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Friday, February 27, 2015

My Simple Surrender

Kings go to war in the spring, so the Bible says, and these rose bushes and I have battled in this garden for nearly two decades, and it’s spring again. I pull thick gloves over my hands because skin isn't glove enough. I dig through the stack of shovels, rakes, a utility broom, a fence post hole digger, and "Where are the pruning shears?"

"You ask that every spring, hon." The Master Gardener leans all comfortable against the garage wall, crosses His strong arms and laced work boots and I hear that lazy smile of His. He's just fine watching me. I'm His girl and, yeah, He knows where the shears are but He's content to watch me look for them.

"Ha!" I find them and hold them up victorious.

"Let's go get 'em," He draws the words out like this is no big deal. But then, He's been pruning the likes of me for nearly half a century.

I scamper ahead of Him. Uhuh, scamper. Pink toenails, blue flip-flops with sparkly gems on the straps, and I march to war waving the shears. He saunters behind me. He offered to carry them for me, but I am woman. 

The garden gate sticks a little rusty. I lift the latch, kick it open and I'm feeling it, "Oorah!"

"Okaaay, Ms. Marine," the Gardener-Warrior lifts an eye brow and just shakes His head.

I lift the shears toward the nearest rose bush. "Uh," I falter. It's a different war this spring. I'll still get thorned. The thorns will rip this old t-shirt and draw blood. It happens every spring like this and for nearly twenty years these roses have flourished brilliant with a beauty King Solomon would have bled for.

But this spring I'm not pruning. I'm cutting down. They've gone rogue. I watched it happen. Just right here, and from the kitchen window over the sink, I watched. And I've pruned the wild growth over springs and falls till first freezes. Pruned like this for years, but wild can be relentless. Wild can take over. And it did, The shiny dark green leaves turned crinkly dull crimson, and the full open blooms turned shriveled and small.

Wild can ignore the fervent, "Repent! Oh, repent!" plea from gardener heart. And unrepentant wild is too proud unruly to fear the gardener.

Pruning Shears

"Why?" I ask the One whose words plowed and planted the first garden. I turn to face Him and His eyes ask again to carry the shears. I nod silent. They’re too heavy and He understands the weight. I release the shears, and turn to the rose bushes. 

"You were so beautiful," I say it to myself. "I rejoiced over your beauty. I walked to you just to breathe in your fragrance and your beauty captivated me when the storms swallowed the very breath from the air itself till it turned green in the face; but you were radiant red translucent.”

I remember their iridescence. I remember my own breath intake when they took it away for a moment. I ask again, “Why? Why did they trade their beauty for ashes?”

The Master Gardener hands me the shears.

“I don’t understand, Lord.” The shears hang heavy and so does my question.

“If the root is holy, so are the branches.” I recognize the words He speaks, and would find them later.

I lift the shears, plunge them into the soil, and they support my weight as I sink slow to bare knees on rough dirt and it bites a little, but I don’t regret the shorts and t-shirt. I want to feel what’s happening.

I press my knee into a stray thorn and it draws blood. I go lower, place shears at root, pry the blades wide open mouthed, and they bite clean through the cane. They fall one by one like this; cane by cane in a tangle of canes, and bush by bush in a row of bushes.

The Master Gardener is silent. I feel His presence. I concentrate; “Separate the rogue from the root,” and He consecrates me like this, as I do the work of it.

My arms are getting shaky tired. I steady the shears, pry them open and, “Is this what this is about?” I ask Him. “Is this about doing consecration? So I know what it feels like?”

I pause before making another cut. “It hurts, Lord. It hurts to do this.”

He knows the pain of pruning and cutting.

Slowly and rumpled I stand up and brush dirt off my knees. Rogue canes sheet the garden bed. They are dying, and at my hand. They sipped from the wild root and became wild and I must ask this Gardener, “How does that happen?”

He’s quiet. I get the feeling He’s already told me how, I just haven’t stopped to follow His words. I do now.

“If the root is holy,” my iPhone is on the garden bench and I google the words.

