He sat on the windowsill and leaned his cheek against the cold glass pane. His warm breath fogged the window, diluting the sunshine and clouding his view of the beautiful azalea bushes outside. He raised his finger to the glass and drew doodles in the fog, then blew them away, as a child shakes away a disappointing picture on his Etch-A-Sketch.
The man let his hand drop into his lap. He sighed, closed his eyes and pressed closer to the glass. If only it were that easy - to, with one breath, simply erase all that had happened in the past six years. Dozens of images played across his mind in dream sequence - a black and white horror movie, a documentary of his rebellion, self-centeredness and sin.
As the sun set and twilight crept in, he opened his eyes and looked around his room - his very white room. White floors, white ceiling, white bedding, white nightstand, white institutional gown, white shower shoes. The folks that ran this place should get a clue, he thought. Surrounding crazy people with white will do nothing to erase the darkness in their souls.
The man inhaled, deep and long, breathed out another cloud on the window, and wrote...
I CANNOT ...
I cannot go on another day like this, he thought. I cannot reach God. I am too tired, too sin weary, too ... everything that disqualifies me.
"But I WILL establish my covenant with you."
He squinted his eyes. Where in the world had that come from? The words sprang up in his mind like a dormant bulb in springtime, brought to life by the breath of God.
He had forgotten so much from his childhood, had broken so many promises, had been so unfaithful. But now, right now, in this cold barren place, the man began to remember.
He wondered if mental health hospitals were like hotels, with a Gideon Bible in every room. He pulled open the top drawer of his nightstand and breathed out relief. Flipping through the pages, his sluggish heart beat faster as his mind searched through file after file of stored away words - the Word.
He recalled a passage in Ezekiel, some sermon he'd heard in his teen years about all the "I Wills" of God. Like a blind man, his fingers stumbled through the Old Testament and found Ezekiel. He scanned the chapters until his eyes landed on the once familiar passage - chapter thirty-six.
I will bring you back into your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.
I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees.
I will be your God.
The ruins will be rebuilt …like the Garden of Eden.
I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.
I WILL...I WILL...I WILL...
A thin sliver of light, understanding, and hope pierced through a crack in the man's mind and heart - a lighthouse beacon beckoning a wayward ship toward safe shores.
But many "cannots" rose up like jagged rocks, separating the dark and dangerous water from calm harbor:
I cannot be God's child
I cannot be holy
I cannot cleanse myself of all my filth
I cannot soften my stony heart
I cannot obey all that God decrees
I cannot go home
I cannot rebuild the ruins of my life.
His heart grew heavy with its load of guilt and shame.
And God said...
You are right...you cannot.
But I can.
And I will.
And He did....
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