Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chapter 32 : Returning to the abyss, pt. 3

I see a fait light at the bottom of the stairs through the hold in the wall. I can also hear the voice of the abyss growing louder. I shake my head, intentionally ringing the chimes in my ears to drown out, or at least subdue for a moment the awful voice. Yet I can hear it faintly and if I attend to it, I feel its grip sending stabs of pain deep throughout my gut.

This is different than before, much stronger, more forceful. It is different in nature too, more direct, harder to recognize for what it is, harder to ignore. “Why is it different here?” I must ask.

“The abyss is losing its grip on you. It is fighting to keep hold, to keep power over you. You are threatening to escape it fully. The abyss does not give up its captives lightly.” He explains. “I am here with you. I am your refuge and your strength. You do not need to be afraid.” He reminds, “Let that become truth to you.”

I breathe in deeply, smelling His fragrance, choosing now. “I will believe Your word. I will believe you meant what You said. I will believe.” The voices of the abyss seem to quieter now.

I glance back at the wall. It is torn open and I could scramble through the hole. I am unsure what to do though. “Papa?”

“What do you want here?’ He replies. “You may crawl through the wall, but then the wall will remain within.”

Of course! I could have seen that for myself! I am ready to be done with this obstacle, to press through it. It looks as though I could press and have it give way. But the tunnel is narrow and the block would cause me to stumble. No, I have to get rid of them, there is no other choice. “Papa, please show me, what are these, how do I get rid of them? How do I give them to you?” I turn to look at Him as He nods at me and I know now that I have chosen well.

I look back at the wall, focusing on the stone at the bottom left. It seems to be holding much together. “What is that stone, Papa?” I whisper quietly, biting my lower lip in anticipation. I think I know what it is already. The stone suddenly has a face I recognize. Then there is another and another. Soon the entire bottom row of stones is covered with faces of individuals whose words flung me into the abyss years ago.

Above them I see more faces, still more who are associated with my plunge into this darkness. In the center I see the face of my mother.

“Why is she here?” I ask without realizing I have spoken. Then I see her turning her back on me because I have done something that displeased her. And for that moment I no longer existed to her. I was not wanted! That is what ties all these faces together! Each one of them has said to me, you are not wanted!”

“Papa, What do I do with this? How do I tear this down? I cry out raggedly.

“Forgive them.” His answer is simple, yet profound I had buried all of this underground, deep, so deeply that I no longer could see it not know that it was there. Yet these faces still called out their dreadful message to me.

Swallowing hard, I reply, “Yes, Papa, I will.” Slowly, one by one, I forgive and release each one.

“ I forgive her for the words she spoke, for what she did. I give her to you—she is no longer my problem. I forgive her.” I speak the to first face on the wall. I hear a sharp crack and see the corner stone begin to split. “Papa, I forgive them. I release them to you. I hold nothing against them any longer. I forgive them. I forgive these others and I release them to you. They are now yours. “

A long horizontal crack opens along the bottom row of stones now. “I forgive the teachers, the administrators, the others. I release them into your hands. I do not have to fight their words any more. They are yours!” The crack starts extending upwards now.

The most difficult one is still at hand. Taking a deep breath, “Papa, I forgive my mother, now. I release her to you. I forgive her for turning away, for ignoring me, for not meeting my heart’s cry. I forgive her! Papa, please bring restoration to her! Please. She has lived with the consequences for long enough, set her free Papa! Set her free!.”

The stairway resounds with a loud crack that echoes painfully through my head. The stabbing, throbbing pain shoots through my temples and echoes within me. A loud rumble distracts me from it as I see the wall crumble into a heap at my feet.

“Papa, I repent for my unforgiveness, for failing to forgive these, for building this wall within me. Tear it down! Take it, crush it! Leave none of it within me. I know I cannot be what you have desired if it remains. Destroy it completely!” I struggle to life a heavy stone to give to Him hoping He will destroy it. It is too much for me, though and I cannot lift it.

Suddenly, He is at my side, now taking the stone from me, lifting, then crushing it by His mighty power. It is so effortless to Him! His strength amazes me. One by one, He crushes the stones until only powder remains.

