It’s lonely on the wall, I often tell people. The wind bites up here, the stones are cold and numb your feet if you don’t keep moving. But the sunrise is killer.
The King didn’t anounce His visit that day. One minute, I d was alone, watching, the next, He stood beside me.
“How’re you holding up?” He asked simply.
I turned to face him, aware of the windburn stinging my cheeks. “They haven’t knocked me down yet.”
He surveyed the Waste with me, taking in the vast, rolling hills, now all burnt and smouldering. “Hard to look at,” He remarked.
I shrugged uncomfortably, unwilling to voice a complaint.
He looked at me, waiting.
“Yeah.” The word stuck inside my throat.
He winked and looked back at the waste, to the east. The horizon was stained bright pink and orange with the patient sun. Ribbons and tufts of cloud hung like paint strokes, drinking in the colours of the morning. A dove flew over our heads.
I nodded, fighting back the lump in my throat. “I forgot,” I said.
The King of the universe put His arm around my shoulders and cinched in tight. “I remember.”
I basked, content with the sunrise, bright and hopeful beyond the plains of despair. “You are good.”
He grinned huge. “I Am.”
“Please don’t go. I know You don’t have to.”
“You have My Helper. He shows you everything.”
I looked back at the ashen fields, smoke rising like desperate cries for help. “I forget so often.” I fumbled for a cigarette, then caught myself, eyes darting to His gaze and away.
He was still smiling, though it wasn’t without sadness. “I do not take.”
I thought back to the life I’d left, all the things I used to enjoy that held nothing for me anymore. But I couldn’t complain, not after everything.
“I do not take,” He repeated. “I may replace, but I will never take.”
“He gives and takes away,” I quoted after a long silence, then added, “Blessed be Your Name.”
“Gives and takes,” He emphasized. “Who told you it was never done in that order?”
I came to a stop at that. “Oh.”
He smiled again. “My ways are best, and they are not predictable, but I Am, and I am good, impartial and eager to bless.” Then He said, as if this whole coversation had been pointed to it, “You’re afraid of what you see, but you’re already inside My walls. You have already passed from death to life, dear strong warrior!”
“Why can’t I see it?” I cried, and snatched at my cigarettes, committing this time, fumbling a shaky lighter to its end and adding my own smoke to the air.
The sadness was still there, but the tears that filled His eyes were of love. “I am your way out. You are already out. Keep coming out of it and I will never withhold My blessing from you.”
“Like the oak tree?” I asked, referring to a lesson He’d taught me once.
“Oaks of righteousness,” He beamed. “Yes!”
“Oh grow me!” I would have been crying if the cigarette weren’t already my tears.
“Always. Even in patience.”
I bowed before Him, grateful, thankful, filled with relief. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of Him. “You are good,” I said again.
When I straightened, He was gone, and His Spirit in me said, “Now prophesy to this valley, to these dry bones, and raise them up.”
I spoke, because I believed, “Nothing shall separate from His love. Not life, not death, not famine, not sword. Not nakedness, not riches, not adversity, not comraderie. Nothing, dear valley. Nothing at all. Rise up, rise up! Sing! Shout His name in praise! This too shall pass. The Word of the Lord will never return to Him void.”
And the ground broke.