Friday, April 6, 2018

April 6th

I never know quite what I will be blogging about now, so I was praying about this a few weeks ago. "People want to see You," I said to Jesus, because it seemed to me that was the best part of anything I've ever written- the things which illuminate Him. So He showed me these two images, which I have written down. 

Here is Jesus in a narrow, shadowed corridor. It's of stone and the stone is whitewashed and rough under it.I know that this is a passage either between separate rooms or separate houses, but I don't know whose house. Jesus is walking down steep, irregular steps with His head bent down and His hand brushing against the wall. This is not because He is unfamiliar with the passage, but because He is lost in thought. His feet find the steps instinctively. The air is damp and cool, full of a musty smell, but Jesus is warmly alive, sun tanned, wearing layers of robes that are homemade and hardy, well kept. He looks healthy and far away from me in place and time. This does not make Him a stranger to me, it just makes it clear that Jesus is a distinct Person.

I see that He is walking toward a closed door. Light is breaking out around the door, making a white, glowing rectangle in the dark. There is a lock to the door, which Jesus opens, and I know that He knows how to make and install such locks, as well as door frames and the doors themselves, as part of His craft. He probably made several locks like it.

He opens the door into blinding sunlight and heat. Directly across from Him is another wall. Everything appears to be orange or yellow or brown and the smells are overpowering- of sheep and dung, dust and things drying in the sun. The road is mud, dried rock hard and dusty. I don't see anyone else, but I can hear the sounds of other people.

Nothing about this startles Jesus. He throws a woven shawl over His head to shield His eyes. The blue thread that has been woven into the hem of it is faded by several years of sun. Jesus walks down the street with a quick step. I don't know where He is going or what He is planning to do.

That's all that I see of that, but then I see Jesus again, in a different place.

Here is Jesus seated in a low room, large enough so that, being all alone, He seems to be in a spacious place, although, if there were others with Him, it would appear close. There is a low wooden table and Jesus is seated on a cushion at the corner of the table. There is a flat sheet on the table and a styla in His hand, but He is not writing. I do not see an inkwell.

Jesus is resting at the center of an outworking of truth. In resting there, He is not thinking in any one human language, because He grasps with perfect knowledge the full understanding of truth. He is understanding this with His whole being. Having without limit the infallible Holy Spirit who authored those words, and being Himself the revelation of those prophesies, He understands the Scriptures from the depths of His Father's heart to their fulfillment, but He reads them as collections of poetry within scrolls.

In this style of poetry, the important aspect of the message was placed in the center of the poems, enhanced by outward layers of parallel context. Jesus composes His poetry in this same way, and He is thinking of one as He sits. He composes it entirely in His thoughts before He writes it. Jesus frames His thoughts in Aramaic and Hebrew words, and it gives Him pleasure to consider the meaning of each, the unique way in which each one presents the truth with particular phrases and tones of meaning. These words and phrases are drawn from the Scriptures, all of which Jesus has memorized and call recall easily and swiftly.

The room where He sits is on the ground floor and communicates through an open door into an inner courtyard. Midmorning sunlight slants into this courtyard and is reflected into the room where Jesus is, so that He does not need a lamp.

In the courtyard is a stone oven, as well as a few women and some very young children. The women are kneeling close to the oven, the children ranging slightly abroad in play. They talk in low, comfortable tones. Some are grinding grain for tomorrow and some are baking bread for today. They toss the loaves into the mouth of the hot oven with expert flicks of the wrist.

The companionable peace of the courtyard is broken when a voice is heard calling through the outside door. It is the voice of a stranger calling for Jesus. The women look toward the room where He has lifted His head. They intend to rise and open the door, but before they can, Jesus has already entered the courtyard. With kind authority, He motions for them to remain where they are, though by rights, He should have waited and let the person be brought to Him. They settle back obediently, on their faces a mix of concern, curiosity and anticipation.

As Jesus is walking across the courtyard, I realize that Peter is also home. I see him sitting up in haste, still half asleep, in another room on the second floor, the voice of the stranger having woken him up. I realize he had been sleeping because he had been fishing the night before. I realize this is because Jesus and His disciples are not on one of their mission trips around Galilee, but are home for a period of time.

When Jesus opens the door, a man speaks to Him. The man is under an urgent strain that comes from bearing up under a distress that he is trying to hide. When he speaks to Jesus, he tries to keep his voice low, but the desperation breaks through it. Behind him is another figure that is pulling away and hiding their head. I know this person has an unclean spirit.

This person is trying to avoid Jesus. I cannot see the face clearly, but I see that Jesus does not wait even to bring the two into the courtyard, but simply speaks to the cringing person in a tone of voice that is quiet and absolute. There is no fuss or frills to Jesus' voice, no doubt and no hesitation. The result is immediate, but I can't see it clearly. I'm beginning to see nothing very well, except that I see that Jesus is bringing the pair into the house with warm welcome.