“Spread this on the path and pack it down well underfoot lest any dust remains airborn.” He instructs.

Painstakingly, I spread the crushed stone along the staired path towards the door. I do not go down further than we have already come. Meticulously, I tread along the entire area, trying to firmly pack the crushed stone into place.

“Is this enough? “ I finally ask.

He looks over my work, pausing to firm up a spot under His own foot. He nods. “Yes, it is done.”

In the silence of the moment I realize a voice has been silenced. I no longer hear “not wanted” in the distance. I am sure though this is not enough, we are not yet complete in our task.

He nods. “You are correct, that was just the first obstacle. But it was not a small one. This wall has influenced every relationship you have in some way or another. It kept you from sharing, especially sharing your needs and kept you from receiving, from allowing others to give to you.

“The wall has been in place a long time. Now that it is gone, you will need to adjust. It will feel threatening to you at first, admitting your needs, letting others touch them. Do not let the fear that you have learned cheat you from this. Push through the fear and take hold of My hand. Draw strength from me and take refuge in Me, not in your own self protection.

“See that what I have given you is good.” His voice is encouraging. I feel anxious though. Do I really want this? A part of me does not. “You flesh.” He offers.

It feels unsafe, exposed. I liked life behind the wall where it was protected, concealed. I feel exposed vulnerable now. I can meet my own needs much more efficiently on my own…

“No—“ He interjects, stopping my run away rationalizations. “You cannot. That is a lie you have learned to believe. You are not designed to be alone. To be complete, you must be tied together with others, fed by and feeding others.

“Do not continue in that deception. You can get by on your own, but you are emaciated, starving for more. Look at what I have just now healed in you—How strong the desire to be filled now that it has seen the light of my restoration! How hungry you are!

“That is the state of your heart. Hungry but you do not even know it. You cannot hear the hunger pangs, yet you are starving. Let me restore that to you-allow you to connect with and receiving from others.”

The silence hangs heavy as He lets me decide. How much easier this would be if I did not have to decided at each step. But I must. I cannot turn away from what He wants.

“Yes, Papa, please, begin the process. I know it will not be instant, please begin to heal and restore this walled up place that I might be able to connect again.” I wish I felt this more as I pray, but it is all that I have at the moment.

He reaches out and takes my shoulders in His hands, presses His forehead to mine. “Reach out to Me, daughter, bridge the gap between us.”

I reach out and grasp His arms, just at the elbow, I can reach no further. His arms are so big, so strong that I cannot even begin to grasp them fully in my hands, but I try none the less.

I can feel His breath warm, even hot upon my face. I breathe it in, at first it is difficult, even suffocating. But then it becomes easier, cooler, freer. I am able to breathe in deeply what He has breathed upon me.

“Breath in my life, My spirit, child. Let it fill and rebuilt you from within.”

A cool breeze blows in through the door, down the long stairs, refreshing and renewing the stale air, echoing what He has said.

I want to reply, but have no words. I just breath and obey what He has spoken. ‘I will supply all your needs according to much riches and glory. I will supply….’

I remember how Elisha brought life to the dead child, laying upon him and breathing upon him. I wonder if perhaps part of my heart—once deal is now coming to life again.

“It is—if you will allow it, even nurture it.” He replies softly.

“How do I nurture this?”

“By taking risks, run barefoot in the grass, hold My hand and run, talk to those you meet along the way and share from the depths of your heart. Hold My hand, I will give you strength.”

I clutch His arms, overwhelmed by the notion. “Show me where and when, Papa. I will, I will do it.” These are words of faith.

“I know you will…” Suddenly I realize, He has faith in, belief in me!. He sees my heart and He believes in me! I realize how little I know my own heart when He believes in me more that I do.

“Thank you Papa, thank you.” Tears slide down my face to the crushed stone below.

Finally, He takes my face in His huge, strong hands. He kisses my forehead, lingering slightly. “I love you.” He reminds me.

“I think I am finally beginning to know that, Papa—finally, maybe….”

He smiles on me. And I wonder at what a strange place, the path to the abyss, it is to finally have that realization. And ironically, in spite of all this I find I begin to run from Him, from all of this. My heart, my flesh I suppose takes off, trying to lose itself in a place He cannot find me. It does not last long this time, only a few hours, not days. My flesh has not been subdued, as my routine has been broken and the flesh gained strength while I did not attend to it. I call out to Him, and He is there.

