I open my hands. Expecting. But my heart is closed, the distractions pulling me. Yanking me for attention. And I give it to them. Willingly. Gladly. Blindly. I close my hands, my heart now jammed shut. I turn my back and seek the affirmation, the comfort of public praise.
It doesn’t come. I turn again and open my hands. I cry, the distractions pulling me. Give in? Yes, because this time the comfort of empty affirmation will come. It doesn’t feel empty though. It feels wholesome, nutritious, as though I need it. To be happy. And maybe it has even come to that.
I give in again, my hands balled in fists, my heart sinking lower beneath the noise—bolted. I seek and scrounge for the praise, the confirmation. Why do they not care? Where is the affirmation?
I am dizzy, but I turn again. Open my hands. Expecting. Though, my heart is closed. “GOD! WHY DO I FEEL LIKE THIS?!”
Blind-sided. Because darts and lies are attacking me, the ones I did not expect–but ones I should have known were coming. Open hands, a closed heart? Ears turned to the crowd and not the Lord? Of course, the pull would be stronger than I.
“GOD! This has never been a struggle before! Why am I so weak?” But I don’t listen to His prompting, the distractions are too loud, the desire for affirmation–empty though it may be—is wrapped tight around me. The potential affirmation is deafening. I am turning. Turning. Toward God, then my back to Him. Toward God, than my back to Him. Toward. Back. Open hands, closed heart. Deaf ears, busy mind.
I am in a prison. Barred by desires all my own, locked with the selfishness of my heart. I cower in the corner, cry, tattered edges of confidence, cracking joy not true. Walls coming closer. Of my own doing? I don’t know, the noise is too loud, the attacks too quick, too destructive. My heart is weary, bones are crushed.
I pull the distractions off my body and shove them through the bars of my prison. I want to get better, but I have to hear. I want to heal, but I have to release. I pull the needles from my skin, the punctures…open, bleeding. I shove them through the bars. Pushing. Pushing. Out. The deafening quiet is now around me.
I can hear something so faint. But the layers are still heavy upon me. Though the distractions are peeled away, I am cut and bleeding. The wounds open, spilling out. I feel the prison walls closer, even as the faint sound becomes clearer. I pull myself into a tight ball, the silence somewhat freeing, but the clutches, the wounds still heavy about me.
I need rescued. But from what? The echoes answer around the dank cell. “Yourself. Yourself. Yourself. You need rescued from yourself.” My heart slowly opens, my hands still at my side.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
My heart opens, broken. I am confessing the sin, seeping from the cracks. “Forgive my selfishness. Forgive my jealousy. Forgive my self-pity. Forgive my thirst for the empty praise of others. Forgive my self-righteousness. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Oh, God! Forgive me.”
Grace is for the willing. I am willing. My heart is broken, cracks ever widening. My hands open and I push them through the prison bars, but the prison bars are falling away. God’s forgiveness. I stand in tattered clothes, heart broken, fresh wounds drying blood, blistered hands—waiting. But I do not have to wait. Because God’s grace is ever ready for me–when I am willing to receive—His grace covers me.
Falling over me, drenching my weary body, spilling over, abundant life, victory, healing grace! Dry blood disappearing, wounds closed up, blisters bursting and healing, clothes mending, heart still broken–yet full! So full. God’s grace has filled it up. God’s love has overflowed the rooms.
The bars are long gone, the cell wide open to sunrise, the walls falling through the earth, my legs have strength–they dance for His grace. I can hear the trees rustling, the birds chirping. I am spinning in smiles and laughter—sweet freedom. When the inside changes, the outward appearance does too–oh blessed joy!
My head tilts up, hands extended to the sky—the distractions buried with my cell—the love of a Savior clothing my body. “Grace, grace—God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within! Grace, grace—-God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin!” I fall in a glorious heap to the ground, exhausted with joy. And yet joy and life abounds!