Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17th

Written two years ago, on February 2, 2015, but not previously shared:

Had a dream a few days ago. It was the last dream I had before waking. I had been waking up and going back to sleep every half hour or so, as I normally do between five and six in the morning.

In this dream, I was kneeling on the ground in the formal Japanese posture, one that is taken to show respect and honor when in the presence of authority. I was caught motionless in the grip of a serenity that was complete and close to ecstasy and there was a gleaming blade coming out of my open mouth, the edges razor shape, bright, polished and reflecting the light along the length of it.

As the blade came out of my mouth, there was a sound or a vibration that was rising all around me in intensity- it was so strong that it was part of the ecstasy. It was like being near a huge speaker and feeling the resonance of the sound vibrating all through one, but one is not causing it to happen, nor the source of it.

I was fearless and completely surrendered to the power that was flowing through my entire self, holding me motionless. I felt nothing but the ecstasy of perfect surrender, the sound and vibration rising together as the sword came out of my mouth, blade first, not touching any part of my mouth or lips or throat, until the golden hilt was seen, and an unseen onlooker, terrified by this sight and not understanding cried, “Oh God, no!” but their fear could not touch me or what was happening through me, and the low sound or vibration or intensity of power rose to a crescendo and abruptly stopped, as though with a resounding clap of hands and I was wide awake in the echoing and sudden silence, with the image still impressed on my mind.

I was afraid of the intensity of what I had seen, how sacred that symbol was, and what it might mean, and it was me that was saying, “Oh, God no!” in trembling and reluctance. “Oh, God, no! How much more? How much further will You take me? How much more will You do with me?”

It was not the full length katana that Japanese Samurai carry- it was the short blade that their wives carry, to fight alongside them to defend the household.

October 27, 2016

The fear of God has been coming over me in waves. “Oh my Lord Jesus Christ, make me ready for You,” I pleaded, in the grip of one of these waves. “Wash me and cleanse me and make me ready to see You…”

You were made for Me, Jesus said.

October 30, 2016

“I will try another way (to reach You),”  I told Jesus, and spiritually reached forward with my eyes shut, to feel for where Jesus might be.

You know where you are, Jesus replied with His loving humor, and I did know, because I could see the rooms.

Written that evening:

Went to Jesus, saw vivid glimpse of the side of a white, sculpted pillar in a room that did not look like inner rooms, but felt the same. I wondered if I was seeing it for the first time as it really is. All I could clearly see was the side of the pillar and the sense that there were rooms on either side that were full of space and light.

In front of me suddenly I knew was Jesus. I could see was the white of His robe, finely knit. I reached out with my hand and touched His robe, hesitantly gathering it up in my fingers, when it came over me, much more than before, that I was in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I fell on my face at His feet.

He went to gather me in His arms, but I was pouring out confessions of my pride, selfishness, disbelief, arrogance, and judgment of others that like small weeds had been popping up in my thoughts from time to time during the day, which I saw even more clearly in His presence as awful, and in a gasp of burning understanding, knowing that He had forgiven me and does forgive me, and loves me, I threw myself into the gap of repenting for those same sins in other Americans- forgive me- forgive us! You have mercy on me, have mercy on us! Do not look at our sins, but according to Your loving kindness look on us and save us and lead us into Your Kingdom, for Your Name's sake, demonstrate Your righteousness acts. We cannot save ourselves, save us and have mercy on us and glorify Your name of righteousness Savior. For the sake of those unborn who cannot tell their right hand from their left, close the gates of murder in this country, close those gates of murder, Prince of Life! For the sake of the poor who are preyed upon, and the burning grief and agony of the mothers who, deceived and blind, realize too late what they have done, have mercy and close the gates of murder in this country. Tear down our pride and make us like children in Your presence!

Dizzy and gasping as I prayed, very glad I was already physically lying down. Went back to the room, realized again that I was with Jesus and that I know Him and have known Him all this time. You know it is true, Jesus said, as I was realizing this, and I collapsed right back to the ground on my knees, and again Jesus knelt down with me, catching me.

I was finally able to curl up in His arms, but my awe was so great that I could do so for only a few moments at a time.

November 1, 2016

"I'm Yours by three claims," I was saying to Jesus, realizing it. "Because You created me, You redeemed me through Your cross and You choose me for Your purpose by Your grace. I'm yours entirely, Your own creation from start to finish and how I love to be Yours! I love to be Yours! I love to belong to You alone, wholly!"

Irresistible one, Jesus said.

I picked up His hand gently and held it in mine. He was seated at the well in the sunlight, His hand was strong and warm and heavy.

"Because I can," I said to Him shyly.

You may at any time.

I curled up in His arms, holding Him close, grounding myself in the solidness of holding Him, and put my face in the shoulder of His robe and breathed in deeply, letting my spirit open up to the joy of knowing I was with Jesus, love rising up with the joy like a peaceful river.

Mine, He whispered.


“Where are You?”

Saw the room in warm light, went there, immediately fell on my face and did not look up, knowing I was with Jesus, though I did not yet see Him.

Jenny, said Jesus with tenderly loving reproach, because He prefers me to be closer to Him.

“Give me a moment just to be on the floor,” I pleaded, trying to adjust to the knowledge that I was with the Lord Jesus.