*

This is something else which I have been seeing of Jesus. I see it when I listen to a particular song. I see Jesus coming down out of the sky, which is all white behind Him. Jesus' arms are open and everything has changed immediately upon His appearance. He is robed in white and gold light. His feet touch the earth, and His authority is absolute, immediately recognized and responded to. Darkness is rolling away from Him in billows. In the darkness is violence, oppression, agony, sorrow, despair, blight.

As it rolls off the ground and away in all directions away from Jesus, Christians who were oppressed and suffering under this spring up, their faces turned toward the light of Jesus, tears of joy and relief pouring down their faces. These are Christians who are alive now, but also they are rising up out of the earth itself, generations of them.

Their joy is not just in seeing Jesus, though that is so great as to be inexpressible, but also because the whole family of God is coming together, and no one is missing. They are realizing that all their agony which they were suffering because of His name, is going to be forgotten in the joy of seeing their Savior face to face and being forever in the family of God, their brothers and sisters who love with pure, open hearts.

I usually end of crying myself, because of the intensity of this relief, as well as knowing that all suffering is completely at an end, even the suffering of the earth itself. I end up praying that the Lord encourage His people and help them to stand strong in His name, knowing the hope of their redemption, the fullness of their salvation, that we know how the story ends and the end is not far off now.

The last time I saw this, it was the beginning of this week. At that time, as I was listening to this song, I was caught up in some great agony of grief, a very human agony. It was of mothers, older women who were crushed in spirit because of the suffering of their children. Because of the intensity of their grief, and because of the length and extent of their suffering and their children's suffering, their faith was sinking further and further down and they were ashamed. They felt that they were failing Jesus and that He was ashamed of them and that they could no longer turn to Him, because they had lost all strength under the weight of the burden that was crushing them.

I was feeling all this and at the same time, I was caught up in something like a great force of wind, except that I knew it was from Jesus, and it was His own Spirit, and it carried all His great, unbroken love and compassion toward these crushed ones and I knew absolutely that Jesus was not ashamed of them, but that He fiercely treasured them and that there was some great spiritual vitality that was coming from Him toward them as a result of the suffering and weakness, and that they did not need even to try and pick themselves up off the floor, but in their weakness, Jesus' strength was being perfected in them, in a spiritual way which makes no sense to us.

I also see a line of other people trying to stand up obediently in response to what they know Jesus is asking them to do. These people have been battered and broken and they have suffered a lot through their own mistakes and they have no confidence in themselves at all, in fact, they are outright frightened. I can see them trembling, and some have trouble getting up from their knees in order to stand upright, because they know, in their own strength, they will fall.

But they are trying to stand because they love Jesus so much, and they long to be obedient and so they are willing to face incredible amounts of fear in order to rise up and stand. I know something about them that they don't- I know that Jesus will take ground for His Kingdom through them in great spiritual power. They may never realize this themselves, because they will not be able to take their eyes off Jesus even to look around them. I end up praying a great deal for these people, often in tears, praying that the Holy Spirit help lift them out of the oppression that has held them down, and to give them strength to obey Jesus' voice.

Here is a lesson I have been learning, which is along the same lines- that obedience is necessary above everything, even good intentions. I have been unable to wake up every morning at five in order to have devotions, and when I am unable to do so, I struggle with guilt most of the day, because I think I should have sacrificed my sleep in order to meet with Him, even though He told me to sleep. It has sometimes taken me almost the whole day to be grateful for the gift.

Sometimes Jesus has been waking me in the middle of the night. I wake up peacefully, wide awake, and unable to go back to sleep. I'm beginning to realize that's when Jesus wants to spend time with me, and when I do my devotions at that time, Jesus meets me in heady ways. His presence is enveloping, there is hardly any distraction and I don't fall back asleep, which happens a lot if I try and force myself up at the same time each morning to be with Him.

There are times when Jesus calls us into a disciplined routine in order to grow us in that, but right now, Jesus has been teaching me to be peacefully obedient, and not to rely on a schedule, which is quite hard for me to do.

Lastly, Jesus has been impressing on me the power and truth of the Gospel. He has been highlighting this in particular against the back ground of the society in which I live, which is, among other things, post modern, Western and humanistic. I had absorbed more of these attitudes and philosophies than I had realized, and they had become a mostly unconscious part of my worldview. They have needed to come off in order for me to understand what it means to repent and believe the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Here are some of the things that Jesus had made quite real to me, in terms of the Gospel-

We did not create ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. We are not our own lords. The future is not in our hands. Things are not getting better because of our efforts. There is a God. There is one, particular, true God. He is not found in all religions. There is only one name by which we might be saved, and that is through Jesus Christ.

No other religion or beliefs will take one to God. It is not kind to say so, because it is not true. Because we did not create ourselves, we do not create the rules by which we live. We live in an order created by the God who created us. We can live opposed to Him, or we can live in harmony with Him, but we cannot recreate ourselves or the world.