Romans chapter eleven visits the screen. “If the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches.”

I get it. I’m grafted. At the union I’m the wild bud grafted into the holy root. I read about this, and learn that roses go wild when the graft fails. “But holy never fails, Lord,” I ponder out loud.

“Remember that you do not support the root.” He speaks Romans 11:18 in response and it takes some thinking to get what He’s saying. “The root supports you,” He completes the thought.

“But branches break off. People fall like rogue canes. And holy never fails. It just never fails,” I’m stuck. My brain is stiff.

“Well said.”

“Really?” What did I say, again?

He reminds me; “Branches break off.”

“Oh, yeah. Annnd?” I hint.

“Because of unbelief they were broken off.” He picks up on my hint for more help and the air in my lungs leaves. Just up and leaves. I've never understood what He’s said as I think I’m understanding it now.

“Uh, Lord?” I venture. Canes lay fallen all around me.

He follows my eyes and sees what I’m nervous to ask because the question is stickery.

“They stopped drawing life from the holy root.” He fearlessly answers the question I’m too afraid to ask. He continues without apology, “Do not be haughty, but fear. For if I did not spare the natural branches, I may not spare you either. Consider My goodness and severity; on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in My goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for I am able to graft them in again.” It’s a fearsome explanation, but I get it. For once, I get it.

“I get it! I really think I do!” And strangely I’m excited to understand something I’d otherwise not want to have to understand. But I do have to. I have to because I've just cut branches down. Cut whole bushes down. And I’m going to be burning the roots because they’re just all wild now, through and through. The grafts have failed and entire bushes are now rogue and there is nothing cultivated left.

“Lord!” I look at the tangled mass and pick up the Romans conversation we've been having, “If I was cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and was grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”

“Many will say to Me ‘Lord, Lord.’ And I will say to them, ‘I never knew you.’” His word hangs heavy. And didn't the Word hang heavy and didn't darkness hang heavy at mid-day when the Word breathed His last breath on the cross and souls just gasped as the Life died for the breathing crowd whose souls might die though some of them would be among those pleading, “Didn't we prophesy, and cast out demons, and do many wonders in Your name?” He did hang like that.

I’m silent. He’s silent. And the air between us is breathless

I go to my knees because I’m being pruned right here and I’d rather fall broken than be broken off. “Lord, Lord,” I begin, “many think You know them. I, too. I, too, think You know me.”

I sit back on me heels, and pause all still amid the stillness. It’s so still. The canes aren't rubbing; the tiny insects aren't walking their tiny steps along them, and there’s a nest from last year still clinging to canes now on the ground.

“I fear You,” I whisper. And something happens inside me. Freedom happens. It’s unexpected. It doesn't make sense.


“How is this so, Lord?” I wonder at the freedom, yet I feel so free that I can’t think of why anyone wouldn't fear Him raw and real. “Why would anyone be afraid to fear You? Truly, You are fearsome. Why do so many refuse to feel the truth? Why have I, until now?”

I look around me, and I know why I feel free. It’s not because I've memorized the verse, “The truth will set you free,” but it’s because of something deeper and kind of rough-hewn. It’s because I've been pricked by thorns and the truth itself is grafted into fallen creation. It’s because broken canes are slated and the roots are smoldering beneath white hot coals and gasp smoky, “Fear Him, the Holy God. Fear the One who is able to kill both soul and body.”

I wince, and the words pierce my soul as thorns prick skin.

The Master Gardener waits by the gate and I’m certain He’s praying for me. I pick up a cane and turn it over in my gloved hand. “You were just so beautiful,” I whisper as it dies. I count the eyes on the sleeping cane and then close my own eyes, “I see. It’s right here in my garden.”  

I remember when I was grafted into the holy root. “If a cultivated rose bush can backslide till it bears fruit from the wild root, then so can I,” I confess. “You grafted me in, but the wild root is still there. You grafted me in, but I can go rogue.”

