The Clearing

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The staccato crackle and crunch of the leaves under her shoes was a melodic accompaniment to the shuffle of her feet through the forest floor. Shuffle-crunch, shuffle-crackle became a soothing cadence as she meandered through the familiar patterns of the trees. Caught in that interlude where fall and winter have yet to overlap enough leaves had fallen to form a golden carpet while those remaining cloaked the scene with their embrace. The winds of change were blowing.

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As she entered the clearing memories came flooding back, dancing through her mind’s eye like the whirls of a prima ballerina. She halted, stopping abruptly to look and let the memories wash over her. The fear, frustration and confusion mingled with strength, security and hopeful yearning for day unseen. She took in her breath as the autumn sun shone through the trees to reveal the cleft of the valley below. The precipice remained bare, the valley floor out of view. As she tentatively stepped forward she scanned the mountain standing opposite as if to guard the valley and her view of what lay ahead. Remaining in the trees she paused, reluctant to be drawn into the past of what lay over her shoulder. Taking deep breaths of the fresh air as she willed herself to be calm. When the Lord brings us full circle we have to examine the beginning from the end to understand where and how our roots lie.

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She slowly turned, her countenance cast down as if trying the memorize the points of the leaves beneath her feet. As she raised her eyes the perch slowly came into focus. She stood. Her eyes filled and her heart fluttered as the tears spilled out to slowly roll down her face. She gasped, her hand rising involuntarily to cover her mouth. A glow, mingling with the dappled sunlight, emanated from the perch. She felt the warmth steal over her and sank to her knees weeping. It was then she spotted the tether, sprawled on the ground as if she had just stepped out of it. Remembering, she sat back and allowed pictures to unfold in her spirit. The hunger for God, the disappointment of dashed expectations, and her overweening pride had brought her to this place. Alone with God on the side of a spiritual mountain she had nowhere else to go. Surrounded by tall hardwoods in her little clearing, with a T-shaped stand and a thick hempen tether she could circle the post or hop on her perch but no further. It was there she remained, constrained until her pride was stripped away, her compassion, mercy and grace were unearthed while her dependence on the Lord grew. At first she wailed, then she bargained, followed by self-pity and resentment set in.

But don’t you see?” asked the Lord, “It’s your heart I am after.

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As sunrise after sunrise came and the seasons rolled in she began to notice a change. The hardened shell of her heart began to soften. Terrified of rejection and heartaches she wavered wearing paths with her pacing which were still partially visible under the leaves. Soon, she began to enjoy the view and appreciate the quietness of the hillside, the privacy of the clearing and the love of her companion. Days of discovering hidden treasure revealed in His love interspersed with tender ministrations were a healing balm to her wounds. Her resentment changed to anticipation and her fear to confidence as her love and trust in the Savior multiplied.

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Finally, the day came for her to go but surprisingly she found herself reluctant to leave. And now, here she was, reliving the feeling as the Lord showed her the end of the tether. It was loose. Never a prisoner she could have slipped it over her foot, walked out of the clearing and back down the mountain at any time. But instead, she chose to fly. She chose the path of the eagle so she could soar to new heights with He who dwells on high.

He who waits upon the Lord shall renew his strength and mount up with wings like eagles ~ Is. 40:31

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