*It's been a little while since He first engraved this lesson on my heart, but lately I have remembered because He's been teaching me the same thing again and I decided it was time to share these words here.
Sun rises over the farm as I walk and pray. Pink wildflowers bloom along the side of the path and I stoop to pick them. Today He’s calling to my heart to open up and trust Him and the mental picture He uses to reach me takes my breath away. I think on this one for hours and the truth of it slowly sinks in.
I write and it becomes clearer than ever… We’ve all been broken and we all have a cell. The beautiful part is that we all have a Master knocking at our door. We get to choose how the rest of the story goes for us.
She hadn’t always been surrounded by bars. At one time she had been free to run through grassy meadows and watch the sunset from mountain vistas. But she wasn’t that girl anymore. Her imprisonment was not the kind you would expect though.
When she was free she had loved a lot of people. It seemed like the whole world was her friend and she jumped and skipped at the joy of loving and being loved. One day though, that had all changed. Someone that she had trusted began to slip away and repay her love with jealously and coldheartedness.
At first she couldn’t believe it. Why would someone she trusted turn on her? How could they do it? Did they not care as much as she thought?
That’s when she first started building her cell. She hadn’t even meant to, but somehow she couldn’t seem to stop herself from putting up the bars. She didn’t live there but when someone rejected her friendship, she would run to her cell and hide. Somehow the bars made her feel safe.
Slowly she started loving less too. What was the point of loving people who didn’t care as much as she did? All it did was bring pain and though she loathed to admit it, she was very afraid of hurting.
Sometimes she would venture out of the cell for a long time and almost forget the wounds of the past. She started to think that maybe it wasn’t her issue after all, and maybe most people were actually safe. Her wings of freedom started to return and the sun shone brighter.
And then it happened again. This time she had loved deeper and invested even more of herself than before. She’d thought she could really trust this companion but slowly she’d felt a gap coming between herself and her friend and she knew something was wrong. The wound of the past reared it’s ugly head and caused her to doubt if she was really worth loving anyway. She was too afraid to chase the one that seemed to be slipping away, so she just watched it happen while her heart crumbled.
Again she found a retreat in her cell. She ran into it and though it was damp and dark and lonely, there was no one there to hurt her. No one could penetrate the walls unless she opened the door and that was not about to happen anytime soon. She felt a strange comfort from the horrible loneliness of hiding and though she knew deep down it wasn’t a good thing, she felt helpless to do anything else. She would never have taken revenge on her friends who wounded her, but somehow this hiding from the world was a passive attack.
One can only hide for so long though before going crazy and as the weeks dragged on, her loneliness grew unbearable. She ached to see the light of a smile again, to feel a hug, and to hear someone say that they cared. At the same time, she was afraid of all those very things. How could she know she wouldn’t be hurt again?
Finally her longing for companionship pulled her out of her cell. At first, the sun hurt her eyes and the beauty of the world around her broke her heart. But slowly she started to smile again and before long she was back on the hills, running and skipping for joy. She’d made a new friend and she couldn’t help but soak up the happiness.
Despite still being wounded from her last interaction with people, she had trusted again. This time she was convinced that she had found a friend entirely different to her previous experiences and she threw herself into loving and being loved. Over and over she would catch herself smiling in the sunshine because of the warmth of being loved and truly understood. This must be what human companionship was meant to be! Maybe all along she had only tasted a fraction because she had never really opened up and trusted with all her heart. Maybe that’s why her relationships hadn’t always been successful. Trusting wasn’t such a bad thing after all, she decided.
Something started changing though and she recognized the familiar pain of a treasure slipping away. This time she would not sit idly by and watch. She was willing to fight to the moon and back and somehow she felt sure that that would be enough.
Time proved that it was not. Heartbroken, she started to retreat back into her cell, but her desperation finally pushed her out in one last attempt to re-secure her treasure. But alas, again she was left alone and she crept back to her cell, determined that this time she would never leave again.
Months passed and her eyes slowly began to adjust to the dark. The grassy hills became a distant dream as did the thought of human companionship. This cell was home now.
One morning she was startled to hear a voice outside. It wasn’t just any voice either. It was the most loving and understanding One she had ever heard.
Little one, I know you’re hurting. Will you let Me come in and hold you in My arms and comfort you?
She froze. She knew this voice. It was the Master. She’d been close to Him back in the days when she ran and skipped freely. She knew He cared and that He loved her more than any human ever could but somehow she had neglected talking to Him and as she built her cell to hide her from humanity, she found that she was hiding there from Him too.
His words made her heart break. Part of her wanted to let Him in, and part of her was terribly afraid to do so. The fear ran so deep that she didn’t know if she could open the door even if she wanted to.
“Master, I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t be hiding here in the dark when you’ve made a bright and glorious world, but I can’t leave. You don’t understand. I can’t even open the door. I have been so battered and bruised that I just cannot love or be loved again.”
I know, kiddo. I actually do understand. I’ve been hurt too. I’m not asking you to venture out into the world right now. I just want you to let me in and tell me all about it.
“Part of me wants to. More than I can say. But how can I trust again? How can I be honest with anyone when every time I have ventured to in the past, it’s been thrown back in my face?”
Have you ever trusted me in vain?
“No. But it’s been a very long time since I have.”
What’s stopping you?
“I don’t think I can open the door of this cell even if I wanted too. I’ve been in this corner for so long, I am too weak to even get up.”
I know. I don’t expect you to open it alone. I will help you, if you’re willing to let me.
And so they did. He pushed from His side and she pulled from hers and slowly the door budged. The Master came in and listened to every ache that had wracked her little heart. Sometimes she told Him her darkest secrets with tears. Other times her voice was angry and she shouted out the pain that had kept her captive. Sometimes she merely whispered. Through it all, He listened and placed His strong arms around her.
Gradually something began to change in her heart. She began to trust Him. The more she opened up, the more of His love she saw and the more she fell in love with Him. He was everything her human companions had never been. He cared no matter what she said or did. And He never ever left.
Best of all, He was trustworthy.
One day, after talking to Him for several hours, she looked up and gasped in delight. It was unbelievable. The bars were gone! The dingy cell no longer existed! She was out in the sunshine on the hills with Him.
To this day she doesn’t know exactly how it happened but somehow He broke down the walls around her heart and set her free by His love. It had been a painful journey but a beautiful one. Now, when friends failed her and proved unworthy of her trust, she no longer runs to her cell. It is no more. Instead she runs to Him and He hold hers in His arms and she feels safer than she ever could have in her cell.
Again she skips hills and this time her smile is unmarred by the slights of the world. She has found a Friend. And He is trustworthy.
I walk hills too and I whisper in quiet…
Master, pull on your side of the door. Prove trustworthy in my life and the lives of my generation.
Break down the bars. Put your hands over ours and give us strength to open the door of our hearts.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.