“Forgive me Papa, I repent,” hanging my head in shame, awaiting the heaviness of His correction.

“No,” He finally says. “You already know, your heart is repentant, there is no need. You know.”

“I repent Papa, I bring my flesh under submission to you. I bring it under your rule.” I return to the routine I had left and find my flesh is once again able to submit.

Chapter 32 : Returning to the abyss, pt. 2

I chew on this for a long time, savoring what He has given Me. I have heard these words before, but they never touched me like this before. Many times I have felt that those I have trusted have spoken against me, turned against me. I begin to see that He has not been behind the words that have been said to me. That it was not Him who inspired the words that rejected me. Perhaps, it did not even please Him that those tings were said. I never that that it please Him specifically, but I guess I had not really thought of it displeasing Him either.

“Those words were not from Me, child. I was never in that.” Tenderly He touches my face, bringing me back from the past into the moment with Him. “I am your refuge.” He reminds me.

I begin to realize, finally, that I am not alone. I never was. He was there for all of it although I did not understand it then.

“Come now, you cannot go unarmed.”

I realize that my sword and belt and shield are still learning by the tree. Quietly we walk there together.

As I gather them, I ask, “Please teach me about these. I do not feel I really understand them”

Smiling, He takes them from my hands. “You already know what these are, truth, faith and My word. They are linked together. Truth is your foundation, holding everything together, supporting everything.” He fastens the wide belt firmly around my waist. “Truth comes from my Word and from faith, they are linked. It is your using of truth that holds you together. It is what is deep within your heart, not head knowledge. This is what has become truth to you.” He hands me the shield. “This is faith. This is what you are willing to believe Me for. What are you willing to ask of Me and trust that I will do when your faith is in Me. I am your refuge. You will not be shaken. It requires a strength and tenacity of decision to hold on to what you know is true. And this…” He hands me the sword, “This is My word.”

JN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

“My Word is powerful, alive with My life. You can use it to the extent that you have faith in what has become truth to you. Knowing My Word alone is not sufficient. It must be truth to you, under girded by faith in it.”

I listen, concentrating on what He is saying. Do I believe what He has just shared with Me? Is it truth to me? Do I have faith in what He has spoken to me? I glance over my shoulder toward the door He has shown me, the back at Him. I must, I have no choice. To overcoming this thing I must believe what He has said and act on it.

“Yes, daughter, that is the way. What you have is sufficient to overcome, you must choose what you will do with it. Whether you will use it or not.” He explains.

“Yes, Papa, I understand. I will choose to believe what you have said. You are my refuge. I will hide in you for You are on my side.” I reply carefully. Words are cheap, I must do more than simply speak them. I need to walk them out as well. That is what the challenge will be. “Papa, I just realized, I will need light too,” I remember the darkness of the abyss.

“I am your Light and I will be with you.” He replies, taking my hand. I am reassured as we walk toward the doorway. We wade through the water to get to the door. There are a couple of feet of ground between the water and the door, so standing is awkward.

He reaches out and opens the doors with surprising ease. Few doors seem to have opened so easily. He ushers me through before Him. The stairs here are not open as they were at the other door. We can only take a few steps before we come to a wall, a large brick wall blocking the way.

At first I do not know what the wall is, but then I realize that I know this wall. It is the wall that stands between my heart and those who try to be close to me. This is the wall that keeps me from reaching out and allowing others to meet my needs.

Suddenly, I see how I have struggled and fought to meet my own needs, even at the expense of meeting the needs of others. In my independence I have taken care of myself to make sure my needs were met, needs which should have been submitted to others, and failed to meet needs that were my responsibility to meet. I have failed to submit, allowed my independence to stand between myself and others such that no one needs were met.

“Papa. Forgive me!” I cry out, astonished at what I have seen. “I never knew I never knew the depth of my sin! Forgive me! I repent. I submit, I submit my needs to you Papa God!” It is so very clear not, I see what I have done there is no question, not excuse. It is before me and the stain is unmistakable. I sob both in repentance and in frustration. How should all this be there? I never before realized the depth of the sin within me. “Please, please, forgive me, Papa!”

