Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
That kind of wind that dances with your pant legs whipped out across the lake. It teased the tops of waves and got colder as it raced across the top of the water. It laughed making the waves ripple. And the water’s chill infused the wind. It got colder. The breeze off the water hit the marble of the steps and spewed up, circling around and finding a perfect hat. It was made of wool and black as night.
The owner of the hat clamped her hand down on the hat. The hat whimpered to the wind. But the owner grinned and turned into the wind.
“You can’t have it.” she bellowed. “It’s mine!” The owner of the hat kept walking along the stone embankment. A few more steps and she found a bench. She tucked her thin coat tighter around herself and settled to the seat. The stone bench was cold, so she scooted into a better position and leaned back glaring into the wind. At her taunt, the wind forgot its prey and died down to a moaning, and the woman grinned. “Ha,” she said, waving a dismissing hand. Then splayed it across the brim of her hat and felt the warm wool.
She spent a few minutes enjoying the warmth of her hat, then brought it to her lap, tucking her other hand into its warmth. The cold wind swirled around and lifted dark strands in a dance about her face, while stinging bright color in her cheeks that were sans make-up.
Ah, well. It didn’t matter. It was only cold and wind that she’d met full face. Who would she meet today? There was no one. She put the hat back on and only for a moment did warmth suffuse her.
Suddenly, a weariness slammed her so intensely she sank into the hard bench, almost like a candle gone to soft wax, losing shape and flattening on a plate. The wind sang to an audience of one as she sat watching cold water wave and ebb to the mournful tune. Her thin coat didn’t seem so warm and the wool hat didn’t protect. That hat had been perched on her head when she met him face to face for the first time.. She’d known him for a long time, and the face to face hadn’t seemed important at first. Then love had grown, and pictures weren’t enough. The face to face became important. She hadn’t cared what he looked like. His insides were beautiful, at least that’s how she read them from all their emails. His insides seemed beautiful long enough to catch her in the first flush of love and move her across four states. Leaving almost everything behind she had thrown herself into being perfect… what he wanted… what he required. It wasn’t hard at first because love obscured flaws, both his and hers.
The cold wind swirled and lifted the hat . She clamped down on it again. Okay, all right. There had been another, she glared at the gray sky. Her blue eyes grew red and tears slid from her cold cheeks onto cold stone.
“He was first, Lord. I just thought being betrayed was the worst that could happen. I know he was supposed to be forever, but let’s don’t talk about that one now, Father. That was over a long time ago,” she glared up at the clouds. I did what You asked and I forgave the perverted, selfish--” A crooked grin made a dimple appear in her tear streaked cheek. “I guess I have a little more work to do on that forgiveness thing.”
The wind snatched at the hat, but she was quick to lower her glaring eyes and tug it low on her forehead. After a few moments, the tears chilled to frost on her cheek; then, turned to ice as they dripped from her face.
She brushed the ice from her chin with the back of her hand. Despair sat on her. It dug a hole and dragged her to the brink. Her body and mind melted into the hole, finding bleak anguish that pressed her into the hands of torment which pushed her deeper into the black hole. No way up, only down. She let go of hope. It rolled out of her like the tears on her cheeks, and her heart crackled as it froze.
What had happened? She’d tried so desperately to be perfect. She studied all about being the perfect wife, and had asked God to clearly show her what her purpose had been to move four states away from family and friends and the church family that loved her warts and all. Here, she’d been to several churches but could find none that had that perfectly warm feeling as soon as you walked in the door. No church that enveloped you in grandmother-arms full of love and comfort and smelled of the fragrance to the Lord. It was so hard when the husband didn’t care a fig about going to church even though he’d promised he’d start going as soon as she got there. Another promise broken. It was insidious how the promises were broken.
Of course the hormones departing in such rage from her body which the medical society called menopause didn’t help. It was a monster that slept then woke to breathe fire and brimstone then slept then woke to claw at nerves already stretched trying to cope with new husband, new home, new dog, and ten years of man-grime.
“Oh, God!” she cried with every particle of anguish that saturated her being. “Help me,” she whispered. “I cannot stand it. I cannot bear it. He doesn’t want me. I am abhorrent in his eyes. He took everything I had, sifted through it and called it rubbish. I tried to be what he wanted. I begged you to change me, to change me into something acceptable to him. Oh, God, where are You? Don’t you even care about this shattered heart of mine?”
The wind stilled, seeming appalled at the raw passion of her plea. The sun jabbed a finger through the thick clouds as it lowered to the horizon, and then poked several holes in them. The effect was spectacular color. The woman was oblivious with her face in her hands and her mind in the hole of despair.
A man heard her cry and sat down beside her. He put his arm around her shoulders and just sat with her, his warmth soaking up the chill first from her shoulders then her body. Somehow she knew that he didn’t care how long she chose to sit there; that he was determined to sit with her forever. She trusted that warmth.
Finally, a lifetime later it seemed, she said, “I begged Him to change me so I’d be acceptable.” Tears filled her palms.
“I know,” he said, pulling her tighter against his warmth.
“What is wrong with me that I am so unlovely he doesn’t want me?”
“Nothing, Beloved, you are very beautiful. Your heart is lovely to behold and you are acceptable to Me. Your obedience and your love for Me, your trust in Me clothes you in bright while linen as the most radiant bride.” He hugged her closer and she raised her eyes, gazing out over the water to the extravagant sunset.
“Oh, how stunning that is.” Her tear-streaked face reflected the blush of pinks and golds.
“Yes, isn’t it?” He smiled. “I was thinking of you when I created it. It is the handiwork of our Father that is so glorious.” He wiped her face with his warm hand. “Better now?”
She nodded, then, “Wait. Did I here you right? I’m acceptable to You? How can that be possible?”
“Yes, you heard me aright.” He lifted her onto his lap, removed her hat and put her hands in it, then, wrapped both arms around her. “I have been doing a work in you since you first put your hand in Mine. Just because some man doesn’t appreciate the work you and I have been doing these many years, does not mean you are unacceptable, Beloved. You are precious to Me. I treasure Your heart. No matter what happens when you go back in that house, I am right there with you. I want your heart just as it is, full of My love. You let me worry about that man you call husband. You let me take care of him. You reflect Me and forgive him. I am with you always and I will never leave you or forsake you.”
“How precious are those words in my ears.” She was quiet a moment. “Rejection is extremely painful. If not for You it would be literally unbearable.” He was silent and held her close. Her breath came in steamy puffs.
Then she stiffened. “Oh!”
“What is it, Beloved?”
“Oh, how wretched You must have felt! I was rejected by one man that I loved dearly and deeply. But, You… Oh! You are rejected by so many.” This time her heart wept a whisper, “In such a very small way, I think I can understand how you must feel by that rejection.”
“Hush, child. It was My love for you and the joy of what would be that I endured the cross and the pain and despised the shame. And even now I sit at the right hand of the throne of God. Do not grow weary and fainting in your soul, child, for I am here.
She held His hand in both of hers and said, “I cannot express how much I welcome this time with You. You have made me feel so special and so loved and… and so… alive. Thank you. Thank you for Your love and Your protection and thank you for telling me I am acceptable. I think I can actually stand whatever I must in this life because of You. I love You, Lord.” She sighed. Turning back to the fine tapestry of sky, she said, “That is an absolutely gorgeous sunset. I am constantly in awe of God’s glory and His creation.”
“I know.” He squeezed her hand. “This is the LORD’s doing and a wonder to our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made we shall be full of joy and delight in it. No one can out-love God.”
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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