I tug my glove off, touch an eye on the cane I hold, as if to close it. I return the cane to the soil. “I consecrate my life to the graft. I will work out my salvation with fear and trembling today.” I say it out loud, and something else. I surrender the notion that I can sip occasionally from the wild root, bear fruit for God, and never hear Him say, “I never knew you.” Sip like this and bear deceptive fruit. Only God can’t be deceived. I can.

I fear God because His nature is not without a truth that pricks my soul and rips away the notions I wear. But the thing is that I have nothing to fear when I fear Him like this.

I reach for the shears and pick a path through thorns. “The way is truly narrow,” a thorn snags my ankle. I feel it as if my Spirit has ankles just as surely as it has feet. It must, because I’m walking, my spirit by His Spirit. And I’m finding the narrow way. And surrendering to it.


I want to be known by the Master who is waiting at the gate.

He waits.

My muscles are tired, my ankle stings, and I drag the shears. “I work out my salvation with fear and trembling, You know.” I talk as He opens the garden gate and leads me to the patio, “And somehow it’s the happiest way I've found to live.” I lean the shears against a rake and we talk shop in the garage.

I’m no theologian; but I know my cultivated roses turned out wild and I know I could, too.

Here is my simple surrender.

I don’t fear a failed graft. I fear the One who makes the graft.

I’m not confused by the debates about salvation and security. I’m confined to work out my salvation with trembling and I can find no other way.

And may I flower iridescent in storms that shake me to the roots on this earthen soil.

“Lord, Lord, know me. Lead me to Your courts one day.” I say it because maybe the most miraculous wonder I’ll ever do in His name is to bloom brightest when storms suck air from air and from my lungs; and when I pause in a holy selah moment long enough to say, “I fear You real with no apologies come what may; and I love You all the more for it.”

I say this right now, right here in the garage; and the Master Gardener pulls His gloves off, smiles slow, and His eyes shine, “Enter My gates with thanksgiving.” He leads me to the patio, “Enter My courts with praise.”

“May I be a happy rose blooming for You,” I look up at Him simply happy. His words are like a holy kiss.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Lent Journey

I made this crown of thorns and placed the passage from Luke 4 in the center for Lent. "Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit...was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Lk. 4:1).
He was tempted forty days by the devil. He was beautiful in the Father's eyes, but a scrubby desert shrub in man's. "And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:3).
The sun would've crossed the desert sky daily, and burned heavy on His back; as would the sin's of this world and the sin's of the likes of me,wilderness wanderer and foreigner in this world.
The weight of sin would burn heavy on His flogged back till a foreigner would carry the cross for Him. I wonder, did he, Simon of Cyrene, feel the weight of his own sin by the time he bore the cross to Calvary? I pick up my cross today.

Lent Crown
Jesus would've felt pelting sand stab like thorns on a cactus. Or on a crown? I repent today. I live it. I feel it.
I press a forth candle into the crown.
A crown of thorns was pressed on His head; the saving Light of the world bled.
Light bleeds into the darkness and weeps like wax.
"The Light of the world has overcome. The Light of the world has taken away the sins of the world. Amen."
I'm meditating on Luke 4 and Isaiah 53 jointly. I'm adding a candle a day and the crown of thorns will be a crown of light all glory burn on Resurrection Sunday! It's a powerful spiritual journey. Join me on twitter? I'm tweeting daily.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Held You When Your Mother's Belly Was Rounded Full

PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart-The Devotional
Supplement to Chapter 4

"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:16-17).

I'm straddling the window sill, one leg hangs outside and one inside, and I'm pressing one vertebrae at a time into a half twist my yoga instructor would be proud of.  Her voice is balanced and sounds like what flexibility looks like, "Now inhale and draw the breath over the back of the throat. Open your chest wide and increase the blood flow. Now, find one focal point." I found mine already. That's why I'm twisting halfway out the window I opened. "Now exhale and, if possible, deepen the stretch." I lean further clutching my iPhone. I put it in camera mode because this evening sun is lacing fluid yellow and entwining shadows that seem to twist right off the peach tree and branch across the words "believe, trust, hope" I painted last year on the top, middle, and bottom rungs on my Pisteuo gate.