If we say there is no God, it does not make it true, and it puts us on a collision course with Reality, which we will meet face to face at the end of our lives, when there will be no more time to pretend.

We do not want to meet with God at the end of a lifetime of denying Him out of pride or fear or rebellion. Every excuse and justification which was told to us, or that we told ourselves, that kept us away from God, that kept us from bowing before Him in sorrowful and humble acknowledgement of the things we did that were wrong, none of those philosophies or thoughts or beliefs will hold any weight in the light of the presence of God. We will look into the eyes of Jesus and those things will melt away like mist.

There will be unbearable regret, grief and sorrow to realize those things when one's whole life has already passed by, and everything meaningful that could have been done for God and with God is no longer a possibility.

There is no need for this to happen- that is what it means to repent and believe the good news. The good news is that God is offering us forgiveness and release from sins, and that He has reconciled Himself to us and He is holding out His hand, wanting us to reconcile with Him.

Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
-Matthew 7:13-14

It's not easy to hear these things, but it's not kindness and it's not compassion to refrain from speaking the truth for fear of hurting someone's feelings. Life is too short and fleeting.

There is not a broad road that leads to Life. That is a lie, and it is a lie that leads to spiritual death. The way to life is through Jesus Christ alone. He accepts any who come to Him. He will not turn aside any.

He knows you by name. He knows your whole life. He has felt with you all your sufferings and every single terrible thought, word and deed that you have ever done towards Himself and towards others and towards yourself. He knows all this, because He took it upon Himself on the cross, and paid the price of those things, in order to offer you freely forgiveness and fellowship with Him. This is a free gift. He did this out of love, because He created you. He knew you in His thoughts before He created the world. You are irreplaceable to Him.

To repent is to lay down the pride that prevents us from acknowledging pride, rebellion, selfishness and all the wrongs that would haunt us otherwise- to repent is to let go of trying to justify or hide or to deny, but instead, to acknowledge these things in the sight of God, with the natural upwelling of grief that comes as a result of this vulnerability and honesty of soul.

To believe the Good News is to put your whole trust in Jesus to forgive you and to give you new and lasting life, an eternal life in the presence of God, which is the relationship with us that He longed for when He first brought this world into existence. Jesus has, can and will save you because He is Himself God, because saving us is His deepest desire and His joy, because He accomplished all that was needed for our coming to life and coming to God and become new again through His death on the cross and through His resurrection from the dead. We trust Him completely because He has become our Lord, and we belong to Him. To do this is to become like a little child, which feels awkward or embarrassing or risky.

However, it is possible for pride- intellectual pride, pride of accomplishments, pride of place in this world, to become a spiritual burial shroud, if it is not cast off. Cast off anything that would keep you from Jesus. Cast them off now, because they will dissolve away in a moment at the end of this life when there is no more time.

I don't know who I am writing this for, because I would guess that whoever is reading my blog already has a deep and enduring relationship with Jesus Christ. However, this is the last thing I was shown to include in this post, so I have written it out as best I can.

But for whomever I am writing, please do not turn aside from this to whatever is already pulling you away. Don't turn away into the broad and pleasing path that seems to offend no one, have no consequences and that promises fulfillment and goodness and freedom. None of those things are truly and lastingly possible except through Jesus. If we choose to go with the flow of this world and all it says and all it thinks right, we will end up far from God, lonely and bewildered.

Right now, all over the world, people who call Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior, are choosing to suffer and die rather than disown Him. They cry out His name before being beheaded on beaches. They are killed one by one on the steps of a bus, as each refuses to deny Him. They are blown to pieces in churches where they have gone to worship Him. They are mown down by machine guns, by blades and beaten to death. They are imprisoned without hope of release. They die of starvation and exposure. They are raped and forced into arranged marriages or sold as sex slaves. They are hated and abandoned by their own family members. Instead of retaliating, they ask Jesus to help them forgive their enemies. Instead of the number of Christians shrinking, the number is growing. More and more people are following Him. They come to Him through dreams, through reading the Bible, through the Gospel given to them at great risk. This is happening in India, Nigeria, Syria, Iran, China, North Korea, and many other places. This is happening right now, in our lifetime.

If they were to deny Him, if they were to take up another religion, this suffering would end. But they don't.

Why?

There is a God. You may know Him and come to Him through Jesus Christ, who is a real Person, living and active, who is guiding history to a time where all this suffering will come to an end and even the memory of it will be taken away. God has not left us alone.

Repent and believe the Good News.










































Friday, March 2, 2018

March 2nd

This is a slightly different sort of blog post- it's not a journal entry or a section of writing. I had an experience in the last month or so that has led to a change in the way I have been praying, and what I will do is share that experience and then share a prayer that has come about because of it.

About a month ago, the Lord led me through one of the most intense battles I have ever had with fear of the future, over things that I cherish most. I had to be willing to face a worst case scenario in order to walk steadily toward the best possible ending.

