me to take it. “You see your name is cared upon the palm of my hand.” I trace the hard raised edges of the car with my index finger. “I have promised to never turn you away. It is you who turns away from Me in these times.”
I know what He says is true, but still I am afraid.
“Surrender that fear to Me daughter.”
I do not know how, but I am willing. I realize that there is a stone in my hand, dark, smooth and oblong—slate I think. On its smooth surface is carved the word “ALONE”.
As I read the word I realize how long I have held on to this memorial stone, believing its pronouncement over me; that I should always be alone, isolated in heart if not in physical distance. Wordlessly, I place the stone in Him hand.
I watch as He closes His powerful hand around the stone and begins to squeeze it. The stone squeals metallically in complaint before it suddenly shatters. He drops the dust and stray pieces and let them fly away in the breeze. Then He draws me close again, holding and reassuring me.
Finally, He says, “Child, will you return with Me and let Me finish?”
Even as His words weigh heavily on me, I am stuck by the fact that there is no anger, no condemnation in them. Deep within I knew it was not finished. My flesh wants to walk away and be done with this. By my heart….” Yes, Papa.” I whisper, “I will.” I am filled with dread, but the alternatives are so much worse. I cannot imagine continuing to be apart from Him.
He holds me close for a few moments longer, to remind me of His promises, I suppose. Then, He helps me to my feet, laying His arm around my shoulders to walk back to the grove.
Far too quickly we arrive at that place. Once again I find I must decide and surrender myself into His hands yet again. He receives me lovingly, but as before, His rebuke is hard and uncompromising.
“You have disobeyed Me, you have been in rebellion.” The words cut deeply through me; how they hurt! I see how my fear of submission centers in my mother. I vowed not to submit so that I would not be vulnerable to be hurt again.
“Forgive me, Papa.” I choke out the words in a strangled cry. “Forgive me for I have refused to submit to you! I repent, I repent!”
“Will you surrender control?” He firmly asks, pausing a moment in His rebuke.
Suddenly, I notice another stone in my hand. Black and sharp like obsidian, the jagged glassy oval bears the word “CONTROL” engraved upon it. I know what I must do and realize if I pause too long I will not be able to do it. Silently I hand the stone over to Him. Again, as before, He crushes it in His powerful grip. Sometimes, like now, His strength truly frightens me. Surrendered into His hands, He could crush me like that rock and there would be nothing I could do. A vague sense of helplessness washes over me.
But, His rebuke is finally over now. I am exhausted, but glad that at least of now, it is over. He guides me back to the shade garden to sit beside Him and rest once again.
It does not take long for the restlessness to seek me out once more. I don not understand why I cannot seem to relax in Him presence right now. No! The realization hits like cold water. We are still not finished. That is the source of the agitation.
“Oh, Papa!” exhaustion and distress color my cry. I feel the distance growing again. “Please! What ever it takes, I want to obey! I will go—what ever you ask!” Tears flow freely down my face. “I just want to finish this. Please, please, let us finish this.”
He does not respond; for a moment there is only an uneasy silence, punctuated by my choked sobs. I brace myself to hear there is yet more rebuke awaiting me, flinching in anticipation of it. “No.” His clear voice cuts the heavy silence finally. “No further rebuke now.” Although I try to hide it, my sigh of relief is unmistakable. “Your heart is changed, willing and softened now. That is the purpose of rebuke, once achieved, it is no longer needed. Let me take you to the source of the problem.”