Stumbling Stones

God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.” Isaiah 57:14 NLT

Last night as I got off the phone after a conversation about preparing the way of the Lord, I heard, “It’s time to get rid of some more stones on the road.”  So, when I woke up this morning, He said, “Come take a walk with me.”  I have not walked and gone to my secret place with Him in over a week,  not since encountering an intrusive runner.  My secret place for the last month has taken the form of a stone table under a blossoming tree facing the sunrise near our home.

Last week, a male runner distracted my attention multiple times and invaded my space to the point I felt somewhat violated by his presence.  I have never carried pepper spray, but after talking with my husband, we felt for the first time in my adult life, I should carry some in my pocket.  So, I took my pepper spray and headed out the door.  I immediately felt irritated, like something gnawing beneath my skin.  I was mad, and I wanted to use strong words to express my displeasure, but I am supposed to be spending time with the Almighty, and had been pretty much dodging Him for a week.  He had said the last time, He wanted to give me compassion for the abuser, and then this skinny, sweaty runner invades my space forcing me to come out armed.  Papa nudged me, encouraging me to share how I felt with Him, so I did.

I quickly began to realize that not only had I been angry with this unknown man, but I was pretty miffed at God for revealing our secret place.  I felt exposed by God.

When I say I saw a vision, I mean I see a picture in my head, and sometimes that image almost looks like an overlay on what I’m actually seeing.  My feet continued to pad the ground toward my destination.  There in front of me I saw an image of Jesus on the ground.  I heard Him say, “Take your anger out on me then.  I can handle it.”  He lay there completely vulnerable to my angry fists balled up.   I thought of Him willingly being beaten for my sins, His precious flesh hanging like ribbons.  I couldn’t do it, and found myself crying, “It wasn’t your fault.”

Realizing this is going much deeper than what happened last week, I began to let Him go deeper in my heart.  Then He said, “Whose to blame?”  I could hear me shouting my name.  The self accusations flew again, “I was not strong enough to stop evil. Something was wrong with me. I was to blame.”  I saw an image of my mom slapping me across the face, which happened multiple times growing up.   I saw myself as worthless, helpless, internalizing shame, that I was unfixable. I was bad.   Now barely able to see thru my hot tears, and slightly embarrassed at my avalanche of emotions, I kept my face towards the ground.

Finally, I sat down at my rock table.  Jesus said, “So this little girl, this is the one you blame”, and I saw myself about age three sitting across from me at the table.  He then began to tell me how He sees this little one.  Innocent, strong, blameless, one willing to lay down her life for others, pure, brave, loved, full of love, safe, and a safe person.  I was undone.

Then He said, “So whose to blame, those who hurt you?”, and I saw a line of little children.  I decided it was best not to answer Him this time,  nor did He give me a chance. I heard Him say, “I will hold them accountable for their choices, but did they start off as abusers, or were they abused, hurt little children themselves?  Did they not believe lies told to them? You did not chose into becoming an abuser, even when you were forced to abuse, but even for those who did, I have compassion for them, for I see them as little, broken children.”

“So, who is to blame then?  The evil forces of darkness, the spiritual forces, that lie and deceive my creation, that is where the blame lies.  But I am far greater than even this.  It’s time to let these old mind sets go.  It’s a process I know.”

A process for sure.  Layer after layer.  Deeper and deeper still.  His love is unrelenting sometimes.  But I’ve learned that even if His touch causes pain in opening a wound, it’s always to bring healing.

“I want you to write the little girl sitting at the table a letter.”, He whispered in my ear as the breeze gently blew the new, baby leaves of the tree above me.  And so I did…  A letter of healing, of forgiveness, of identity.  A tear stained letter.  I left my secret place that day a little lighter, a little freer.

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