I see something more now, there is a further cry in me, I want to cry out for restoration as well, but find I am reluctant to.

“Why do you not ask child?” He presses me, not allowing me to dodge the issue I do not truly want to face.

I do not want to answer, yet dare not disobey His press for an answer. Finally, I whisper, “Because…why should you do this for me? Why would you say yes? I have caused this in my sin. These are the consequences of my sin—why would you want to step in to change that which I have so earned?” I cannot lift my eyes to look at Him, I am so afraid of Him in this moment. I am guilty, how can I ask for anything?

I feel more than see the sternness of His expression. I know He is not pleased with me. My heart sinks, feels tight and cold within me.

“What kind of parent do you think I am? To bring you to a place of repentance without hope of restoration? To change your heart and breath life into it only to leave it for death in a situation without hope or promise? If one of your own sons were to recognize and repent of his own disobedience would you not move heaven and earth to bring him into fullness of inheritance?” His voice is very firm, almost angry now.

Meekly, I reply, “Yes, I would, once I saw the change of heart was a real change.”

“Then how much less do you expect Me to do for you?” He demands.

I am afraid now. “I don’t know, I don’t know! “ My tears flow freely now, “Why would you do anything for me? Why would you care?” The words tumble out unbidden, pouring from the wounds of my heart, from the voice of this place.

Suddenly, He is holding me, allowing me to draw strength from Him. “Because I love you.” He whispers in my ear, holding me more tightly still. “Ask of me…”

It is hard to draw breath through my sobs, but finally I am able to whisper, “Please, Papa, please heal, please bring restoration. Restore what the locust has eaten and the canker worm destroyed. Restore what my sin has destroyed!” I am shaking even as I ask this.

“I will child, you will see. I will.” He replies softly in my ear. He holds me as the shaking finally stops.

“Show me the source of this, Papa. Where does this come from?” I want to get to the heart of the problem, to truly and finally change.

Nodding, He shows me a picture of my birth, prematurely taken from my mother’s womb, suddenly cut off all source and supply. I struggle to breathe but no one realizes, there is not help offered. I struggle for breathe, finally taking in ragged gasp, then crying out in fear. Still no one realizes my distress, no one comes to me in my needs. I am cold and afraid and alone. There is no one to meet my needs! I must meet them myself—no one can be trusted—no one will give me what I need!

My heart breaks at this picture. There is no one who could confirm this picture to me, but my heart confirms it clearly in the depth of pain that rises in response.

“Forgive me this vow! Papa, please, forgive me this vow! Please break down these structures and restore, rebuild, renew. Tear down this wall!” Raising my eyes to Him, I see cracks appear in the wall now. I rush to it and am able to pull one large stone known! I hand it to Him. He crushes it in Him powerful hands, the pink powder falling from it looks like crushed granite paving material. It covers the stairs thinly. Pulling a second stone down, I hand it to Him to be crushed.

Chapter 32 : Returning to the abyss, pt. 1

I try to obey, yet find myself sitting at the foot of the bed, staring at the objects on the shelf for a very long time. Finally, I fall asleep, sitting there, leaning on the post at the foot of the bed. Not long afterwards, I wake, blinking in the morning light. I feel neither rested nor refreshed. I am stiff and my mind is foggy. I look around and find that He is there, still in the doorway, watching me.

“Come with Me.” He invites, extending His hand to me. I unfold myself from the awkward position on the bed and slowly walk to Him. It is somehow a relief to be in His company again. He entwines my arm in His tenderly. “Come; let us go out into the garden.”

We walk carefully down the outer stairs to the garden grove below. I wonder briefly if we are going to the place of correction again. I find that I am at peace even if this is the case. But it does not seem to be His destination. We walk through the garden, talking for much of the morning.

As we walk, though, I feel a pull, a pressure on me that distracts. Things seem confusing, unclear. I do not know how to see what is going on around me, how to understand what I am feeling and hearing. The pressure builds and builds, becoming impossible to ignore, overwhelming. “Papa, what is this? Please help me! I can not continue this way, help me!”