I did not do very well in this battle. Countless times I succumbed to fear, sometimes all night long I was oppressed by the fears of what might occur. Jesus was very kind to me in my weakness and each time, His mercy was new every morning.

As time went by, fear and anxiety was slowly burned off of me, as I had to trust Jesus no matter what terrible prospect I was facing. Eventually, I was able to surrender to Jesus things that I had not even known that I was trying to hold on to.

At a critical point, after this surrender to Him, Jesus stepped in and simply turned the whole battle on a dime. First, that giant was stunned, then it fell and it was helpless. I have no idea how Jesus did this. I just watched it happen.

For a day or so afterward, I was too shy to speak directly to Jesus in prayer, because of the knowledge of His power and sovereignty, and the fact that He is the Living God. After this, Jesus set to work refining me further, cutting down through things that had become dull around my heart. Then He set my heart on fire.

One day during this time, I was working out downstairs, as I was in the habit of doing almost every day. I was getting stronger and able to run for longer distances, but on this particular day, I was falling short and reaching a point of exhaustion.

I was listening to music to help motivate me to continue on, but the music itself was not compelling. I desperately wanted to hear different kind of song, one that would help me go on, but the right songs weren't coming.

I began to be certain that I was going to end up failing, and as this feeling grew in me, Jesus began speaking to me through two Scriptures- "For lack of a vision, my people fail," He was repeating to me with urgency, and, "If they do not sound the trumpet clearly, how will they know to assemble?"

I was strongly convicted and moved by this message because of the strength of Jesus' voice, the intensity with which He conveyed it to me, and because I was feeling this message in myself, exhausted and ready to give up when I knew I should continue on. I was in tears. Then I stopped and changed the music. The change was swift. I was able to continue and to go on farther than before.

Since that time, I have returned to the discipline of praying the Scriptures. The word of God is an unmistakable call. It provides a clear vision. This has had a powerful, immediate effect upon my prayers, both on my own and with my prayer partners.

The Holy Spirit has been helping me put together several prayers, but this one that I am being asked to share here is one particularly for spiritual warfare. I have written this as though praying in a group, but I have also, when led by the Holy Spirit, prayed it while during my private prayers.

I have placed brackets where specific things may be named, and if, being led by the Holy Spirit, you use this prayer, I would recommend naming things specifically. This is about seven pages long, but not all of the prayer needs to be said at one time, though it can be.

There is one other thing. Around this time, I was working outside in the woods. My husband and I have been clearing them out of overgrown bushes since we bought the property. It has been slow work. At first, I was able only to reach the outer branches of brambles and bushes. That done, I was able to cut all the branches down to the trunk. The trunks themselves were too thick to cut, and I had to leave them until my husband could cut them down with a tool that I wasn't strong enough to use.

The next summer, the bushes grew back from the stumps. I was amazed at how quickly they grew. I tried to uproot a few of them, but I could not get down through the hard ground easily. I was thrilled that I managed to get rid of four or five.

Lately, it is been very rainy here and the ground has grown soft. I went out a week or so ago and began working on the stumps again. This time, I pulled out over ten in about one hour. Some of the roots I was able to pull up with only my hands. Some required the sharp edge of a shovel, but after the roots were cut, I was able to lift the whole mass up, shake the loose dirt off, and toss the thing into the trailer, to be hauled away.

Between this and the giant that the Lord laid out for my family, I wonder if it might be time for taking ground for the Kingdom of God after a long season of perseverance. The Holy Spirit will make it clear, if it is.

*

Lord Jesus, here are Your servants who have gathered obediently to do Your will. Before we take up Your holy work, we humbly ask that You send down Your Holy Spirit now to search our hearts and convict us of any sin, and take from us any hidden faults or crooked ways- Lord Jesus, if there be anything in us that is lifted above You or Your will, in Your mercy, Savior, show us so and humble us and restore to us a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. Lord, wash us and cleanse us in the blood of the Lamb, that we might have pure hearts of gratitude, faith and trust, and clean hands to take up Your work.

Lord Jesus, we fully acknowledge that apart from You, we can do nothing. But we are not here to do anything of ourselves, we are here because You have called us. You have granted us the privilege of doing Your work on this earth- as You were sent, so You have sent us, and we love You, Lord Jesus, precious Savior and King, and our hearts burn that You should be glorified on earth as You are in Heaven, and that truth prevail in Your church and that You receive everything that You deserve because of Your great sacrifice on the cross.

Lord Jesus, we acknowledge that You are our Lord and Master, and we are Your loving bondservants. We have given You our entire lives and we gladly and trustingly submit entirely to You, Lord Jesus. You have bought us with Your precious blood, and we are not our own. You have redeemed us and taken us out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of Heaven.

You have given us the very Spirit of the Living God, Your own Spirit, to indwell us, and we put our whole dependence on Him now to guide us in Your work, to give us eyes to see in the dark, and to give us the sword of Your word and to show us how to direct and strike with that sword, knowing that the life and the power and the glory are Yours, Lord Jesus.

