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COME ON by Julie Webb Kelley
“Come on,” he says.
I fall behind his vast strides. We’re getting close. I stop.
God takes my hand. “Come on.” A gentle tug moves me back in step.
Within moments we’re facing the swollen mound of flesh blocking the pathway of my life.
Seeing the colossal heap up close overwhelms me. I let my hand fall from his; my legs feel like a bolt of lightning hit them – they buckle and tremble all at once. “It’s hopeless.”
“There’s nothing here that can’t be fixed.” He says.
“A heart should be pink, not grey. It should be pumping, not just sitting there oozing blood and pus . . . and the lid, I can’t get the lid off. It’s stuck.”
“It is worn, but once we unpack it and get the pressure off, it’ll pink up and find its rhythm again.” He is circling the structure, studying the wreckage, witnessing the rusted craters and inflamed holes.
Then, as if distance had never existed, he kneels beside the lifeless receptacle.
I watch as his grand form dwarfs the crusty container and am startled as the God of the universe moves with gentleness and precision upon the surface of my heart. As he stretches his fingers across the lid and drives his nails beneath the lip, I realize that nothing important yet everything that matters most is inside that thing.
“Stop!” I feel separated inside, like his mission isn’t really as pure as he’s letting on, like I want desperately to trust him, but can’t find a way.
He moves closer. “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I am your God . . . I will make you strong and help you.”
The infusion of his Word forces certainty through my veins. I nod.
Again, he works the lid – pulling, lifting, never yanking –until finally with one complete screech it is up and off. A putrid odor assaults us. I cover my nose while he waves me toward the opening, acting like he can’t smell a thing.
“It’s awful.” I say.
“It’ll get better as we clean it out,” he promises.
I reach into the muddled tissue. The slime of anguish is smeared on everything making it difficult to know what’s what. I lift out a rectangular, metal pot. God grabs the other handle, sharing the weight.
I look inside the pot – confusion, distrust, fear, anger, loneliness, betrayal, yearning, emptiness – the stench of my accumulated sorrows forces a million tears to fight for first place behind my eyes.
“I don’t know why I’ve kept this.” I say, releasing it into his hands.
In that moment, the mortal coil within me begins to loosen and I am sure I hear a cry of relief break from his lips. But when I look at him, I see only the mingling of relief and care at the edges of his smile.
Reaching in again, I pull up a gray and crumbling brick. “Take this.”
He wipes the drippy, ooze from the brick, exposing the inscription, reading, “If only.”
I pull out another brick, and, another, and another, and another, handing them all to him. When the last one is in his hands, he asks if I’m sure.
“I’m tired of this wall of regrets, tired of bumping into it at night.”
I reach again -- the malignant smell fighting me. Digging under a damp wad of misery, the thing I’m after is sticky, wedged between tones of sepia tinted disappointment. I yank it free and something inside my chest twists sending distress up my neck and down both arms. The tiny black box is slimy. Its glass surfaces cracked; it emits a flash of light.
“It’s the only one left. I’ve thrown the others away . . . they were shattered, dead . . .” I hold it out.
He takes the square, turning it over in his hands. “I’m glad you kept this one.”
“I didn’t want you to see it. My faith in you is weak and splintered. It’s dying the same way all the other faith died. My faith in myself, it melted away. And my faith in others . . . smashed, like a bulldozer went over it. But that one,” I point at my faith in God, “the light still works once in a while . . . look! There’s another flash.”
“All faith can be renewed.” He says.
I turn toward the echo of the empty structure before us and notice a black crust coating the inside. I pick at it.
“What is this?” I ask.
As God scratches his nails through the sooty, baked-on glaze, I recognize the pressure of his presence within my defective heart scrapping away the worthlessness I’ve worn like a protective varnish.
When he finishes, the still, cold chunk swells with the tension of luster and life. For the first time, I see a pure reflection of myself and I recognize the magnificence of what he has created. This truth snaps my eyelids shut. I stoop to my knees, covering my face, wishing God would go away.
“The absence of my worthlessness leaves nothing but unworthiness pressing at me.” I cry from behind my hands.
I feel him near and am scared to open my eyes. Then it comes to me -- he will never be content to let me be until he has loved me into worth and worthiness. I open my eyes into the face of God; the air around me thins, he’s too close, he’s knows too much. I want to scoot away but I can’t move. His countenance holds me steady as the mystery of grace pours from the radiance of my Father.
As he takes me hand, his delight in me whispers to my heart, “Come on.”
Julie Webb Kelley is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications. In the last 25 years she has written for newspapers, non-profits, and websites in which she has had numerous articles and short stories published. As a breast cancer conqueror, one of Julie's passions remains writing about issues of women's health and wellness and alternative approaches to medicine.
In 2010, Julie’s novel, Darkness Trembles, was awarded and recognized at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. In 2011, she won awards for her poetry and article writing at the Blue Ridge conference.
Julie worked as an RN and Communication Coordinator in the PICU at The Children's Hospital of IL for 13 years before leaving to join her husband in running their business, Kelley Construction Contractors, Inc. while doing freelance medical writing.
In 2005 Julie was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award in Business as part of the annual Women's Recognition Awards sponsored by the YWCA, Pekin, IL. She was recognized for the outstanding marketing and public relations skills she demonstrated while working at The Children’s Hospital of IL and for Kelley Construction Contractors, Inc.
Julie and Michael have been married for 25 years. They have two daughters: Lauren, 23 and Megan, 13. She resides and writes among the endless cornfields of Central IL.