I know, I know, it sounds crazy, or ultra spiritual and hokey. But it isn't the first time its happened to me, or the first time I've blogged about it. And this time...I almost didn't. Because I don't know...I don't think I can really give it the right words.
But I can't stop crying, and shaking, and laughing, and then back to the crying. So I want to share it. Because even if most of the blogging world (and by that I mean the few people who read this particular blog) thinks I've gone off the deep end...if the Lord shows you something, it's never just for you. Right? Eventually everything He reveals is for someone else...because He's just that good.
Okay. It started while I was praying, and mulling over a vision that a pastor shared during his message Sunday. I'll recap that one first, because I was praying about it, and about how it could apply to my life, and then the crying, shaking laughing thing started.
There is a person sitting in a room, on a bed. In front of them, on the floor, are broken shackles. The person isn't attached to the shackles anymore. They are looking down at them, recognizing them, but no longer bound by them. As the rest of the room comes into focus, you can see its a jail cell. The door of the cell is open. But the person is still sitting on the bed.
That was the vision my pastor friend had. And it spoke powerfully to many of us on Sunday. This morning, as I was praying, talking to the Lord about areas of my own life where I had been set free but wasn't walking in that freedom...I saw more of the vision, more of the picture. For the sake of easier writing, I will now refer to the person in the vision as myself. But...it is all of us. Read it like its you.
Suddenly, standing the doorway of the cell, is Jesus. "You are free of this, little one. See the blood on the shackles? Its my blood. I opened them with it. See the key in the door? That's the key of death. I went to hell and got it, and I brought it back to free you. Get up, little one. Leave this room behind you."
And I do. Because He paid dearly to free me, and with Him standing in front of me, how can I do anything but accept His offer?
As I walk forward, He begins to step backward, and, eyes on Him, I move out of that death cell.
We pass through the door and into another room. I stop, and take in the scenery. On these walls, I quickly realize, are a list of my failures, things I'm ashamed of. I don't want to look at it all. I certainly don't want Jesus to see it. In shame, in horror, I collapse on the bed in this room and cover my head. But...He sits beside me, and He speaks. "We aren't staying here. This room isn't a cell for you anymore. Look...look up, my child."
When I open one eye, just a crack, and glance at the wall, I see the blood again. I don't see my guilt, and my shame. I glance at Jesus, and I see that He is also looking at the wall, but He doesn't see all of the sins recorded there. He sees His blood. And He is smiling as He speaks to me. "Let's keep moving."
And so we do. Each time we pass through a doorway, we pass into another room. But I'm getting used to what will happen, and its becoming less dramatic and horrifying. I see what is written on the walls, I know its meant to imprison me, to crush me, to keep me from being able to keep following Him to the next room...but now, eyes wide open, I get to see my Savior walk over to the wall, and apply His blood to it. White-washing it in red. And I start to get excited, almost, for Him to see more of my heart. "This room too, Lord! Clean this one out too, so I can leave it behind."
A long time passes this way. The process of cleaning out rooms and leaving them behind is hard. Its a lot of work, and it takes a while.
Then, we step into a room that is different from the others.
This one has furniture in it. A chair and a lamp in one corner. A coffee pot and mug on a table in another corner. The bed is there too, with a fluffy comforter and pillows on it. And I think to myself "yeeeeeeesssss. I made it out of the cells. Now I can rest."
Almost as soon as I sit down on the bed, I glance at the wall across from me, expecting to find lovely pictures hung there. But I don't. The words I see written there make me shrink back. I pull the blanket up to my chest and my knees into my stomach.
"I don't understand," I say out loud. And I look over to see Jesus standing in the doorway, watching me with love in His eyes.
"You've had this room with you a long time, little one. Aren't you ready to let it go?"
I don't want to. I can feel the ache crushing me. I like this room. I can tell. It is part of who I am. Leaving it behind will mean losing a piece of myself. I shake my head at the Lord.
"It's too much, Jesus. We've already stripped so much of me. Anymore...and I won't be able to take it. This is far enough. I am not a prisoner anymore. I am happy here."
Time passes. I grow comfortable in my room. I even look back at the door I came through and praise the Lord for the freedom He's given me from the guilt and shame and addictions and lies. But...I don't look at the other door. Because that's where Jesus is standing. I crawl into my bed. I drink my coffee. I sit in my chair. I am at home here. This room has been with me too long to part with.
But then, something happens. Another person walks into my room. Someone who I just know, without it being explained to me, is also on a journey through rooms. At first, the person looks around, confused. I'm confused too. Why is this person passing through MY room on their journey? I don't speak, though. I just wait, sitting on my bed.
They look all around, blinking, taking in my comfortable existence. Then, they look at me.
"Why are you still here?" they ask. I shrug.
"Because its mine. It's part of me."
"But its a cell," they say, and point to the window.
And for the first time, I see the bars on it. I lash out at the person."You don't know anything."
Nothing more is said to me as I lay down and pull the covers up to my chin. I shut my eyes and cover my ears with pillows.