We are Your Body here on earth and when Your Father and our Father raised You, Lord Jesus from the dead, He seated You at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, all power and dominion, and above every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And the Eternal and Living God placed all things under Your feet, Lord Jesus, and appointed You to be head over everything for the church, which is Your body, the fullness of You who fills everything in every way. We recognize that we are a part of that Body, called by Your name, connected to You as a branch to the Living Vine.

Because of this, we are resolved to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. We put on the full armor of God, taking our stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We stand with the belt of truth buckled around our waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. We take up the shield of faith, with which we will extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. We take on the helmet of salvation and with reverent love and trust, we take up the sword of the Holy Spirit, which is the word of God.

We declare that we have been crucified with Christ, and no longer do we live, but Christ lives in us, and the life we live, we live to Christ Jesus our Lord. Our Lord Jesus said to us, Do not be afraid, for I have overcome the world.

And we declare right now, that we are not afraid. In anything, any trial or tribulation, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. We have been chosen by God according to His purpose, and anything that comes against us will only be used by God to conform us to the image of His dear Son, and will in the end, give glory to God. Every day of our life has been written by the hand of the Living God and we trust Him with our whole hearts. All that we have belongs to our Lord and is under His authority.

We stand on this truth- our Lord Jesus has disarmed the rulers and authorities, those supernatural forces of evil operating against us, and Jesus Christ made a public example of them- exhibiting them as captives in His victory procession, having triumphed over them through the cross.

We take up the weapons Jesus has given us- they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We will demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The keys of absolute control and victory over death and of Hades is in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has broken through our enemies before us, like a breakthrough of water- He is our Master of Breakthroughs. The Messiah has opened the way and goes up before us, liberating His own, and we break out after Him, passing through the gate and going out, as our King goes on before us- The Lord Jesus is at our head! We follow Him wherever He goes.


“Is not My word like fire that consumes all that cannot endure the test?” says the Lord God, “and like a hammer that breaks the most stubborn rock in pieces?”

And we declare, Yes, Lord Jesus Christ, Your word is a fire that consumers all that cannot endure the test, and Your word is a hammer that breaks the most stubborn rock in pieces.

“Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel;
I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.

“In fact, I have made of you a new threshing implement with sharp edges;
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
And make the hills like chaff.

“You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away,
And a high wind will scatter them;
But you will rejoice in the Lord,
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.”
(Isaiah 41:14-16)

And we glory in You, Lord Jesus Christ! We shout Your praise! We cry out, we cry out, Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest, You mighty to save! Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior! He saves to the uttermost! Nothing withstands Him! He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings and we glory in Him!

Worthy is the Lamb! Worthy is the Lamb who sits on the throne, to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.

When our Lord Jesus was walking on this earth, He said to us, "Listen carefully: I have given you authority that you now possess to tread on serpents and scorpions, and the ability to exercise authority over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will in any way harm you. Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

And we do rejoice!

Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord! Sing him a new song. Sing his praises, all his people.

O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King.

Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by drums and lyre.

For Jehovah enjoys his people; he will save the humble. Let his people rejoice in this honor. Let them sing for joy as they lie upon their beds.

Adore him, O his people!

And take a double-edged sword to execute his punishment upon the nations.

Bind their kings and leaders with iron chains,

and execute their sentences.

He is the glory of his people. Hallelujah! Praise him!

(Psalm 149, TLT)

Right now we declare the truth that what is bound on earth is bound in Heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth is loosed in Heaven. Your Kingdom come, Lord Jesus; Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

(----), the Lord Jesus Christ rebukes you through His Body, the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ has disarmed you through the cross and thrown you down from the places where you thought to exalt yourself against His name. The holy light of heaven shines down right into the midst of your tangle of darkness. The word of the Lord Jesus falls on this stronghold, tearing down and breaking it in pieces, this stronghold breaks into chaff before the Lord Jesus Christ and the winds of the Holy Spirit blow it away. We declare in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that you are bound in chains on earth and in heaven, for the power and the glory and the Kingdom belong to Christ Jesus.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command (---), to withdraw entirely from this (place). Judgment has been passed on you and you have been rendered null and void by the cross. We command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to go out into the dry places and there await the final judgment of the Living God. This battle is already won.

Let the heavens join in praising the wonderful works of the Eternal.
    The holy ones have gathered, singing of Your faithfulness.

For there is no one above who compares to the Eternal,
    not one of heaven’s creatures is like Him in the least.

In the council of holy ones, God is lifted high and feared;
    His presence overwhelms all who are near Him.

O Eternal God, Commander of heaven’s armies,
    who is mighty like You?
You are completely faithful; that’s why we trust You.

The ocean waters are at Your command.
    When violent waves rise up, You still them.

You defeated Rahab, that ancient monster of chaos,
    and left it lifeless.
    You routed Your enemies and scattered them by Your great arm of power.

Everything in the sky above and the earth below are Yours.
    The world and all it contains are Yours, for You created them all.