Caught up again in repentance, among other things for quenching the Holy Spirit when I did not realize it was Him, realized just how tenderhearted and merciful He is, and for pride and for looking down on others, all of which are trains of thought, but in the presence of Jesus, even thoughts stand out as ugly, useless and not a part of the Lord, like dead branches.

November 4, 2016

"Here is the abounding faith," I whispered, "that I don't walk by sight, I walk by faith, and by faith I put my face against Yours, Lord Jesus," I said, trustingly putting my cheek against His beard, even though my sight was choppy and unpredictable, and for all I could see, might be just putting my face against empty space.

Jenny, oh My Jenny, Jesus cried in love. I could hear His voice quite clearly, and the emotion in it.

"Your heart is so vulnerable, that is why I must be zealous for Your honor, and never share the secret of Your tendernesses..."

Unless I wish you to, as I have told you before, Jesus lovingly reminded me without words, causing me to remember previous conversations with Him.

"Unless You tell me to, so that others, seeing the beauty of Your love, may be drawn to You and love You," I agreed.

"Oh my Lord Jesus, cleanse the thoughts of my heart, that I might perfectly love You and worthily magnify Your great name... and I must trust You to do this," I added confidently, resting back in His arms, letting go of the heaviness of the request, humanly speaking. Humanly speaking, it's impossible.

Saw His beautiful eyes, clear and calm and full of light, full of love, and the angles of His face, and once again, the knowledge that I was with Jesus Christ came down over me like soothing oil, settling me down into deep peace and contentment, and I leaned into Him, drinking in the peace of Him, the Prince of peace, Who does all things well.

I had been repenting all day, I remembered, as I put the phone down, after having recorded the above, and returning to Him.

But not anymore, Jesus pointed out, because after repentance there is forgiveness, and then it's gone away, and He wants me to remember this.

“That's what is meant by guarding eye and ear gates. That is a real dynamic," I realized, curled up with Jesus and resting, even though sight was still coming and going. It can never be sight first, I remember again, it's always by faith first.

“If one fills their mind with all those other things, how will anyone have space for You? You require a lot of space,” I pointed out. This fellowship with Jesus requires devotion, full attention held over long periods of time, and even longer periods of consistent quietness away from the noise and glare of the world.

Yes, Jesus agreed, seriously, then added with good humor, But I'm worth it!

"Thank You for helping me be devoted to You," I said, remembering His grace poured out to me when I was growing, and my devotion and self discipline was weak and inconsistent, and yet Jesus let me know His presence, remaining with me, teaching me all the while how to walk further on with Him.

Recorded the above, returned to Jesus.

Jenny, you’re Mine, you’re given to Me, He whispered to me, when I had sunk even more deeply down into the peaceful heart of His presence, full of the warm light, melting down into the light and warmth of Him. Bone of My bone, flesh of My flesh, you're what the Father promised Me, Jesus said, when I returned to Him, confidently going back straight to His heart as though already in heaven with Him.

November 27, 2016

I saw Jesus in Galilea, at the house of a Pharisee. I was in the kitchen, scrubbing a pot. The dinner was over and I heard His voice coming from the room where they were still talking. Just the tones of His voice caused me, all alone in the kitchen, to fall on my face in love and awe.

“Blessed are they who break bread in the Kingdom of Heaven!” declared a guest, and Jesus looked up at this person swiftly, weighing those words as to motive and seeing the heart. Jesus does this unerringly, but with a gentle compassion that is often touched with humor.

“A certain man gave a great supper, and He invited many,” Jesus began, His voice strong and full of controlled expression. Jesus has a brilliant mind which can find the point, build the story up to frame and present that point, and hold His audience’s attention at the same time. Jesus is never arrogant, but He never doubts Himself either. When He gathers up the reins in His hand, His hand is certain.

I remembered the delicacy of His poetry, with the careful balance of inverted parallelism building to the point in the center, and the play on words in the stanzas, the question that He asks in it. (Bailey, Kenneth, "Poet and Peasant," Exegesis of Luke 16:1-13) What Jesus declares is that man cannot serve God and money, and the Pharisees derided Him.

All around Jesus, the waves were rising and crashing, waves of worship, and waves of mocking derision, but Jesus is not looking at them for direction, He is going straight as an arrow along His Father’s will. The waves can crash against Him from one side and then another, Jesus is standing like a rock where He must stand.

“Speak, Lord, speak,” I whispered when I was able to be with Him. “Your words are true, they are like silver, refined seven times. They are sweet as honey to my taste, like honey from the honey comb.”

November 8, 2016

Closer and closer the Lord is coming to me and the veil- not of sight but of something else- perception of His presence goes so thin that I become acutely aware of my frailty of flesh, the fact that I am a created being, that there is no glory in the flesh, no power, no authority- there is only the love of the Lord for His own creation, the work of His hands, His heart is full of love beyond comprehension and yet He is burning holy, a pure unquenchable flame of white heat and I can only ask Him to have mercy, for I can do nothing of myself and that is clearly and manifestly true to me in those moments. Jesus must finish the work, I can't do it.

And He will, because He is true to His word, true to His word, true to His word! That's how I prayed as the truth of it came rolling over me in powerful relief and gratitude and strength. Jesus will finish all His works and bring them to conclusion and that includes me. I saw His face burning through the veil, a face of light with eyes of fire and warmth of love.