I touch the camera screen to zoom in and these days I don't snap a photo, but what? My iPhone isn't crude like the old Pentax with the zoom lens growing ancient on my closet shelf, but sleek and silent with no dangling lenses, and filters, and camera bag heavier than my purse with a strap that straddles my chest till and I couldn't think of half twists out open windows.

I take the picture quickly because the sun moves fast, ready to call it a day at 5:45. She lays down and pulls a sheet over herself; veils her light till it's filtered gray and soft.

A dove, gray and soft too, is silhouette perched pregnant. It seems the air just folds as felt over feather and tucks beneath her full rounded belly. And the Lord just holds in His hands this rounded earth, full of life.

He's got the whole world in His hands. All things that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. Life and death, hades and heaven. Every dove, every sparrow, every dawn, dusk, sun, moon, star, and every hair that's on my head. "He's got you and me brother, in His hands; He's got you and me sister, in His hands; He's got the whole world in His hands."

It's child's song, but I still sing it to preserve child-like faith because doesn't He say that His kingdom is made up of those who believe with child-like faith? He does. And doesn't it seem that the fuller the head gets, the emptier the heart can get? It can happen to grown ups and disciples and I'm both. I'm wary, because I'm no less prone than the disciples to tighten my chest, constrict my heart, and clamp down saying the likes of what the disciples said to those bringing their infants to be touched by Jesus.

I look at the pregnant dove outside my kitchen window, "Lord, You never tire of welcoming infants into Your kingdom." I look at the limb she's resting on and, "Lord, Your arms never tire of holding me."

"I held you when your mother's belly rounded full. I held you when your friend perched in My arms as this dove perches, expectant." He's quiet for a moment as we look at the dove softer gray in dusk's sheet. "She brought you to Me like that, and I held you;" He whispers the memory.

My iPhone is still in camera mode, and I look through the lens. It probably won't come out, but still I take the picture. Gray on gray silhouette of pregnant dove. Symbol of peace resting on love. That's how I see the branch in the dusk; as the arm of love.

"The eternal God is your refuge," the verse comes from way back when I memorized it as a teen, "and underneath are the everlasting arms." I don't remember where that is in the Bible. I google for the reference and find more. "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds."

"Ahh! Oh, Lord! I think I've just watched You ride the heavens and the clouds like this;" I breathe it out just all "Ahh," because  maybe the evening sun isn't pulling up the sheets but is tucking in beneath the the train of God's robe as He takes His evening ride across the heavens and removes shadows till the painted white "believe, trust, hope" on the isteuo gate, and the pregnant dove, are silhouette. This pisteuo gate. This pregnant dove. This soft gray and this absence of shadows.  I have only four words. Faith, hope, love, and peace.

Just faith, hope, love; these three; but the greatest of these is love. Just peace because the resurrected Christ breathed, "Peace to you! Receive the Holy Spirit," and may I say, impregnated the disciples to make disciples and present them through baptism? The dove sits so full.

"Love covers shadows. Love covers sin and," He continues, "sin left uncovered casts shadows as long and deep as the valley of the shadow of death."

I make the dove out in the gray and I can't read the words on my pisteuo gate but I know them by heart, and "Love is pregnant with faith and hope" filters soft right out from my heart.

"And love is the grace that saves," He adds to my thought.

"And, Lord," my eyes are fixed on this pregnant dove as my thoughts form. "The mothers brought their infants to You. They brought their infants in child-like faith and You say that all mothers who continue in faith and love will be saved through childbearing." It's somewhere in Timothy. I look it up. It's 1 Timothy 2:15. I don't really know what it all means. Just that the pain of childbearing is the curse passed down from Eve, and the valley of the shadow of death isn't what I thought it was and that, somehow, this is all okay because what's outside my kitchen window is profoundly beautiful with life in this valley.