Everything was created by You—the north, the south—
    the mountains of Tabor and Hermon echo joyously the song of Your name.

Your arm is strong.
    Your grip is powerful.
    Your right hand is raised up high.

Your rule is rooted deeply in justice and righteousness—
    unfailing love and truth lead from the way ahead of You.

How happy are those who have learned how to praise You;
    those who journey through life by the light of Your face.

Every hour of the day, they rejoice at the sound of Your name.
    They are lifted up and encouraged by Your righteousness.

For You are the beauty of their strength.
    On account of Your favor, our strength, our horn, is increased.

For our shield of protection comes from the Eternal,
    and the Holy One of Israel has given us our King.
(Psalm 89:5-18)

Now we with these delivered we will a new song to You, Lord Jesus-

We will sing to You-

Others had ruled over us,
You, Lord Jesus, have brought them all to ruin.
They lie helpless in the dust, lifeless, without hands or feet or mouth.
Just as the idol fell on its face before the ark of the Lord,
so anything that exalts itself against the Living God
must fall down under the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The mountain that was lifted up against the Lord Jesus
has been made chaff before His face, which shines brighter than the sun.

All that were incensed against us are as nothing,
as a nonexistent thing.
Even the memory of them is taken from us,
because You have won the victory for us, Lord Jesus.

Lord Jesus, You will not let us be put to shame!

No one who looks to You will ever be ashamed:

Everyone who looks to You, Lord Jesus, will be radiant with joy
because of the perfect beauty of Your faithfulness and redemption.
All thanks to You, Heavenly Father, for sending the Son!

We are looking to You with no shadow of shame and radiant with joy,
because You have sat down at the right hand of Abba.
All authority and dominion to You, Lamb of God!

We are looking to You with no shadow of shame and radiant with joy,
because of the glory of God radiating from Your face.
All honor and praise to You, Incarnate Light of God!

We are looking to You with no shadow of shame and radiant with joy,
Because Your face is shining in our hearts, unveiled, as we behold You there.
All trust and adoration to You, indwelling Holy Spirit of God!

Beholding You, we are passing from glory to glory, growing into Your likeness.
Praise and honor and glory be to the Living God-
because You have sent Your Son that we might be redeemed by His blood,
brought back into the image of His Father and our Father, His God and our God.

Your words, Lord Jesus, You are laying up living in our hearts,
because You are writing them there Yourself,
building up and hallowing Your holy dwelling place within us.
Beloved Jesus, You live in us and we in You,
that we might be with You now
and always,
that we might reverence and adore and obey You,
together made a living city for Your dwelling place, made for Your glory.

Receive the glory, Lord, receive the praise, receive all that You are worth.

In Your name we pray, Lord Jesus. So be it.


















Thursday, February 1, 2018

February 2nd


This is the first section of the story of the Gospels that I have slowly been working on. It's about all that I have managed to do so far and will no doubt undergo a lot of change as I keep writing. 

*

The only sound she heard was her own heavy, harsh breathing. She ran through streaks of light and dark, she ran in the watery shadows beneath the trees, the tops turning gold with the dawn, the sky a blue growing light between ragged streaks of black cloud. Above her ran the steep hill, the stone of it hollowed out into narrow homes for the dead.

Higher yet, upon the bare brow of the hill were the dead and dying splayed out upon the blood stained and splintered olive wood, their wretched bodies meant to be left as carrion for crows, no relative to gather their bones with honor, with care, and lay them with their ancestors in ossuaries, nothing for them but agony and ignominy in death under the name of Pax Romana.

The first Caesar, the Emperor of the world, had named and adopted his heir many years before, and now Tiberius was Caesar, the son of the deity, and all the coins of his kingdom were set with his face and title. He ruled the world from Rome, set amid her seven hills, her founders, it was said, suckled by a she wolf.

Amid everything else that he had inherited was one small country whose people served a God whose image could not be captured in stone or wood, and whose name was so holy it could not be spoken, and whose history was replete with stories of bondage and deliverance. Even now, they were waiting and all their stories and all their rituals, feasts and holy days marked for them the history of salvation, and the resolution toward which their God, who was the only Living God, was bringing them.

In this country, on one particular day early in the morning, a woman was running through a garden. She had forgotten everything in her delirium but one thing, that one thing pounding in her chest, filling her with both terror and joy.

She did not see the other women, dark and cloaked in the path ahead of her, until she collided into them. These two were dulled by grief and bewildered wonder. For a moment, all was a confusion of beating hearts and lost balance on the path. Their voices were sharp with surprise, but muted with fearful caution as they caught her.

They spoke in a language shaped by years of captivity in a foreign land, the syllables sometimes soft and sometimes guttural. As they spoke, the holy city on its own hill just across the brook Kidron was beginning to stir and awaken after a prolonged Sabbath, the blood of thousands of slaughtered lambs sacrificed three days before having run down through the city and into the waste valley of Hinnom, where everything unclean was slowly, endlessly burned in smoldering heaps.