Kept seeing myself standing and praying, and because of this, repenting in shame for what seemed to me to be a desire to be seen.

Jenny, I put you in the world, Jesus said, as I was grieving this. He meant, in the world, physically manifested, to be seen, and that was His plan.

Today and yesterday, I am starting to feel waves of heavy anointing coming down over me as I prepare to pray for that gathering I will be attending.

Rest in that, little dove, Jesus said this morning, when I was declaring with relief that He was doing all things well.

November 9, 2016

Don't be afraid, Jenny, Jesus said, and I realized, I don't have to be afraid! In fact, I should not be!

Prayed in travail this evening, standing, kneeling, gasping, crying, on my face at times, then back on my knees, holding on to the counter, my stomach, I can't remember all what. I ended up on my face on the floor, in such overwhelming fear and awe of God, the Father, the One true and Living God, the One who sits on the throne and has all power and authority, and then, to know, in an inrushing, sweet, overwhelming tide, to know His mercy, His love- full of life, Life Himself, the Living God, the Prince of Life and full of mercy and loving kindness and love. We are His. We belong to Him. He created us for Himself, out of love, joy and delight.

November 10, 2016

I travailed in prayer again tonight, sobbing and gasping until the prayer was poured out.

"Please take these," I said to Jesus, meaning the prayers.

I will keep all these treasures, He said immediately, gathering them up in His arms.

November 11, 2016

Again in prayer tonight for purity of heart according to His own word that He would hallow and keep us. The Lord reminded me not just to pray for it, but to release it on earth according to the authority of His word.

How I wish it were already kindled! The meaning of that exploded into me, the burning passion of Jesus- the fire that He longed fervently to kindle, but first came the cross. Jesus already longed to send down the fire of the Holy Spirit! It’s His passionate longing that He went through the cross to reach.

Heart of My heart! Jesus was crying out, as this massive understanding fell into place. I was physically shuddering from it.

Last night, holding to His shoulders, knowing He was lashed with the whip and then carried the cross, and carries the whole government. "And now me," I added, realizing that I was leaning my arms and head easily and securely on His broad shoulders.

The most precious burden of all, Jesus declared.

November 12, 2016

Last night, on the night of November 11, the moon was almost full and riding in the sky amid a swath of white scalloped clouds that ran east to west. My mother in law came over unexpectedly and we cooked lamb chops that we’d had in the freezer and roasted root vegetables and instant mashed potatoes. She sat in the reclining chair, saying that she was wanting to begin again, to have the joy of life.

“May the Lord Jesus Christ give you the strength to do so, you need the Holy Spirit to help you keep that course,” I declared from across the room, in a voice unlike my usual one- it was full of calm, ringing clarity. This was because I'm learning through many mistakes that I cannot address these things out of my well-meaning soul, but out of my spirit instead, leaning on the Holy Spirit.

Later on, she was telling me about an incident where a neighbor had said something very hurtful to her, and she looked at me, but her eyes were a little vacant and she declared that it was the enemy attacking her. Immediately the atmosphere changed in a way I repudiated immediately and stepped on firmly, but again, she described the experience of being pushed toward the couch and having hurtful words said to her face and again she attributed it directly to the enemy. Her shoulders were bowed and her head sunk down and the atmosphere was repugnant to me, so I not only tread on it, but spoke from my spirit, leaning into the Holy Spirit.

“G-, the enemy has no authority to hurt you because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and cannot touch you,” I declared, and my voice ringing out strong and sure in the room. “When those fiery darts come at you, you must lift your shield so that they don’t hit your heart and hurt you,” I added, with firm compassion and pity.

She was looking up, understanding just beginning to dawn in her eyes, so I reached back into my cupboard door and tore off the recipe card that I had fastened there with scotch tape. “Look,” I said, my voice full of compassion, and I walked toward her, only I was moving like a massive fortress through the atmosphere; I was like a huge, steady ship that cannot be tipped over because of the weight of the ballast, which is the Lord Jesus Christ and His work in my life, and instead of being rocked by the waves, I was making waves of His authority and peace ripple outward from my approach. It was the first time I became aware of this.

I bent near her and showed her the card and read aloud: “'Listen carefully,' says the Lord Jesus Christ,” I began, full of love for her. I read her the whole verse about having authority to step on scorpions and snakes and that nothing will in anyway hurt her, because of the Lord, and to rejoice that her name is in heaven.

“Oh, thank you,” she said, her voice full of hope, lifting the card in both hands and looking at it. Then she rubbed her arms. “I have goosebumps,” she said.

During dinner, some past pain came up and led to conflict and I thought the entire evening would be ruined, as is the pattern. That was before this conversation with her.

After this conversation, she said she was going downstairs. Her voice was light and shy. Immediately, I prayed, the Holy Spirit coming down in the heavy way that has been usual lately, and I was gasping for breath and dizzy. Then I went on cleaning up and shortly thereafter, I heard and saw the unpreceded, swift answer to my prayer. 

As soon as I could get away by myself, I went around the corner into another room and bowed my head to the floor in gratitude and recognition of the Lord Jesus, of His authority and goodness, demonstrated openly right before my eyes.

This is just the beginning, Jesus declared, His voice clear and calm in my spirit.

Just the beginning! Just the beginning of reconciliation, of freedom for the captives, of restoration, of healing.

