Monday, May 6, 2013

The Little Girl Inside

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed (perfect) love banishes all fear. 
1 John 4:18 [MSG]

     An expanse of green grass and rolling hills touches a horizon of pale blue sky. A large hand reaches down out of the heavens. The little girl in her summer dress reaches upward, her hand so very small as it tucks inside His, wrapped in a sense of safety that is palpable.

     A concrete pathway winding through fields of brightly colored flowers, they are walking and holding hands—the little girl in her summer dress and her companion, Jesus. Every time she looks up at him he is looking down at her, his focus only on her. The sparkle in his eyes tells her that she captivates him, and his smile communicates his delight in her. Their laughter is limitless; their giggles the sweetest sound to her ears. This pathway is theirs alone, but even if throngs of other people surrounded them, she would only hear his words. His voice fascinates her—every word feels wrapped in tender confidence. There is no place she would rather be than here with him, anywhere with him.

     They sit together on a black, wrought iron park bench, the little girl in her summer dress and her Jesus. She is tucked into the crook of his arm looking up at his face as he tells her a story. He loves to tell her stories, and they always seem to make her laugh. She can tell that he loves when she laughs because when she does he always turns his eyes to look right into hers … and then he laughs right back. And, oh, how she loves to watch him when he laughs at his own stories. His cheeks turn the slightest shade of pink and his chuckle makes her want to snuggle in even deeper underneath his arm. He never tells her the same story twice.

     Hand in hand they skip along, the little girl in her summer dress and her best friend, Jesus. Their feet are bare in the tender, moss green grass and the breeze feels good on their cheeks. She loves when they skip because even though his legs are much longer than hers he always purposes to keep her stride.

     The morning air is cool but the sun’s rays are warm and comforting. He is carrying her piggyback style, the little girl in her summer dress, with feet dangling at his sides. Her head is turned sideways, cheek pressed against his back, listening to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. On this walk they don’t speak; they don’t need words, just each other—quiet and peaceful. This is some of her favorite time with him, and she can feel her heart smile.

Over the past several years—during worship or prayer—I’ve had multiple visions play out of Jesus and me. Always I am a little girl about five in a yellow summer dress with white stripes and an eyelet ruffle that touches just above my knees. Always we are outdoors, and always he holds my hand. Sometimes we just walk together and talk; he never runs out of questions. Sometimes we run around and play tag until we can’t catch our breath. Sometimes he takes my hands and spins me around until I’m parallel to the ground, feet flying straight out behind me. Sometimes we just hold hands and skip, our arms swinging wildly back and forth. And sometimes we just listen—listen to the sounds around us; we can hear everything.

"When she was little she lived."

Bob Hamp wrote this line in an article for Destiny In Bloom titled Somewhere Inside You She Lives. (If you haven't already read it, please head there after you're done here. It's a MUST read.)

Those six words spoke to the softest, squishiest place inside my heart—that place untouched by harsh words, rejection, decisions against my will and decisions I made against myself as the enemy’s lies became my truth, time and time again. That place that Jesus has purposed to show me time and time again: the heart of that little girl, all of five, always wearing her yellow and white summer dress. A pure heart—unbroken and undamaged by years of life and choices that were sometimes hers, sometimes not. A heart that fully trusts, fully engages, fully delights, fully lives and fully loves.

In this current season, Jesus is stripping me of the layers of life that have become bricks I have used over the years to build a wall of protection around my heart. It’s both a little bit scary and also a little bit intimidating, but I decided to dive in because a few months ago Jesus showed me something else: he showed me 'me' and he showed me the word 'unchosen'.

In this vision I had a brick in one hand and a trowel in the other. With every word spoken or deed done that I could define as 'against me', I would pick up a brick already labeled unchosen and build my wall. On the other side of this wall was Jesus, and just as fast as I could place a new brick in its place he was taking one down. The fact that he showed me a brick wall was not surprising. I’ve spent years becoming familiar with this particular protection device. What shocked me was the additional understanding he revealed: my brick wall wasn’t only shielding my heart from people, it was also a personally erected barricade between Jesus' heart and mine.

A broken and fearful heart in constant process of building any type of barrier—in the name of protecting itself against the words or actions of others—will also insulate itself from the very thing that was sent to heal it: Perfect Love.

I’m pursuing the unguarded love known by the little girl in her summer dress. Who or what is Jesus asking you to pursue?

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