With trembling, impatient hands, the runner pulled her hair away from her face, staring and unworldly in the dawn light. She could not speak, but she stared intently into the face of one of the other women. This woman was older and her face bore the ravages of terrible suffering. The scars left by suffering were recent, and while they were carved right through her soul, they could not move the foundation of peace that was laid in her spirit. This peace was shining from her deep set eyes, because for a second time, a messenger of the Living God had announced to her news of great joy, and she was holding this joy like a warm coal within her, the joy beginning to melt the severe trauma of the last three days.

This coal in her now burst into flame and she could not remain silent. She clasped her worn hands together tightly and sang, these words in a language far more ancient than that of captivity, the words written in the Law and read from the scroll, the words spoken by the forefathers loved by the Living God, the sound and shape of the words that had been carved by His own finger into the rock of the mountain, where they had been led by Him out of slavery and drudgery and death, the mountain covered by the fire of the Almighty One, and trembling with the weight of His glory. She herself knew what it was to stand shaking before the holy light of God.

“Oh, how I praise the Lord! How I rejoice in God my Savior!” she sang with fierce joy. ““How powerful is his mighty arm! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has torn princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry hearts and sent the rich away with empty hands.”

The second woman looked from one to the other, eyes wide. “What? What?” she whispered to the younger.

“It’s true, what they said,” she whispered through trembling lips. “He’s alive. I saw Him.”

They stood there, looking at one another in a fear of God too great for words, as the implication of what they had seen and heard began to swell in their hearts. The entire world had been remade. Life and death, heaven and hell, what it meant to be human, what it meant to belong to God- everything had been turned inside out and was remade. They stood in a new world. In that moment, only they knew it.

*

The evening was clear and quiet, the breeze cool. The air was full of the sound of keening insects and the buzzing of thousands of fat yellow bees bumbling from flower to flower. The winter rains had left the landscape covered in green and brilliant yellow, in blowing pink and white wildflowers. From hills farther away came the faint bleating of sheep as they were brought home for the night. The sky above was cerulean blue, rising without end toward the zenith and falling into a golden tinge toward the west where the sun was slowly making its burning way toward the Mediterranean Sea by way of Mount Carmel.

A small group of men were walking in single file up the narrow path to the top of the hill. Against the sky and the towering hillsides, they were not tall figures, bent forward against the steep slope. The setting sun turned their dusty robes ochre and their skin bronze, illuminating profiles and burnishing their dark and curling hair and beards. The eldest was last in line, his leather satchel of tools slung over his shoulder, his head bare to the breeze. His eyes were amber brown, flecked with gold, unsettling in the brilliance and clarity of his thoughts. Though he was at the height of his strength, he was no longer a young man, and years of labor and sun had worn lines around his eyes and mouth, left his hands hardened with callouses.

All day he had been shaping rough logs into ceiling beams down in the growing city of Sepphoris, some four miles north of his village, and much closer to sea level. The work was monotonous and physically demanding. His body ached from the back of his neck to the soles of his feet, but he walked steadily up the hill with the long strides of one who was accustomed to hard labor and long distances.

Just at the brow of the steep hill, he dropped his satchel unceremoniously at his feet and brought the side of his hand to his mouth. A splinter was lodged there, stuck between his thumb and first finger. It had been there since the late afternoon. As he worked at the splinter with his chipped fingernails, one of his brothers turned back and gave him an questioning look.

“Go on,” he said to the younger man. His voice was gentle, the words were spoken swiftly in the rural and colorful dialect of upper Galilee.

“You’ll be late.”

“I won’t.”

“Don’t stay out all night; you’ll worry her.”

“I won’t.”

“You’re the eldest. She depends on you,” Jacob insisted, his back held straight, his eyes intent. Some old, unspoken complaint lay at the back of his insistence, but it could not be spoken and he himself was hardly conscious of his own feeling.

Exasperation, fed by his physical exhaustion, flared up in Yeshua, but he let it burn away, leaving behind a kind of well-worn but comfortable patience. He looked up and into the younger man’s eyes with a glint of humor.

“Thank you for reminding me. I won’t be late.”

Jacob paused, but already Yeshua’s thoughts were far away from him. In his experience, you either had his whole attention directed at one like the point of a sword, or none of it at all, and sitting beside him then was like sitting beside a sun warmed stone wall. Sighing, Jacob turned and went on his way home.

Left alone, Yeshua crouched down on the side of the track and worked at the splinter until he had gotten it out. When he looked up, the whole valley below him was dipped into shadow, the hill tops streaked with light. Soon the lights of Capernaum, far to the northeast and Sepphoris to the north west would be glittering out in the gathering dark, able to be seen even at such distances.

