When we lived in Galveston there was a long hot season when it felt like the light on my insides had gone out. The sun shown hotter than hell in Texas but internally I felt like my heart had grown a thorn bush around it. Getting to it was incredibly painful.
A friend and I met for coffee and she told me about a novel she had read. In it, a man is tormented by the darkness of the world. So much so that he walked perpetually bent over with sharp talons lodged deep into his shoulders. “The love of Jesus,” she told me, “slowly removes those talons, one by one.”
While out for a jog a few weeks later I kept thinking about that image and felt within me a boldness to ask for a replacement one. “God,” I said, with certainty. “I feel those talons in my shoulders too. And if you wouldn’t mind I kindly ask you to…kick the ever loving shit out of them. None of this one at a time business! And,” I continued confidently. “Please let me know when you’re done.” I left it at that, possessing this all too rare confidence that He would answer in a way that I would understand.
Months later, I had a dream that I was in Ocean City where my family vacations most years. A devious man with bad intentions took my four year old hand, full of innocence, and walked me down the boardwalk and off to an isolated place where no one could see us. Just as he prepared to take advantage of me, an unsuspecting child, Andy and my Dad slammed open the back door of the building we were behind with a force that surprised us both. The two of them pummeled the dark man to death with fists and elbows and body slams for what seemed like hours. They were still going at it when I opened my eyes.
Sometimes I fail to grasp the love that I’m told God has for me. I’ve spent a long time thinking that God expects a perfection from me that I can’t begin to deliver. But Andy? My Dad? These two imperfect men have given me their lives, and I know it down to the bottom of me. One when I was very small. And one when he said “I do. Come what may.”
And so, in His own way, God let me know that from the moment I was very small until this present moment that I stand in that He has been kicking down doors and beating up devils to get to me. I still often feel like I have talons lodged into my shoulders. This is probably because I am a lot like the man in the novel – I look out into the world and see suffering and wonder about the love of God in the midst of such misery in the world. Yet I’m finding that God is faithful to answer in any number of ways when I’m responsive to the nudge within that says to stop looking at the pain and to look up and out to the One who can take me to the other side of them. Little by little I come back to the place where I started from as a small child. I remember that I am loved.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you…”
Isaiah 43: 1-4