"I've never seen this before, Lord, but there's only one valley and one shadow." It's singular in His word. One. Valley of the shadow of death. And may I read this verse as, "Though I walk through this life, I will fear no evil, for You are with me?" Because maybe the valley is this life lived under the shadow of the curse of death. I'm not in this valley only when I feel the shadow dangerous. And I'm not out from it when I feel the shadow lift. The shadow was cast down when Adam and Eve were cast out.

I don't experience the curse passed onto men through Adam, but I have experienced the curse through Eve and it's part of pushing through life, and pushing life through.

I remember another verse; "The just shall live by faith."

The just. Live. By faith. "Lord, who are the just?" The likes of me is still grasping faith and I can't exactly say who the just are. But if they live by faith, then I want to know. "Who are they?"

I google the question plain and simple, "Who are the just in the Bible?" And, "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4).

"The just look for faith," He nods toward the pisteuo gate, "and always ask Me, 'Show me more?'"

The gate is hinged on truth and isn't the Truth the Anointed One? The just must have an anointing. Surely they are described in 1 John 2:20, "You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know the truth." The just know the truth, and keep the gate open asking to be shown more.

"Lord?" I hope He understands my silent question.

He does understand. "Trust enough to open the gate. Don't draw back. Believe to the saving of our soul; it's your hope. Open the gate and obtain a good testimony." I know this language by heart. He's speaking Hebrews, chapter eleven to me.

"What's on the other side? What does the gate open to?" I hear the answer before I ask the question.

"Love." He looks me square in the eye, knowing that I know because He's seen me searching and sees where my Bible is most creased, and watches how the pages just fall open at 1 Corinthians 13, or Hebrews 11.

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." The pages fall open to 1 Corinthians 13, and I see life silhouetted as never before, because God is taking His evening ride across the heavens, on the clouds. And though I walk through this valley shadowed by death, faith and hope impregnate love and the train of His robe folds over me this evening.

"Lord?" He's so quiet.

"I'm still here;" He smells like damp clouds.


Connecting with God's Heart:

  • This is the valley where faith is walked out for the hope of eternal salvation. 

  • This is the valley where salvation is worked out with fear and trembling.

  • This is the valley where I may fear no evil because the one who is to be feared most is the one walking with me.

  • This is the valley held in the hands of God. 

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Man Who Sold Cigarettes

By now many have seen it. The video tape of the atrocity. Shouldn't the eyes film, watching officers of the police force become officers of a police gang that strangles an unarmed man for verbally resisting arrest? Shouldn't the heart just reel out beats? Shouldn't the heart feel what the eyes see and the ears hear, whether or not it's witnessed in "real" life or in, what? In life on video so it's not really real?

Is the heart meant to take daily doses of a world of hurts broadcast over the world news and not become as petrified flesh, hard as stone?

Didn't God write the law of love on the heart and turn it from hard stone to flesh that feels?

And are our eyes bulging dry because we are being strangled by a law that is barely alive to His love but is to a fear that He never intended for us to have?

I guess I'm feeling gritty over the whole thing. Really, I'm just disturbed by the scene and more disturbed by a heart condition that might be called "Petrified Heart." Have I developed symptoms of this condition? Is it in the air I breathe? My heart broke watching the video clip, but it broke sharp and jagged like shale, not soft tear like flesh. I felt it break like this. It felt wrong and it sounded wrong in my spirit.

What does it mean when a man is being choked on a crowded sidewalk in the middle of the day by the strong arm of the law, literally, until the very breath of his life gasps from panicking lungs, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe." And then stops breathing?

It was audible plea.

I heard it on the video.

It was audible enough to be heard through the thick bodies of five law officers, and heard past the violent scuffle, and heard in voice of the amateur taping the scene on video, "He's my brother." His voice was as shadow from the other side of the camera. As shadow, because that's how the voice sounds when the eyes can't believe what they are seeing and a brother's heart can't feel for a moment because "I can't breathe" plea looses air and goes silent and death like this just hangs dark thick shadow.

