Written on January 27, 2016. By Shari Norvell
A bit breathless, she made her way around the last turn and into the final stretch of a three mile jaunt, amazed that she had actually completed it. She laughed a bit to herself at that description. Jaunt. A journey for pleasure. That was not how she had viewed the walk when she began. But now, she felt the joy of it surround her.
She was spurred to make the trek at all because of the invitation she had received last night and her need to discover if she should RSVP or not. After debating with herself all day, she recognized the need for an answer was beyond her. Her need led to a desire to be with Pappa. Actually to walk with Him and let Him fill her with His heart, step by step.
She had lived in her condo for two years and not once set foot on the walking trail her deck overlooked. Until today. She thought of how often she had peered into things, looking them over, but never entering in, throughout her life. Maybe today would be the mark of a shift. The day bravery beckoned her.
So she took the walk, discovering treasure after treasure along the way. She had no idea the trail wound through groves of trees and over a booming brook. And she lost count of how many different birds serenaded her along the way. Though she chided herself for the breaks she took to catch her breath upon little benches hidden just off the path, she knew they were sweet rest stops, placed there not for recovering but receiving.
The answer had come. Yes, He had certainly come. And she knew beyond knowing that she was going to RSVP. She would attend, every day, from this day on. And her life would never be the same. It would be bigger than she ever thought the boundaries she placed would allow. And so she had learned it was with the Answer. He had a way of bringing up questions when one least expected and then revealing the desire for the answer to them from heart spots tender and untamed.
She was feeling victorious as she stepped upon her little porch. Then she noticed something was amiss. Her door was slightly ajar. Quickly, her mind recalled the letter from the Home Owners Association, placed in her mailbox a few days ago. It detailed some thefts that had taken place within the community and stated that “there was a thief on the loose.” She found the wording a bit dramatic. Until she found herself part of the drama, not yet knowing what she would find inside.
She swung the door open boldly, making much noise, in case there was someone to scare away. When no noise met hers, she felt safe to cross her threshold. Immediately, she noticed the empty spaces. Voids where things had once been. She swiftly made a mental list of what was taken. TV, sound system and computer.
She reached for her phone. She should call someone. But she realized she could not quite summon her voice, for it was drowning in the seeping, swirling storm of emotions swelling from the deep inside her. The place she didn’t dive into often. Anger, despair, vengeance all tinged with a bit of fear.
After some deep breaths, single words began to escape. “Why? How?” They began to come with force, like bullets from a gun. It was then she realized, she had become a weapon. One that the person who come in without permission could use without even being there.
That’s when the vision invaded. Jesus, cloven to a cross between two thieves. While every part of Him poured out, so did His compassion. He declared that they didn’t know what they had done. They didn’t even know they were thieves. Until this moment, she hadn’t realized she was either. For as much as she wanted to cry “thief!” at the top of her lungs, the one at large in this moment was her.
The squall of emotions calmed, becoming currents of remembrance. How many times had she, through her own pain and wounds, convinced someone to think differently of one that had hurt her? She had stolen reputation, name, in order to draw another to her opinion for the sake of her own vindication. How often had she pulled out her uneven scales to weigh another in order to protect herself? Under cover of darkness, she had swept in and taken something precious. The gift of a person placed in her life, to stretch and extend her.
Suddenly, she saw herself upon a cross. She clung there desperately. Then His voice. ‘Father, she knew not what she was doing.” Undone, she wept. How many times had Jesus spoken that over her, every thing pouring out of Him? Had she really been so unaware of His redemption? For even when she didn’t know, she couldn’t see, He was there, securing her redemption. Sacrificed, so she could turn straight into His open arms.
Returned from her own fall shorts, she cried out for those of another. “I forgive the one who took because he doesn’t know he has. I forgive the one who took my belongings, but could never steal my gain. I forgive the one who grabbed greedily to fill the emptiness inside. I forgive him, for he knew not what he was doing.”
When the last word of redemption left her lips, she saw the most remarkable, miraculous thing. The ring she was given last night, sparkling and shining from the box left open on her kitchen bar. Next to it, the card of invitation and promise. It was there for the taking. Yet it remained. “Pappa” was all she could say. It was all she needed to say. The Answer for her question, there before she asked. “Because you said yes” He whispered.
She wept again, grateful and knowing what she hadn’t know before. A yes, no matter how rasping or roaring, guards the gate and keeps the invitation and the promise within, secure.
Let Pappa reveal to you, things you have unknowingly stolen. And then return them, along with your heart, through repentance. Cling to your cross, as you allow what He did on His to completely redeem and resurrect you.
Ask Pappa to show you anyone you allowed to be a thief to you. One who may have taken something that belonged to you, but truly could never take your gain. Forgive them and imagine them off of their cross too.