In the night, had a terrible nightmare, pointed, personal, evil. Woke and realized that I was under direct spiritual attack, but this knowledge was flipped on its head when I realized that just as it was true and undeniable that there were spiritual enemies, just as they are real, so it is just as real that Heaven is real, and Heaven has armies of light and Heaven has a King, and I know that King, and I serve Him and belong to Him. Jesus Himself is living, present, true and above all, in authority over me and everything else.

My faith soared up into previously unheard of levels. Everything in the Gospel is true. Jesus, the Son of God, came down and walked this earth and He manifested the Father’s name, the One true and Living God. There is a God, there is one God, and He manifested His name perfectly in flesh and blood on earth, in a specific geographical region, at a specific time, God Himself entered the world He had created and remade it, and He loves us. He loves us and He won.

Tears were pouring down my face and I was pouring out love to Jesus as if I had never before, as if it were the first time I ever spoke to Him, trying to tell the Lord Jesus how much I love Him, revere Him, honor Him, adore Him, worship Him, and to express the extent of my gratitude that He came down, that my God came down into this world, to save me from sin and death by taking it upon Himself, to take me from captivity to be reconciled to the Father, to take me up and out of darkness and transfer me into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Now You Shall Be Fishers of Men

March 26, 2017 Unpublished

I glanced up at Him, as I paused at the threshold today, on the verge of going for a walk.

"Do You want me to?" I asked Jesus, without words, and I felt His hand, warm, on my back, and He ushered me out the door.

On the way, Jesus stopped and reminded me, through the running of my thoughts, that I was wanting Him, and that I should surrender to that. So I put my thoughts aside and He took me up in His arms.

I reached the curve of the road where I had listened to "O Daughter of Zion," and I reminded Him of how wonderful that had been, that time of uplifting joy and complete peace and His presence, all bound up in the place itself, in the beauty around me, and in the words of the song.

Jesus put His arm around my shoulder.

And I am still here, He reminded me, lovingly, and He turned toward me and put His face in my hair for a moment.

"So You are," I agreed without words, with welling gratitude and contentment.

It's a gorgeous day, all cool and full of wind and the quiet rustling of new leaves. The lake was lovely.

From Richard Rohr today:

When I was young, I wanted to suffer for God. I pictured myself being the great and glorious martyr somewhere. There's something so romantic about laying down your life for something great. I guess many young people might see themselves that way, but now I know it was mostly ego, but sort of good ego at that stage.

There is nothing glorious about any actual moment of suffering—when you're in the midst of it. You swear it's meaningless. You swear it has nothing to do with goodness or holiness or God—or you.

The very essence of any experience of trial is that you want to get out of it. A lack of purpose, of meaning—is the precise suffering of suffering! When you find a pattern in your suffering, a direction, you can accept it and go with it.

March 27, 2017 Unpublished

I've been thinking a great deal about becoming a mother. It's interesting to notice the change in my perception of myself.

I think in many ways I now process life as though I were at the end of it, coming to many realizations which I think normally occur after the children have grown and left the home.

Maybe it’s when the children are grown and fly the nest that people begin to think about their mortality and begin to look for meaning, because the role that had so largely defined their lives has concluded.

I’m doing this now, though, because the infertility brought me right up against my mortality. It was a significant death, a death of a part of me that biologically speaking was my birthright.

Any hope I'd had, before then, of life ever being free of suffering was killed at that point. I had had the dream, a mostly unconscious one, that once I became a mother, my scars and imperfections would be swallowed up by my new, absorbing role.

I thought, once and for all, I would leave the brokenness behind and step into the commercials, into the rosy human ideal. This dream normally recedes as we reach for it, but I thought I might get there, that for once I would catch it.

Of course I couldn't. The whole image was shattered like a mirror. At first, I hated God for doing that to me, for slapping my hand away just as I reached for the loaded table.

Without the dream, I was left with merely the present moment, and with what value I could glean from the suffering, and I was left with God. I had only those things that are behind the rosy facade and that are of much greater value in the end.

It doesn't have to be infertility to cause us to see life this way. Sickness or death of a loved one can do this. Marriage can do it. Life itself will, if we let it.

I could have kicked against the pricks the whole way along. I could have continued to fight the loss, reached and reached again for what it was I thought I wanted, or deserved. But He kept closing the doors. Everything I tried ended up going nowhere.

I wonder what would have happened if I had gone on like that? Could I have built an entire life for myself out of denial, outrage, and determination to have what I believed I deserved- what I thought life was supposed to be like?

Or, when that finally collapsed, would I have then defined my life by bitterness and grief?

I think it likely, but who knows. Something else happened. I grieved the loss, accepted my mortality and found meaning in my suffering. I fell in love with God. But why? How was I able to do that? Why am I like I am?

I am a mystery to myself. And because of this, everyone else is a mystery to me. I've felt this all my life, actually- the fact that I simply cannot take credit for myself, therefore I cannot judge another person.

I don't know how I'm able to stand, so how can I judge another person for apparently falling? And anyway, I don't know why they appear to be on the floor. They might have just made it out of the basement.

(I wrote about the following in a previous blog entry, also unpublished, and I tried writing about it here, because it was so much on my mind and I was trying to understand it. I didn’t end up publishing this either.)