A policeman's thick hand shoves the video camera into the face of the brother behind it with no regard for the dead. Just anger. Just violence. Just a rush of adrenaline, and just only one thought, "Cover up what happened as quickly as possible." Shame wants no witnesses and pride lacks reverence, and the loud order from the law itself to curious on-lookers, "Get back lest you are arrested, or worse, for being here!" is the voice of a law that just sent a man to his death in a state that abolished the death sentence years ago.

Officer hands strangled a man who committed not the heinous crimes. No. This man didn't murder anyone; he sold cigarettes. Sold cigarettes on a sidewalk. He didn't have a permit, and I wonder if he could have afforded one. He'd been jailed for doing this before and didn't want to go back to jail and said so. Heinous? No. Was he read his rights, or even handcuffed in an effort to give him the slightest protection that rights read and handcuffs would have given him? No. Shouldn't the law read us our rights to protect us from loosing them? Shouldn't the law provide handcuffs to protect us from being cuffed by it? It seems the law had only blood thirst right there on the sidewalk in broad daylight and never mind taking precautions to protect passing people from what was about to go down.

And the man who sold cigarettes wasn't cuffed, but strangled.

The Man Who Sold Cigarettes

I live on this sidewalk; walk through this world as a passerby, and I've never kept the law perfectly. Not God's; not even man's. I've gone over the speed limit before. I've not replaced my car registration sticker on the the windshield before it expired. I've been pulled over, and read my rights, for having out of state plates. Yeah, really. Somehow I've never been ticketed.

I live here like this, and sometimes I look up and press my heart deep and right into the night sky. I do, now, and my eyes film at the beauty I see till I breathe audible need to the One whose law is love a song that comes to mind, "This is the air I breathe, and I'm desperate for You."

I can breathe. Maybe it's because I refuse to watch nearly everything broadcast, and this man who sold cigarettes is the only bit of news I've laid eyes on for a really, really long time. And my big husband, the German whose name means "The Grace of God," keeps me as up-to-date on world news as I ought to be. He knows the difference between what I ought to know and what will just keep me awake at night because I'm too visual for my own good. There's not much I need to know. The important stuff has already been broadcast in the Good News; hard facts taken from the journals of the prophets.

So I look up and see this very long, and only, cloud above me. Odd that it's the only one I can see. Odd that there isn't one stray wisp. It's as if the cloud is a river, shored on each bank by nothing but darkest indigo night. The cloud runs white because it's really vapor caught in moon light. Night shores this river of moonlit vapor and it flows long and winds slight curve from far behind me to as far ahead of me as I can see as if it is jet stream and not cloud.

But it is a cloud, and it's dividing the stars. It's a cloud lit white by moon light in the otherwise dark sky. It's sorting constellations that hang over city sidewalks and my patio. I wonder if those lit by His light, those who shine like lamps on the sidewalks and patios and all over earth, unknowingly form constellations that God can see as He walks the star dust? I'm assured by this. Assured that the light of God, in this dark world, sorts too.

I can't say I've ever seen a single cloud like it before. It seems staged. Seems like a painted backdrop hanging over this patio where this woman is looking up disturbed by images on a video tape that look a lot like war footage. My thoughts follow the trail they're on and, "God? I wonder. But, no. It's too fantastic."

"What do you wonder?" He prompts me.

"Well, I just wonder," I pause to gather the courage to sound like a crazy woman, and start over. "Was it staged? Was it a performance unknowingly acted out by the man who sold cigarettes, and by the man who said, "He's my brother," from behind a video camera that he just happened to have on site and rolling while the whole scene began? And who carries a video camera around unless they're a tourist, which he wasn't? And what about the police officers? Why were there three more officers who suddenly came into view as if waiting for their cue to dog pile the cigarette man? Where'd they come from?" It's a crazy thought, but there it is broadcast in front of God and everyone.

"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." It's His answer, from Ephesians 6:12, and it makes me feel less crazy. This is the war. God's soldiers take their orders from Him.