He turns to look at me. “What are you hearing?”

Until this moment I did not realize that it was indeed a voice that I felt more than heard. I pause for a moment to listen for it and I hear clearly now the words, “You are not wanted.”

Now I understand what I am responding to, what I am feeling. But I do not understand where it is coming from. The voice is not loud, just a muffled sound, but enough to raise a reaction within me. “Where is this coming from? What have I done? What do I need to do to get rid of this?” I find myself growing more and more agitated.
His answer takes a long time. “It is the voice of the abyss.” He explains.

“But how? We shut the door—nailed it shut. You quieted that voice.” I am confused, remembering my struggles through that place.

“Come, I will show you.” He guides me through the garden, to the sunny side of the castle. We pause at the bench by the water and he points out a door in the castle, near the waters edge, at the corner of the wall. In all the times we have been here I had never seen this before. “There is another door to that place.

“You did shut the door to the abyss, but the voice is strong, even penetrating through the song of grace that you hear now. It is not coming at you in the old ways. The voice is calling to you in new ways now.”

I realize that this door is in the sun, not in the shadows as before. The voices, feelings I am struggling with are coming from a source which has never been a source before, my husband. This is a new picture and new way indeed. “What must I do, Papa?” I ask, desperate to make it stop.

“You have a choice; you can nail the second door shut. The voice will remain, but the door will be shut and you do not have to go into that place. Or, you can go into that place and silence the voice.” He does not seem to indicate which the right choice is.

I think for a moment. I do not want to go back there, but there does not seem to be much of a choice. Closing the door does not silence the voice and I want it silenced. “Will you go with me? I can’t go back there alone.” I begin, stammering with anxiety.

Placing His hand on my shoulder He says, “You will not go alone. But you must prepare first. You cannot go as you are right now.”

“Yes, Papa. Please, help me.” I am relieved that He will be with me. Even now, the thought of facing that abyss alone is more than I believe I can do.

“Come, then, first you must eat.” He guides me around the side of the castle to the back door to the kitchen. We walk in and He begins to prepare a meal for me. He places a large piece of meat on a plate and pours a large glass to milk. Instead of going into the dining room, He turns back outside, heading toward the intimate picnic area. We sit at the table and He places the meal before me.

I hesitate for a moment, not knowing where to begin.

“Drink the milk.” He tells me.

I hesitate, not understanding why that is important now.

“Drink. It will replenish what is being taxed right now. It is the foundational things that are being attacked right now. These are what are usually attacked, and debilitated. It is rarely the deep things that come under such attack.”

I take up the large glass and begin to drink. It is incredibly rich. Not like the milk I am accustomed to drinking, stripped of the richness for health’s sake. I must drink slowly, it is so rich. I savor the flavor and the fullness, not having realized the depth that was present in His milk.

PS 59:9 O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, [10] my loving God. God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me.

PS 59:16 But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.17 O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.

PS 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

PS 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

PS 62:11 One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong,12 and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

He reminds me of His strength, His love. His is my fortress and I will not be shaken from His arms for He alone is my refuge.

As I finish the milk, I find strength returning to my bones. I am strengthened and reassured. I am finding peace in Him once again. “Thank you, Papa.” I breathe. “You were right, that is exactly what I needed.”

“Now, take the meat.”

I begin to eat the meat He has placed before me:

PS 55:12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend,14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.
PS 55:20 My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. 21 His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.
PS 56:1 Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me; all day long they press their attack.2 My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride.
PS 56:5 All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me.6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life.7 On no account let them escape; in your anger, O God, bring down the nations.

PS 55:16 But I call to God, and the LORD saves me.17 Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.18 He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.
PS 56:8 Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll-- are they not in your record?
PS 56:9 Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.10 In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise--11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

PS 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
PS 55:23 … But as for me, I trust in you.
PS 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
PS 56:13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Men have hurt me, come against me, those who were close and trusted. When I call to Him, I am saved, He does not forget me, but sees and records my distress. He delivers me from my distress, the efforts of those against me have no effect on Him, but His hand is against them and He will turn them back. His is for me. He will never let me fall, I trust Him and will not fear. No man can harm me beneath His coverings, I walk with Him.