When I was seventeen or eighteen, I was caught up in a kind of drunken rapture on God, partly caused by who I am, and partly by the fact that I was attending a Pentecostal church at the time, and my love for Jesus had gone up into flames of tongues and singing.

I got prayed and prophesied over a great deal. This left me with the impression that I was meant to do Great Things For God. Because I did not know God very well yet, this prospect terrified me.

I have a clear memory of being on the front porch of the church in which I had been raised- we were still living on the grounds of the Bible School, though we weren’t attending the church there. I was reading a biography of a Pentecostal woman preacher. She had no family- no husband, no children. Instead, she was filled with the Spirit and had an incredible ministry.

Immediately, I was struck by the premonition that God would not allow me to have children. Not because children are a hindrance to knowing Him- but because it was my deepest desire. I felt certain He would remove my deepest desire from me and put Himself in its place.

As the years went by, this thought remained ever in the back of my mind. In my twenties, every time I might have been pregnant and was not, I remembered, and wondered. But I kept dismissing it- God is not really like that. That was the fevered imagination of my youth.

So you can imagine my outrage when this premonition, despite everything, came true. I can't bear children. He did fill my life with His presence, and He has been using me.

It's a mystery.

March 27, 2012 Unpublished

Boy, I have been introspective today!

I realized, after writing that whole last blog, that I was certainly not going to publish it.

And I was wondering about life. Still. And still trying to put it into words, because I'm a writer, and that's what I do. And also trying to put it into perspective, because I'm philosophical like that. I want the big picture of everything.

I was wondering about this two week period (where Keith has gone to military training out of state right before officially starting the adoption process), and what it means for Keith and I, and I had to give up wondering, because I don't know.

But I am here, Jesus reminded me, tenderly.

When Jesus spoke, I knew He was there and I knew where He was; Jesus was standing right beside me. I was in His embrace and He was bending His head down toward me, His cheek against my hair.

“That I always know,” I told Jesus in relief, because Jesus has said and demonstrated it to me so often that I really am starting to know it.

Then my thoughts wandered away, and then the dogs barked, all of a sudden, and a little jolt of fear when through me- who was there, what was happening, and the fear caused me to leap out for Jesus by instinct, and I knew Him right beside me, still where He had been when He spoke. It was just for a moment, because the fear caused me to leap out and there Jesus was, like a shield, right where He had been.

This was my verse:

"But as for me, how good it is to be near God!  I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do." (Psalm 73:28)

March 28, 2012

Yesterday I got to work on the overgrown flower bed in the back yard and I filled out the home study application- all but some of Keith's information. There were six pages of it.

The papers are waiting now in the expanding file folder that Keith and I bought a couple weeks ago, just for that purpose.

When he gets back, we'll mail it in and in seventy two hours, we'll know if we were accepted or not, and if we are, we'll begin gathering up all the documents to complete their program.

I've been resting and slowly moving from one task to another and thinking. Last night I was reading in Genesis and I was astonished at the story of the Garden of Eden. It struck me suddenly that Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

I saw this in a new way. It meant they could not tell the difference between good and evil. If you do not know the difference between good and evil, how can you have a conscience? Isn't that the very definition of a conscience?

This was on purpose- in fact, it was the Divine purpose. God Himself forbade them to eat from that tree.

Why? Why would God do this?

So I asked Him. Jesus reminded me that, even though they did not know good and evil, they knew Him.

They were in intimate relationship with God Himself. They understood the world around them through God, their Creator, their Father, their Friend.

You might even say that God Himself was their conscience. After all, God perfectly understands the difference between good and evil.

But they choose to take this knowledge apart from Him- to take it for themselves.

I think we still do this. We want to be like God, we want to make judgments on our own, even if this means we're secretly ashamed of ourselves and lonely, wearing smelling skins and eating our bread by the sweat of our face.

But we tell ourselves- surely it will nourish me, and it looks so attractive, and most of all, it feels so powerful to have what looks like wisdom!

For some reason, we aren't satisfied to be His child in the garden, and walk with Him in the cool of the day, trusting Him completely, without shame, and free to eat of every tree in the garden, but for one.

Because didn't Jesus come to fulfill the law- to absorb it back into Himself, as it were? We are converted, and become, again, as children- His trusting, dependent children.

Then God Himself becomes our conscience all over again- we need know nothing more than that we love Him and follow Him and know Him and imitate Him.

March 28, 2012 Unpublished

As I was walking, I was thinking about my last blog, and how it is not universal- that is, it is even contradictory to other verses in the Bible, like the fact that we wear the robes of salvation and righteousness, and that passing from the law to Christ is illustrated by coming of age.

But I realized that what I had written was merely a story or metaphor, used to illustrate a deeper truth, a truth that could be illustrated just as well in other ways.

Like a parable? Jesus asked me, teasingly. He put His forehead against mine and drew me close. I felt His love and tenderness and possession of me so strongly- I knew He meant: like Father, like daughter.

"Kind of like," I admitted, smiling, and leaning in toward Him. The moment was just full of cuteness.

April 1, 2012

"Today the goodness of God cries out,
and the waters come to life with Your saving grace.
Radiant is Your joy, O God,
and the splendor of Your love is alive, alive."
-The Monks of Weston Priory

I got back from my walk, and those words leaped out at me from the song.

What a beautiful day it is today! The light shimmered on the edges of all the tender green leaves. It made a haze of light at the edges of everything.

