‘And a highway will be there;
It will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
It will be for those who walk in that Way.
Wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get upon it;
they will not be found there.’
( text note: in ancient times a highway was to make travel easier, and certain roads were only open to those who were ceremonially pure)
I had a very strange and new experience yesterday. I found myself, as on so many occasions in the past 16 months, returning in my mind to a memory of a moment shared with the other. Something triggered the memory and all of a sudden in my mind I was there again, in a moment of extraordinary intimacy. In my present, I was in fact I sitting in a room with a hundred other people, including all of my immediate family, and as I experienced the dissonance of my memory and my reality, instead of (as I have on many, many occasions) allowing the memory to become dominant over my present, I actually found that I had an involuntary response to it. A physically distressing response. And it wasn’t because I was overcome with grief at the loss of the other but because I couldn’t bear that I had done the things which led to me having that memory.
Like I said at the beginning, this was a new experience.
I have returned to the memory consciously and deliberately since then and the same thing happens on each remembering. In fact I can’t actually get beyond a momentary recollection of the beginning of the scene as it were, before I have to stop.
This is not my doing. This is God’s. I have been tormented by memories and I have no doubt that many who have become involved with someone other than their spouse or partner have the same difficulty. Initially I clung to the memories as all that I had left, but as time has passed and healing has taken place I return to them less frequently, but they still come to mind without invitation more frequently than I would like to admit. Recently I’ve felt more strongly that I want their disruption to cease. I want wholeness and I want peace. I’m sure that it’s not part of Satan’s desire for me to have either of those things, and now that I no longer have the physical reality of the other he is using the memories to keep my mind and emotions from healing.
I’ve tried to pray the memories away and I am ever conscious of the verse ‘Do not give the devil a foothold’, because it only takes the memory of a smile or a word to have me lost in rememberings for minutes on end, which take me to places which only harm.
So when I read the verse from Isaiah this morning I wondered if maybe I’ve been set on the Way of Holiness ? I haven’t made my way there by myself. If it was up to my own assessment I’d certainly be self-excluding on the grounds of uncleanliness and wicked foolery.
But it’s not about my assessment of my self, or even your assessment of me. It’s God who names us, and sees us and places us on the road where the lions can’t be found. It’s a place of protection to allow the journey to continue more easily.
But it seems to me today that as I wrote a few days ago, there have been a lot of ferocious beasts trying to devour me in these past weeks, and dealing with the attack from memories was actually something I couldn’t manage right now. I’m too weak. I’m fighting on other fronts. So I truly believe that God stepped in and set me on the highway for now anyway. Am I ceremonially clean enough to be there ? Yes. Jesus has made me clean. I don’t have a pure heart and clean hands, but I have thrown myself on the mercy and love of one who does. And he surrounds me and overshadows me and protects me.
I don’t understand why this has changed for me right now, but once again I am reminded that we are loved by a God who knows our needs and who meets them, and today I bear witness, with very great thankfulness, for His presence in my messy life.