We walk upstairs, to my chambers. The sun shines in through the balcony windows, but the fire is still burning brightly in the fireplace. He guides me to sit by the table where the boxes are resting. The second box remains open and not yet emptied.
“Open the third box,” He directs.
I balk; it is difficult for me to leave a task unfinished. “But we have not yet finished the second. How can I look at the future before the present is settled?” I find myself protesting. The truth is that I do not want to look in that third box.
“But the present is shaped by the future.” His voice smiles ironically as He says that. “Do you not teach that? You tell your students that the present is shaped by your picture of the future. Is that not true?”
I nod, not willing to argue the point. I open the box, but do not look inside. I cannot bear to. I know what is inside is not right, there is something wrong with it all. Uncomfortable, almost disgusted with it, I hand the box to Him. “Papa, please, take this, there is something wrong, it is not right. I don’t want this…”
Nodding, He takes it from me without hesitation. “Your dreams have been pressed and shaped by the expectations and demands of others. You are right, as they are now, you will not see them realized.” He walks deliberately to the fireplace. I am surprisingly undisturbed to see Him dumping the box out into the fire.
I watch, emotionlessly as the fire blazes and apparently consumes the contents of the box. Part of me feels relief that they are gone, like a pressure, a demand is no longer present upon me. But I am surprised as I see Him reach into the fire and retrieve objects, now purified by the fire, and place them back in the box.
“Papa, please, I really don’t want them back. Please…” I stammer, not understanding what has transpired.
“You are speaking out of your old expectations. You are speaking out of your expectations of disappointment and pain. Those have been changed…” His voice trails off.
As it does, I remember the setting of new expectations, of abundance and of love and of the tokens of those changes which sit in the study below. “Yes, Papa, but I don’t understand, why do I need these? Why are they so important.”
“Because, without a vision, my people perish.” He explains, walking back toward me with the box. Instead of pressing it on me, he sets it down on the table. “Come; walk with Me to the study.” He helps me to my feet and tenderly takes my arm. I am again struck by His incredible patience with me.
Together we walk down the long staircase to the foyer and down the hallway to the study. As we walk in, I am filled by the sense of peace and security that I find in this place.
Rather than heading toward the fireplace to sit as we have before, He guides me to the bookcases along the back wall. We stand there for a moment, before the bookcases, just looking at the shelves upon shelves of books, reaching from the floor to the high ceiling. I long to sit and pour through each one. The possibilities they contain—I sigh.
“Choose a book.” He instructs with no further direction.
I feel like a kid in a candy store, and yet, I know there is purpose here. I search the shelves, trying to find the ‘right’ volume. Finally I see it, on the third shelf up, on the far right. It is a moderate sized volume, with a red and purple cover. Carefully I remove it from the shelf.
“Read the title.” He encourages.
It takes a moment, but finally I can, it says “A Life Well Lived”. I open the book and find that it is only partially written. Over half of the pages are blank.
“What will you write on those remaining pages?” He asks, inviting me to consider the possibilities.
Now I see. Those pages, I want to write out the fulfillment of my dreams on those pages. I understand Him now. I do want to have dreams once again. The longing though is one tinged by uncomfortable anticipation.
He nods at me, smiling, knowing my thoughts. With the book still in my hands, he takes my arm and we walk together back up the stairs to my room.