One could look down through the lace of light into further vistas of green edged light and further down into bottle green and dappled shadow.

A lilac tree grows at the edge of the lake there, and as I walked toward it, the smell of the lilacs and the smell of the warm water and the smell of fish were all mingled together, as though to capture the very essence of early summer.

Today is Palm Sunday, and it seemed as though the very landscape were crying out in joyful worship. I was caught up in this worship, in the recognition of my Lord, my Creator, my triumphant and humble King.

As I passed through my neighborhood, I smelled pancakes and bacon from someone's open window, which evoked a whole host of memories and longing for my own family breakfasts on a sunny Sunday.

Maybe one day, I will be making pancakes for Keith, and children of our own. In the meantime, I have so much already.

April 2, 2012 Unpublished

I had such an interesting insight on my walk this morning.

In looking for meaning in everything, I am going to find lots of fascinating and useful insights that enrich my understanding of life and of God, and I am also going to find lots of meaningless nonsense.

That's just the nature of looking for meaning in every moment.

I remembered that parable about the Kingdom of Heaven being like a man who was fishing with a net, and he caught all kinds of fish that he then had to sort through. I thought again about how Jesus had said to Peter, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch."

Then I thought about how one could look for meaning in life in two different ways. One could line fish on the shore or one could drag net in the deeps.

One day, you could be squatting on the beach, trying to fix the net, and someone calls your name.  A Man is standing there, a perfectly ordinary looking Man and He wants to use your boat.

Don’t say yes, if you value your routine and easy answers.

This Man will stand in your boat and say what seems to be simple things to crowds of people you don’t know. You yourself will hardly be able to understand what He is saying.

But that’s not all! After He has finished speaking to the crowd, He will turn and look at you. He will tell you to launch out into the deep.

On the shore are the boats and the houses, and out in the lake, the water is glinting and the wind is moving and fear runs like a shiver up your spine, but you do as He asks.

We don’t even know why we obey Him, except that all our inexpressible longing is running into Him, drawing us. It’s the same for flowers turning their faces to the sun.

When we let down our nets, the catch is so large that the net is breaking and the boat is sinking.

That's the point at which one realizes one's previous construct is too small to hold all of God. It’s very frightening. The illusion of control is gone.

God is huge and you are small, and much of what you felt was certain is breaking apart under the weight of all those scattering silver scales, those thousands of liquid eyes, the fragile gills, that strange and living heap of water and light and life. You can’t even begin to sort through everything.

That is the point at which you fall to your knees in terror before God and plead, "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man."

And what is the first thing God say in response? He says, "Do not be afraid."

Why? Because the lake itself is God, that's why, and in His lake, we are the fish. Who cares if our boat falls apart, if all that means is that we are plunged into God Himself?

We are in God and God is in us, and He is infinite, and large enough to hold mysteries without end. He is fishing for us, not the other way around.

But until God Himself steps into our lives, we cling to our ideas. It keeps us afloat on a small wooden shell, above the infinite mystery and love of God Himself, which is so large that it is terrifying to acknowledge.

"Here are the boundaries of God," we say. “Here is what is clean and here is what is unclean. Here is the right way and the right method. This is what my father did and his father before him. We are suffering in poverty, our catch is small, but it is correct, and that is enough.”

This comforts us. We’re unable to let go of the boat, unable to let go of our comfortable hook, line and sinker.

When God does step into our lives, things will start to fall to pieces. Our cherished constructs begin to fall to pieces. We know that we are sinful, small, helpless.

But God is right there, right before us and His eyes are full of love. The spray of the ocean is thrown in the air by the catch of fish, and everything is full of light and He tells us not to be afraid, now we will be fishers of men.

Friday, February 3, 2017

You Shall See Heaven

March 15, 2012

I read this today in Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation:

"Real holiness doesn’t feel like holiness; it just feels like you’re dying. It feels like you’re losing it. And you are! You are losing the false self, which you foolishly thought was permanent, important, and you!

You know God is doing this in you and with you when you can somehow smile, and trust that what you lost is something you did not need anyway. In fact, it got in the way of what was real."

That really resonated with me this morning.

I read in Mark again about the woman who broke the alabaster flask and poured the oil over Jesus' head. Everyone got so upset with her because she had, in a sense, wasted her best and most valuable resources.

Which sometimes, I feel like I am doing. I feel like I'm not achieving anything that appears to be of practical use or value with my life right now.

My husband would disagree; he would say that I am at the heart of his life and the reason why he goes to work.

When I bring this up to my God (which I do, frequently) I am reminded (again) to wait, and to live deeply in the present moment and to give myself over to those things I have been given to do.

And the deeper secret, the thing Jesus tells my wondering heart, is that He is not interested in using us as if we were His tools, He is interested in our company.

That's what He created us for- for fellowship. Jesus wants us to keep company with Him.

I'm sure that when we do that, when we stay with Him just because He loves us and we love Him, then He ends up using us in ways we don't imagine.

But the love comes first.

And I forget sometimes how much I've grown, because it's not in my own strength or on my own timeline, and I'm always only noticing the things that I want perfected or cleared away right now.

Instead, it really is like noticing fruit growing. Have you ever noticed how slowly that goes? It takes forever, it seems like.

Not to mention, I realized that in order for the fruit to grow at all, the blossom must wither and fall to the ground. Here is this beautiful blossom, a beautiful promise, and then it withers away! If I was a plant and it was my first growing season and that happened, I'd think something terrible was going on, but really, it's a sign that fruit is growing.

The growing season is only one season. I realized that recently. The rest of the time the tree is closing down for winter, and then appears to be dead- when they are dormant.

And they get pruned.

So, in the winter they are dormant and pruned. In the spring, they bud and blossom, which is lovely, but then blossoms die.

In the summer, they are slowly producing fruit. This takes all summer. In the autumn, they are harvested and then they begin to close down and turn inward for another winter season.

No wonder I'm getting frustrated with myself! There are no instant results.

So I might as well curl up with Jesus and rest quietly and enjoy Him- and the sunshine and the rain and the quietness.

March 17, 2012 Unpublished

Still sometimes wrestling with guilt. Went to bed and Jesus was there, and I rested in Him and in His love.

He is beyond understanding. I don't understand Him. Jesus tells me that He doesn't see me the way I see myself. And then I read an article today that talked about how Jesus sees us as a finished work.

It must be true. Jesus is so much larger than anything we can possibly imagine. He's large enough to encompass the entire world, every person and all of history. He's that large, He's that powerful, He's that mysterious.

I woke up and I felt Jesus take me in His arms, and I remembered everything I had thought about the night before- all the guilt about not producing results.

Jesus kept pulling me back to Keith, and how much I meant to Keith, and how much I help and support him in his life.

I kept discounting it because Keith is just one person. So how could that matter, since I'm only helping one person?

But over and over again Jesus impressed me with the knowledge He doesn’t see it that way- to Him, one person is incredibly important. One person is huge. One person is worth everything He has to give.

Jesus is not interested in the numbers game. He is interested in the big picture, and right now, I’m right where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing.

And Jesus is interested in seeing how I express myself- He likes watching my creative expression. He is okay with that. I can do that with my time if I need to- be creative, even if it takes a long time and doesn’t seem to have any larger value. Jesus is not all about efficiency.

Is this not a really, really puzzling thing about God? He is not interested in efficiency. That’s perfectly obvious if one reads His book. Nothing that He did is terribly efficient, or makes perfect sense- even when He does a perfect work.

It’s messy, it's not very well explained, always though faith, takes a long time, has weird details- walk around Jericho seven times? Stand in the river? Make paste out of spit and dust? Run alongside someone’s chariot? Years in a dungeon, years in the wilderness, a hundred years old by the time Isaac arrives, generation after generation after generation before Jesus arrives.

I mean goodness! He does things in a mysterious way.

So that’s what I’ve been learning. Jesus loves me. He sees me as a finished work and right now, I’m living right where He wants me to be, even if all I’m doing is keeping the house clean, managing the bills, cooking meals, taking walks, writing blogs.

How unexpected He is!

March 17, 2012

I finished The Weight of Glory. It took me a while to work out C.S. Lewis' meaning in some passages, but it was well worth the effort. I kept turning down the corners of pages, so I could go back and read them again:

"May we not, by a reasonable analogy, suppose likewise that there is no experience of the spirit so transcendent and supernatural, no vision of Deity Himself so close and so far beyond all images and emotions, that to it also there cannot be an appropriate correspondence on the sensory level? Not by a new sense but by the incredible flooding of those very sensations we now have with a meaning, a transvaluation, of which we have here no faintest guess?"

I do so suppose.

"So it is and so it must be. That is the humiliation of myth into fact, of God into Man; what is everywhere and always, imageless and ineffable, only to be glimpsed in dream and symbol and the acted poetry of ritual becomes small, solid- no bigger than a man who can lie asleep in a rowing boat on the Lake of Galilee. You may say that this, after all, is a still deeper poetry. I will not contradict you."

I tell you what, that deeper poetry will steal your heart and soul away.

"Equality is a quantitative term and therefore love often knows nothing of it. Authority exercised with humility and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live."

I don't know quite what he is saying here, but it sounds very attractive. In my experience, obedience can be delightful when the authority is humble- usually because the authority is humble.

And then, just because I haven't thrown enough quotes at you this morning, here is a last one, from Richard Rohr:

"When all of our idols are taken away, all our securities and defense mechanisms, we find out who we really are. We're so little, so poor, so empty—and a shock to ourselves. But God takes away our shame, and we are eventually able to present ourselves in an honest and humble form. Then we find out who we really are and who God is for us—and it is more than enough."

-Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 130, day 140

March 18, 2012 Unpublished

I had a sudden, ridiculously obvious insight this morning.

I was remembering those times when I was in my late teens when I felt distant from God. I interpreted this to mean that I was displeasing Him, so I searched around for what could be displeasing to Him.

Knowing me, you can guess that such things were easy to think I had discovered. I threw away objects, music, ideas, dreams- anything, in fact, that my guilt could get hold of. And my religious guilt, if let loose, can grab hold of anything and everything.

This placated the guilt and calmed the anxiety, and those sensations I interpreted as God's favor. Eventually, however, my guilt and anxiety began again to rise, and eventually to trigger the cycle all over again.

Have you ever seen that interesting show "Hoarders"? I love that show. I love seeing the horrible chaos and brokenness transformed. Usually there is so much grief behind the rubble.

