As I was sitting in prayer time during church service this weekend, this is the story that played in my mind. It is inspired in part by a poem I wrote many years ago. (Which I won’t share because it is terrible 😉 ) Sometimes the hardest fight is the war against yourself.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She’d heard all the stories about Jesus, and she loved Him. Every night, she prayed, but heaven seemed so far away.
As she grew, she made an astounding discovery. He wasn’t as unreachable as she’d once thought. She could get closer to the one who had laid down his life for her, who was all goodness and power and strength. So she ran to Him. She danced along the wilderness path filled with beauty and wonder, reveling in his thickening presence the further she chased after Him.
On she went, drawing nearer to Jesus, until one day she crashed face first into a wall. Holding her aching forehead she stood, sizing up the thing in her path. Was this as far as she was allowed to go? Was there a limit on how close she could be to Jesus? She stared into the heavens trying to decipher the wall’s summit. With a trembling hand she touched its bleached surface. Smooth, firm. She tapped the wall. A brittle hum vibrated, not unlike two eggs rolling together on the countertop.
If she couldn’t go over, perhaps, she could go around. Hand to the wall, she walked, stepping over roots, and dodging brambles, looking for the end. She continued until her shoes chaffed her ankles. She’d traveled in circles. This wall had no beginning or end. It was very much like an eggshell, indeed. And if it was an eggshell, it could be broken. Bolstered, the young woman faced the wall, and said, “I will get through you.”
She raised her clenched hand, summoning all her strength, visualizing her fist puncturing the hull. When her knuckles made contact, a sound reverberated in the vast expanse, but there was not a mark on the wall. She shook her throbbing hand, and looked for a stone. Choosing a smooth rock that filled her palm, she tossed it in the air, testing its weight. This would do.
She squared her hips to pitch, and then heaved the stone at the alabaster barricade. The same hollow sound echoed. She dove sideways as the ricochet sent the rock from where it came. Angry, she flung anything she could find at the wall that stood between her and Jesus, until exhausted she sank to her knees on the rocky ground.
Tears of frustration streamed down her face unchecked. What was this place with its fragile wall she was powerless to break? She stood and walked to the wall, and pressed both hands to the surface. Her voice came out raspy from tears. “Hello?”
“Yes my beloved, I am here.”
Her heart skittered in her chest. The voice was muffled, but so near. Did her ears deceive her? “Hello? Jesus?”
“Yes, my beloved. I am here.”
The young woman pressed as hard as she could into the wall, sure she could feel the warmth of his hands pressing from the other side. She strained her eyes, imagining she could see the outline of his form. Weary, she sank to her knees, laid her cheek against the wall listening for his voice, and drifted to sleep.
He was right there. Why could she not get through? Days upon days she strived to penetrate the wall, to no avail. The unchanging stronghold glared down, mocking. If only she were strong enough, better, braver, wiser, she would be able to get closer to Jesus. How could she be too weak to break something as thin as an eggshell?
If this was as close as she was going to get to Jesus, she decided to make the best of what she had. She dug up the stones, and pulled away the brambles. She pruned the hedges, and cleared overgrowth from around the bubbling spring. She planted and tended new growth.
The young woman wasn’t a prisoner. She could go back the way she came, but that only put her further from Jesus. Life went on. She made daily visits to the wall, laying her head against the cool surface, straining her ears for the sound of His voice. Hating the fixed veil between them, but learning to appreciate what she had.
Every time she called out to Him, His reply returned muffled by the barrier. “Yes, my beloved. I am here.”
Was that really what He said? Wasn’t He frustrated with her failure to break through?
One day, as she strolled along the wall, a brittle crack pealed. The ground rumbled beneath her feet. She went rigid as her gaze darted along the unending white expanse. “Jesus?” she whispered.
Another splintering crack rang out, making her gut twist with fear. Ten feet above her head a fissure appeared. A fat drop of water slipped through. An eerie groaning filled the air as the crack zigged to the ground. The wall shivered. What pressed in from the other side? Perhaps the shell was to her advantage after all.
Trembling, she wanted to run away, but stayed frozen to the spot. She’d been there long enough to know Jesus was just on the other side, no matter what happened.
The world shattered. Rushing water pounded down, filling her nose and mouth. A flood of frigid grief and hurt, loss and destruction. Death. Getting closer to Jesus was not supposed to feel like this. It was supposed to be all warmth, and hope, and love.
Desperate, she flung her arms skyward, and cried out from her gut, “Jesus! I need you!” as water filled her mouth. No matter how the wind and waves buffeted, she kept her arms overhead, reaching. Blinded by the intensity of the storm, the world had no up or down. Still she reached, until her arms made contact with something solid and warm. Fixed like an anchor.
She held on with all her might as everything around her was swept away.
The storm ceased. The flood receded. Finally, she had the courage to to open her eyes. She stared at her hands clutched white-knuckled to a linen garment. She lifted her chin to look in the eyes of the man that held her. “Jesus?”
“Yes, my beloved. I am here.”
It terrifies her a little, that wild vulnerable feeling that now throbs in her heart. There is no eggshell wall around her. When she used to lift her voice in worship, she would worry if she was “getting it right.” Now, though the room is full of people, to her there is only Jesus. Her unguarded heart sends tears like a rushing flood every time. He’s wrecked her through and through.
It took a storm to tear down her walls, but now she fully knows that with Jesus, she needs no defense, only to hold on. Even if life sweeps everything away, she’ll still be holding on to the one thing she needs.