We don't always know if what we say or do is scripted in His book, but sometimes we find out later that it must have been. Could it be that it works like this from the other side of the battle line, too? Could it be that The Man Who Sold Cigarettes was a scene played out in it's atrocity through unsuspecting people, including the officers who may have felt a bit out of control doing their job, because maybe they were? Could it be that they played their parts because it's written that the war is fought on this earth, with real people, employed as soldiers on one side or the other of the battle field in the heavenly places? I'm crazy enough to think this is a real possibility. And Christ's words from Luke 23:34 come to mind, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." It's true. We don't always know what we are doing because sometimes orders are just taken and acted out and we're not in control.

I'm convicted by His words. I need to forgive the police officers.

I lay awake in bed, just flayed open before Him. "It shouldn't sound like this when my heart breaks, Lord. Not like a sharp tongue. Is my heart getting brittle? Why have my eyes stayed so dry?"

He says nothing and I've learned to be silent when He is. Silence in a dark room. Isn't this where something holy can grow?  Didn't the presence of Jesus form in a silent dark room with walls of maiden flesh? I think about this in the dark because I'm thinking about a silence and darkness in my heart. I make myself be still. It's how I'm told I can know God. He said it; "Be still, and know that I am God."

I lay still and know Him. I lay still. I deliberately let Him reach slow like light across me because maybe I want to hear flesh tear; not shale shatter. I do. It happens in the quiet stillness. My heart starts tearing.

"Take this broken heart and make it pure." It hurts to feel some things.

"Take these dry eyes and make them weep." And I let it happen. The weeping. It's just thin film. The man who sold cigarettes is pleading, "I can't breathe." The words echo. The man who sold cigarettes goes silent. The video is shoved back, and now the film runs from the corners of my eyes across my temples and, yes, into my ears as I lay on my pillow.

"Take this indignation and make it forgiveness." I reach for the words, 'I choose to forgive the police officers, Lord."

The Cloud at Orion's Feet

"Clouds are the dust of My feet." The Lord softly reminds me of this. I open the Book of books, the one true word, and turn the pages of truth after truth and find the book of Nahum. "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3).

My eyes scan the words again and again while truth finds its place and I feel the belt of truth cinch secure and the gap close. I stand, having girded my waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; and above all, taken the shield of faith with which I am able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (Ephesians 6:14-16).

I lift my shield of faith and it bears the pock marks and burns from those darts. "I'm using the darts to your advantage." He explains. Should I thank Him?

"You're welcome," He reads my thoughts with gentle amusement. "The darts. They mark where you are most vulnerable. The flames. They provide the fire to forge your faith till it's strengthened."

"Ohh," I'm seeing fiery darts from a new angle. For me, trust has been under fire the most. And I've learned, written books on it, that it takes strengthened faith to forgive. And forgiveness is needed when faith is weakened, and faith is weakened when trust has been burned.

I've had a lot of practice forgiving. "I choose to forgive the police officers, Lord. Increase my faith."
Faith and forgiveness run together and I keep choosing this race, even when officers, it seems, can kill a man for selling cigarettes without a permit. "Increase my faith," because they incited terror on that city sidewalk. "Increase my faith," because no one dared speak against what they were doing or come to the man's defense. "Increase my faith," because fear is big but Love is bigger.

Fear is a way wide enough to swallow this wide world in one giant gulp; but love that casts fear out is the narrow way. Few find it. Few. Many believe they have found it, but many will say "Lord, "Lord!  We did all these things in Your name;" and He will say, "I never knew you."

"I don't want to run on hard paved sidewalks where many do much in Your name but haven't taken the narrow way." And I really don't; but sometimes I fear that I am.

"I've shown you the bright dust where My feet walked right here above you. I've reminded you that I have My way in the whirlwinds, and storms, on city sidewalks, and patios. I will not acquit the wicked. I have fulfilled the law, and I have the upper hand."

He says it like this and I feel the growth pains of faith as He speaks. I picture His hands that took the fiery darts, and His feet that were nailed to the narrow way.

"The way is so narrow, Lord."

"Run as vapor on cloud dust." He showed me that odd cloud for such a time as this.

written by; Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig