Death of a Stronghold

I want out of here.  I am so cold.  It’s getting darker. Where did the light go?  The air feels heavy and oppressive.  It’s getting harder to breathe.  I can hardly see anything around me.  I reach out my hands to grasp the door.  My fingers brush across the handle, but it doesn’t budge.  I realize that I’ve been sealed in.  Heavy, awkward looking blocks are stacked in front of the door; seemingly tossed in random piles, but effectively blocking my escape. “Who did this?” I wonder.  I turn around and around surveying this place I’ve built for myself. Funny, I don’t remember it looking so bare, empty and void of life; like a grave.  There is nothing of me in this place.  What happened here?  I try to remember the last time I really saw it as it used to be when I first built it; strong, safe, impenetrable, as it was supposed to be; guarding my secrets.  It was a long time ago.  I allow my eyes to wander around the room and then I see them.  The boxes…a flicker of recognition snatches at my thoughts and the old feelings of terror and pain stir and begin to move toward the surface.  I see memories shimmering inside their tightly bound boxes where I banished them all that time ago.  “No, no,” I cry, “I can’t!”  “I can’t see you!”  Not yet…not yet…

My heart is pounding far too hard.  “I can’t…please don’t make me.” I am frozen, staring at the memories bumping up against the lids of the boxes, straining against the ropes I used to tightly bind them away out of sight.  They have been safely tucked away in this tower of heavy blocks I constructed for them. I worked so hard.

I can’t look at them. I am too afraid.  Then, in the silence, almost imperceptibly, I feel a stirring in the air.  It is like the faintest breeze, buoyant; like a soft feather dancing lightly against my bare skin.  I catch the scent of something wonderful! It smells new, clean and light.  Pure.  I know this scent, but can’t yet place it; it’s been so long since I’ve breathed it in.  In contrast, the stench of death, decay and emptiness in this place is overwhelming, yet cloying and familiar.  My imprisoned soul is drawn to the new, the clean, the light and I search for its origin.  Compelled by something supernatural, completely unexplainable, I find myself moving toward the boxes. I am right there, closer to them than I have been in ages.  Despite the desperate sinuous fear that is crowding me on all sides, I sense a shift in the air. It is lighter and I don’t feel crushed by the weight of it. I smell the beautiful scent again and it gives me courage.  There is a palpable change in the atmosphere now. I feel the gentle, sweet brush of feathers all around me and know I am safe. I slowly let myself be drawn in again. The stench of death and decay is very faint now, replaced by the scent of Heaven coming from the wings and feathers in which I find myself enfolded.  Your voice is huge, powerful and deep, yet gentle, quiet and sure.  “It is time.  Look at them now, child; open your boxes.”  “Only if You promise to stay. I cannot face them alone,” I whisper.  Strength flows into me that I know cannot be of me. I am all too familiar with the sense of my own failed strength.  Your voice reverberates through the very core of my being saying, “I alone am your refuge; your place of safety; I am your God and you will trust Me. I will shield you with My wings; I will shelter you with My feathers.  My faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Yes, Father, yes.

You place the frayed, weathered ropes that bind up my boxes of memories into my right hand.  I still have Your strength flowing through me, so I pull the ropes with all my might.  As the ropes slither to the ground, my memories, carefully hidden and preserved, gently dance and hover above the box tops, bidding me to look at them and release them.  Peace that I cannot understand washes over me and I go to the boxes, Your hand warm upon my head; feathers brushing my cheeks.  I inhale You and deeply breathe in Life.  I lift up my head and welcome the memories, and they come.  I look at each one as they come before me. I weep and cry out as I acknowledge them all; the violence, terror, pain and fear; the cruel words and hateful actions and slowly nod my head.  I feel You hold me tight and whisper to my spirit.  I am startled and struck silent as I feel the sweet warmth of Your tears spill onto my face as You weep for me.  You turn my face upwards and I watch my memories, my pain, my loss ascending to Heaven, where You will take them and re-shape them to be used for Your glory.  “Is it done, Father?” I say.  “What about these walls of heavy blocks you constructed to protect your pain?” “Is it not time to tear that down, too, Daughter?”  “Do you really want to be free?”  You take my hands and turn them over. They are calloused and rough, from all those exhausting years of building my stronghold.  I watch in awe, as Your breath, Your right hand, begins to smooth away the hardness, the deep grooves and scales, revealing new skin underneath, that glows with life, energy and health. New life is here, in this place that was seeped in death and emptiness.  In the next moment, my attention is caught by a sound, unlike anything I have ever heard before.  It starts as a deep, low rushing, and then begins to spiral upwards, like a roar, like a violent storm and I fear I can’t stand up under the enormity of it.  It is too much for me to bear and I close my eyes, barely breathing.  As quickly as it came, it is gone.  There is peace; blessed silence, as I rest safely in the shadow of Your wings.  The roar is replaced by the most beautiful song I have ever heard, being sung above me, all around me.  I cannot understand the words being spoken; it is too lofty for me, but something deep in my spirit awakens and responds. I am utterly captivated.  I feel so light, so new, so clean!  As I raise my arms in praise and abandon to my Father, I see that I am free! The walls I built are no more, the boxes are gone, the air is clean, and the Light is back.  Gingerly, I begin walking where once the walls of my self imposed prison stood tall. I notice only a slight indentation, like a scar, left there; an indication of where the pit of my captivity had once been.  Today is the day I traded my stronghold for a strong tower.  As I soak in the song You sing over me, Your voice becomes imprinted on my heart, “I am the Lord Your God, I am with you, I am mighty to save.  I will take great delight in you, I will quiet you with My love, I will rejoice over you with singing.”

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