In the show, sometimes the therapist does an exercise with the person. The therapist takes one item from the hoard and either takes it away, or asks the person to imagine that it is being used improperly or taken away by someone else.

This raises the person's anxiety to a nearly unbearable level, but what does the therapist do?

She asks the person to sit with it. She doesn't take it away, she doesn't alleviate or placate the anxiety, and eventually, the anxiety goes back down to a more manageable level on its own.

This way, the person learns that they can handle their own emotional reactions, instead of being dictated to by them.

I think this is what Jesus is doing with me lately. My old religious guilt and anxiety has been, for some reason, at a fairly high level lately- for the past week or so.

You can probably tell from the blogs I've been writing, as I've been processing my unfinished state and my impatience with this. I want Jesus to change those things right away. I don't understand how He can be with me and not do that.

So I'm constantly tempted to do something about it- to attempt to alter myself, on my own, in my own power, on my own time line. In essence, to do something, anything, to placate the religious anxiety.

Instead, I'm being asked to sit with it- to sit in the tension of knowing myself to be small, weak and poor- and to feel the accompanying religious anxiety and guilt- while at the same time, knowing myself to be wholly loved and wholly accepted by God.

This sounds easy, but it is awfully hard to do. There is the constant temptation to take an object, any object, out of Jesus' hands and frantically fix it myself, there is the constant temptation to tell myself that He cannot love me as I am, and there is the constant temptation to believe that He requires my help instead of my surrender.

But I'm certain now that if I can just sit with this anxiety and merely notice it, that eventually this anxiety and guilt will ebb away and I will be released from it.

I will do this over and over again until the feeling has no power over me. I'm pretty sure now that this discipline will eventually produce in me a truly lovely combination of humility and joy, long suffering and love.

This is clearly, for me, a central life lesson and I think all my life I will be growing into greater skill at managing it.

March 20, 2012 Unpublished

I was feeling pretty miserable about something and wondering how to work through the feeling. And Jesus opened His arms and said, Complain to Me. It was a lovely offer, given with such easy simplicity.

Like lightening, I remembered that verse- cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

So it was as though I dropped my head dramatically upon His shoulder and flung my arms up over His shoulders and said something like "Gahhh!"

Only, I was so filled with love for Him that my frustration faded fast.

At one point, I thought of Him, and just thinking of Jesus filled me with a poignant longing and some kind of uncertainty- are You still here, do You still love me, am I ok?

I tilted my head up and called His name, wistfully, and Jesus was there, and He bundled me warmly up in something- a robe or cloak, so lovingly.

March 20, 2012

Lately, Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations have been about the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, and I must admit, I wasn't really getting the connections Rohr was pointing out.

Yesterday, he talked about the temptation to turn stones into bread, and last night, I found that I happened to be at that exact spot in Luke.

I thought, "Hmm," and read on.

Immediately, I was struck by all sorts of things I had never noticed before.

The first thing I noticed was the word "If":

"If you are the Son the God..."

Wow, did that ever leap out at me!

Jesus was being asked to do something immediate to prove His identity. Now, does that sound familiar, or what?

How often do I feel the same temptation, the need to prove that I am the daughter of God, by some immediate transformation- usually of myself.

I feel the need to turn something in my life that seems unfinished and worthless- like a stone- into something that seems good and acceptable- like bread.

Furthermore, Jesus was being asked to alleviate His suffering- He was starving, after all.

The temptation was to say, if I am a son or daughter of God, I shouldn't have to suffer! All these things that are hurting my feet should be things that feed my belly.

But what does Jesus say?

First of all, He quotes a Scriptures that begins: "Man..."

I was dumb struck at that. Here Jesus is being asked to prove His identity as a Son of God- as the Holy One of Israel, and what does He do? He emphasizes His humanity.

"It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."

He is so supremely confident of His identity in His Father that He apparently doesn't even bother to address the question. Jesus is supremely confident in His identity as the uniquely begotten Son of God. He knows His place in His Father can't be revoked and needs no defense.

This astonished me. I'd never seen that before, but of course, it makes me think of this passage:

"Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,

But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!

Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,

That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

-Philippians 2:6-11, Amplified Bible

Not only did Jesus refuse to prove His identity, but He refused to alleviate His suffering.

Sometimes, suffering is a greater gift than immediate gratification. However, this is a truth that's lived by faith, in the Word of God, because we know that our Father gives life to the dead, and calls those things that do not exist as though they did.

I wonder if that's why, when we lie down with a stone for a pillow, we can sometimes see heaven.

March 22, 2012 Unpublished

Still facing incredible amounts of condemnation, about everything. But, I keep on merely noticing this "passing human show," as Rohr puts it.

It's almost like Jesus is forcing me to accept that He loves me as I am, intrinsically. I don't want to believe this and I keep fighting it; Jesus keeps embracing me just as I am.

I can have intense moments of spiritual awareness and joy, like on my walk yesterday, listening to "O Daughter of Zion, Rejoice!" and then, a mere hour later, feel like a worm.

It's astonishing, these highs and lows. I've been noticing them. One minute, I know myself to be delicious to Jesus, a delicious morsel that He delights in and enjoys and keeps and the next, I feel like a lazy slob.

But Jesus, and who I am in Him, is always the same, regardless.

I wonder who I will be when I know this all the time, no matter what the highs and lows?