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Kairos

*What follows is an experience I had with Jesus a few weeks ago. When I told the Not-So-Casual Observer about it, she asked me to write it down and submit it to Epi. Since it was published yesterday there, I’m posting it here today.

“It’s a real risk, and a real choice,” echoes the voice of the one whom I have trusted to walk with me. I quake inwardly, almost imperceptibly, knowing she’s right.  An ultimatum lingers, an austere dare of self; I hug myself in tight and wait for Jesus.

I reorient myself in this waiting place, this hidden space where soul and spirit rush together.  As my awareness grows, I am awed at the expanse of gray swallowing my field of vision. “What is that?” I reel with sudden vertigo.

From the cloak of the periphery, my Jesus speaks. He tells me that it is my wall, the construct of defenses I use to keep myself safe and others out. I am the storied princess locked in castle tower, but instead of a wicked stepmother bearing the precious key, I am my own jailor.

I pelt Him with questions. “Can I scale the wall?” Impossible, He says, for there are no footholds. “Could I tear through it myself?” He laughs softly, kindness in His eyes. It would take decades. Now desperate, I make my last-ditch plea, “May I tunnel under?” He replies that it would crush me.

Jesus offers to move it like a mountain into the sea, but I refuse. Terror of the unknown overshadows my fragile trust in the goodness of my Savior; I have not yet seen what lies beyond. We seem to be at an impasse, and I hang my head in shame.

After a moment, He offers to swing the pickaxe and allow me to control the pace. I assent, and He begins to labor. A jagged chunk of rock soon falls to the ground. I heft it into my arms and struggle under the weight of this stone named “unwillingness,” then move it into a pile designated for rubble.  So it begins, and so it goes.

As the weeks pass, I look forward to this time with Jesus at the wall. The familiar sound of metal waging war against rock somehow soothes as I tote away the ruin of my defenses. A reverent goodbye falls from my lips — a requiem to the fear of knowing — and Truth comes. Afraid to feel soon grudgingly follows. Day by day, Jesus appears and we labor together.

One morning I come eager to work, but He declares it a day of lingering, a mid-stream Sabbath. I rail against the waiting, the agony of feeling ready to move on but hearing a sovereign, “no.” He calls me to deep rest, for this is where I will recover my life. As breathing slows, trust returns. I collapse like an exhausted child.

By and by, a gift awaits. His work and my willingness have created a clearing in the massive expanse of mortar and stone, fear and control. Jesus grins broadly and asks if I am willing to see beyond. Tentatively, I peer into the distance. ­­The laws of physics are briefly suspended, because I hear before I see,

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,

Behold I will set your stones in antimony

And your foundations I will lay in sapphires

Moreover, I will make your battlements in rubies, and your gates of crystal,

And your entire wall of precious stones.” Is 54:11-12

Beyond this grotesque, monochrome barricade I’ve constructed stands a dazzling wall. The difference is so profound that I am struck dumb. As I walk toward this precious, indeed priceless, structure, I begin to process His words.

My foundations are laid in sapphires; staid, substantial blue. My battlements are made of rubies; I am to fight from a heart place, for a heart place. My gates are crystal; boundaries sure but transparent. And my wall, oh, my wall. I’ve never seen anything so spectacular and I am certain that I do not deserve such extravagance. My cheeks burn, even upon seeing the Giver’s tender hope that I will accept His offering.

I feel the delicate rhythm of my heart rising from the ground and know with certainty that it’s time to see beyond the facade. Gingerly placing a hand atop the ledge and stretching on tip of toe, I peer at this battered, barely functioning center of life. I lament the years I’ve lived with distance masquerading as safety, far away from authenticity, from Jesus.

He invites me to meet with Him here from now on, at the wall He’s given me.  The old will crumble unaided, He says, and for the first time I realize just how hard I had to work to keep it in good repair. I ask Him if I can pick up the rubble as it falls, but Jesus asks if instead I would allow Him to be my groundskeeper. I protest, still groping for a way to achieve my way into grace.

He’d rather I simply dwell here, for I have much to learn about living in such close proximity to my heart. He says he doesn’t want my energy wasted on picking up trash when I should be cultivating life. Jesus beams at me. How could I do anything but obey?

He turns to take His leave, kissing my forehead and affirming my faithfulness. He loved enough to exchange my bartering for grace, to heal before I sensed the wound. It was a real risk, and a real choice. I have chosen life.

 

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