I feel as though I dare not express to Him how relieved I am to know His rebuke is finally over. At least for now. Taking my arm in His, he walks me to the north east corner of the castle, where the castle and courtyard share a common wall. A small thorny weed growing near the wall catches His attention. The vine seems insignificant and easy to overlook.
Yet, He points to it, directing me, “You must get rid of this. Dig it up; do not let this grow and undermine what has been built here in this place.”
Not fully understanding, I obey. I have nothing but my hands to dig with now. My sword is still back in the grove. For a moment I think about going back for it, but He shakes His head.
“No, you do not need that now. This is a matter of your choices.”
So I begin digging with my hands. The process is slow and difficult, but I finally reach a large white root, positioned directly beneath the wall, near the corner. I am puzzled. I fear if I try to dig it out the wall might lose support and begin to collapse.
He nods. “Open up the root and remove what is within.”
I can feel Him watching me as He directs me. I wonder how to carry out his instruction, having nothing to cut the root open with. I try clawing at it with my fingernails. At first it does not give way.
I remember what He taught me before though, that I must bring my flesh into submission, choosing His will over my own. I command my flesh to submit. The root starts to tear under my hands and I peel open the tough outer husk. Inside I find four large white pods, the size and weight of gallon milk jugs.
Struggling slightly with them, one at a time I pull them out of the underground husk, laying them at His feet. Each one is marked with a word. Together they read, “I WILL NOT SUBMIT”. I swallow hard at this revelation. I never knew such a declaration was buried so deep within me.
“Look at the third one.” His voice calls me from my reverie.
I take the pod in my hands, staring at the word “NOT”.
I try clawing it open, but it will not tear. “I submit my heart to You, Papa!” I pray under my breath. The pod splits open suddenly.
As it does, I see myself at age 2 or 2 ½, telling my maternal grandmother that I did not have to listen to her, she was not my mother. I have heard the story many times from my parents, including the part about how this lead to one of my few childhood spankings. I have always been embarrassed by the tale. This time though, He shows me something different. I see how, in that moment, in my childishness I realized that I truly did not have to submit. All I really had to do was make it look like I was doing the right thing and that was sufficient. As long as I acted in ways that were close enough to expectations, my heart did not have to submit. And so the pattern became set.
“Forgive me, Papa! Forgive me! Forgive this vow within me, that I would not submit! Break down these structures Papa! I will submit. I will submit!”
He nods deeply.
“How do I get rid of this?” I am excited, yet fearful of the possibility of finally finishing and closing the gap between Him and me.
“Open up the pod and spill its contents on the ground.” He directs
Struggling, I finish pulling it open. Finally it flies apart. The pod is filled with insects! I drop it in fear and revulsion, reflexively brushing my arms and legs with my hands to make sure there are none on me. My stomach churns at the mass of creatures on the ground and I jump back trying to distance myself from them.
“Burn them.” He hands me the lantern from His hands.
Keeping as much distance as possible between me and the writhing mass of bugs I pour the coals out of the lantern out over them. The coals glow for a moment then burst into flames, consuming the insects and the now empty pod that contained them.
Once the flames die down, I sweep the coals carefully back into the lantern.
“Now, return the remaining pods back to the root.”
If anything, the pods feel heavier now. I struggle with their weight as I return them to the root under the wall. “I WILL SUBMIT” I bury the root once more, allowing it to continue supporting the castle wall. Finally finished, I sit back on my heels, my energy spent.
He stands beside me, looking at me. Placing His hand on my shoulder, His voice is soft, “Come, let us go back to the shade garden once more.” Reaching out to help me up, He takes my arms to lead me back to the garden.