But the person is talking. Not to me. To the other doorway, the one where Jesus was standing the last time I looked.
"Help her, Lord. Show her. She wants to be free, I know it. Cause her to remember all you have freed her from so far. Calm her fear of leaving this behind. Remind her that following You is worth more than anything else she would ever hold dear."
I can't take it anymore, and I start to yell, to drown out what the person is saying...and then my yell turns to a wail. I am gripping the blankets on my bed tightly, and I am curling myself around them.
The weight shifts on the bed, and a strong, warm hand touches the top of my head. I don't move. I know Who it is, and I cannot make eye contact with Him.
But my heart is aching with thoughts. "I DO want to be free, Jesus. I DO want you more. But I'm afraid. I don't know how to leave this behind. Help me. Please, please help me."
He reaches down and scoops me up into His arms. I feel like my skin is being ripped away from my bones as He does it. I cry louder, in pain.
He whispers. "Sssshhhh. I'm here. It's okay. I'm here." I manage to glance back at the bed, at the place I have been living comfortably, expecting to see chunks of myself there. Instead, I see words, written in blood. "Her healing from this has always hers. She is now choosing to walk in it."
I cry harder, and I bury my head on the chest of my Liberator. I am so ashamed that I have stayed so long in this place. I ask Him to forgive me. "I didn't know it was a cell. I didn't see it. I'm sorry. Forgive me, Lord. Help me let it go. I want to. But I need you to help me."
We stand that way for a long time, me crying, Jesus holding me. Finally the pain begins to become bearable, and I realzie that He isn't going to leave the room until I say I am ready.
"Okay, Jesus. You're here. I can do it. I can leave this behind. I want to be free of this place. If there is still more...I'm ready for it."
Only as we are about to leave the room do I remember the person that came in and called me out, pointing out my actual situation, and then praying for me until I was willing to see it for myself. I look back, wanting to thank them, but they are gone.
Jesus speaks. "I am always with you, little one. And sometimes, the way I am speaking to you is through others. Your journey is meant to intersect the journey of others. But...you have to keep moving in order for that to happen."
As we leave my most recent jail cell behind, my Companion sets me down on my feet, and we resume our previous posture, where He is leading me, walking backward, and I am following Him.
More rooms, more freedom...it passes in a blur. I'm so excited to be moving again, and I keep praising the Lord for liberating me from all the things I thought I needed to hold on to.
And then I come into a room I don't recognize. With a chair in a corner, a coffee pot, a comfy bed. At first, I wonder if this is another room I am going to end up staying in for a while. But then...I see a person on the bed, looking at me in confusion. And I realize...I've entered someone else's journey.
I'm so excited. "Get up!" I exclaim. "Don't stay here! It is a cell!"
They scowl at me. "Leave me alone. You don't know anything."
In sorrow, I beging to pray, and suddenly I realize exactly how the person who prayed for me must've felt. "Deliver them, Lord. Reveal the truth to them. Give them courage. Soothe their hearts in the process. So they can call others into more freedom too."
And then...then we move on, Jesus and I.
Do you see it? Do you see the walk? Do you understand? The rooms...they are our lives. They are the journey with Him, they are the path. Sometimes we build new rooms, places to commemorate all God has done in us, a memorial of our freedom. But we don't stay there. We are on the move. We pass through each other's rooms sometimes. Sometimes we walk through the same rooms at the same times our brothers and sisters, working together to know Him more, to leave behind words of encouragement and prayers for anyone who may pass through later. Sometimes we are hurt again, and we crawl into bed and cover ourselves and sit...and Jesus is kind. He is patient. He is gentle. He will sit with us, and soothe our hurts, and hold us while we bleed out pain.
But. If we stay too long...the pain becomes hardness, bitterness, un-forgiveness. And we can't feel Him at work anymore, because we are enveloped by this room and all it means.
He will send us people...people who have been here before, to remind us, to call us, to challenge us. And it will hurt. But, oh, He's faithful to use it all to guide us into more freedom.
To scoop us into His arms, even though it rips off chunks of flesh as He picks us up.
He whispers to us, calming our fears with His Word. And then...when we are ready, He leads us forward again.
We can decide to return to any room. Leave the light on so we can make it back if we want to, refuse to leave it behind altogether. But...why? Why do we do that? Is that sin, that hurt, that memory, that way we identify ourselves...is any of it REALLY worth it? If we are dragging remnants of our past rooms along behind us...it makes it so much harder to go new places.
Sometimes others will point that out too. "Do you know that you're walking forward, but you've got a rope around your waist, tied to a bunch of junk from past rooms? Don't you think it would be easier to move without it? Also...you're kind of causing chaos with that junk. It's banging around everywhere you go. How can you not see that?"
Oh, brothers and sisters. Can you see it? I pray that this will begin to resonate with you the way it has settled so deeply into me that I cannot stop gasping for air.
"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me...I am the way, the truth, and the life..." John 14:1, 6