He stood up with a slow, exhausted movement and turned toward home. Built into the hillside opposite him and near the top, was the small village of Nazareth. At the bottom of the valley, in the fertile soil, was set grain fields and small vegetable plots. Rising upward toward the mountain slope were terraces of grape vines and above them, the rows of olive trees, the leaves still holding the light and appearing to move even in the still air. Near the olive trees, rising two stories up, stood the stone dovecote. Groups of the birds lifted from the rocky ledges, circling through the air.

Yeshua tipped his head back and looked above the mountains to the eastern sky. The moon had risen, and was shining there, pale and white, almost full but thin as an old coin. His spirit went winging up beyond in effortless love until his bright eyes closed, hiding in his heart the elation that he knew. “Abba,” he whispered, the sound hardly disturbing the bees that worked busily around him in the growing twilight, but heard like a shout in the unseen vaults of heaven.

Echoes of some hidden glory seemed always to be heard within the depths of his spirit, a chorus just out of distinct hearing, but the melody heard to him haunting and unearthly. Certain passages of the Torah set off a thundering in his soul, like the shout of a thousand voices or the pounding hooves of an army cresting just over the hill.

He remembered hearing the words of the Servant Songs said one Sabbath as he sat amid his brothers, the progression of prophesy causing chills of apprehension, certainty and sorrow to wash over him in waves until the waters closed over his head and he was alone in the silence that surrounded the words. Even then, a bright circle of light remained wavering above him, showing him the way back to the surface.

This year, at thirty years old, he would be of age to enter the counsel of the village. Unofficially, they had been seeking his wisdom for over a decade, and sometimes lately, even people outside of the village had come looking for his counsel. He knew he stood on the edge of some great change, and that there was not much more time left of this life he had known.

As he stood on the hilltop, he remembered his first conscious memory, set amid a blurred landscape of tall river reeds, strong sun and the smell of mud. The memory was of his mother’s face in the night as he rested in perfect peace in her arms as she sang to him, her voice a murmur of Hebrew. The clay lamp was lit and casting a glow of amber around them, but it was not what he saw that he remembered so much, though he thought his mother’s face beautiful. It was what he knew. He knew that beyond the amber glow , beyond the dark Egyptian night, there was a place of uncreated, unchanging light that enthroned the very source of his being, the source and yet the same as himself, where he had come from and where he was going to return, and where he would always be rooted, because he and his Father were one. The joy of this was settled as bedrock and endless like the sky, and yet he was breathing the humid night air, his little ribcage moving up and down, listening to the resonant sound of his mother’s voice, feeling the weight of gravity hold them to the packed earth of the room.

Remembering this, he smiled and drew a long breath. There would be warm stew thick with spring vegetables and lentils for dinner and he was hungry. Picking up his tools and throwing his tallit over his thick, disheveled hair, Yeshua went singing down the hill into the shadows of evening, chanting a psalm in his quiet voice.

I waited patiently for Adonai.
He bent down to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire.
Then He set my feet on a rock.
He made my steps firm.

He put a new song in my mouth—
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and trust in Adonai.

Blessed is the one
who put his confidence in Adonai,
who has not turned to the arrogant,
nor to those who fall into falsehood.

Many things You have done, Adonai my God
—Your plans for us are wonderful—
there is none to be compared to You!
If I were to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to count!

Sacrifice and offering You did not desire
—my ears You have opened—
burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.

Then I said: “Here I am, I have come—
in the scroll of a book it is written about me.

I delight to do Your will, O my God.
Yes, Your Torah is within my being.”

I proclaim good news of righteousness in the great assembly.
Behold, I am not shutting my lips—
Adonai, You know!

I did not hide Your righteousness within my heart.
Rather I declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation.
I did not conceal Your lovingkindness
and Your truth from the great assembly.

Adonai, do not withhold Your compassions from me.
Let Your mercy and Your truth always protect me.
(Psalm 40:1-12, TLV)

The barley was growing in the valley, the first grain to ripen in the year, and the path Yeshua took wound between the fields of silver and green grasses, most of the sheaves gathered. The first of this harvest had been recently offered in the holy city at the feast of Pentecost. The smell of the grapes blossoming filled the air with a sweet, ethereal scent. They would be harvested and crushed much later, after the height of summer. A wine press was built on the hill almost at a level with the city, the great shallow vats dug out of the stone itself, with channels dug to drain the wine from the crushed grapes into holding tanks. Near the open space where the villagers tossed the grain at harvest time was a simple, rectangular stone building. It was set above the other houses and was not for living in, it was for reading and studying the Law.

The people of Nazareth were devout, rural and poor. Almost none of the houses boasted a second story prophet’s room, but most had a cistern built into the courtyard to catch rainwater as it poured off the low walled roofs and through channels, caught and kept for ritual bathing. The cluster of stone houses, each built around a central courtyard, stood close together for protection. The streets were a haphazard and narrow tangle through them, much of them steep stairs built into the hillside. At this time of the year, after the beating of the winter rain, many houses were under repair, the roofs being repacked and resealed.

When Yeshua arrived at his home, he could hear voices from the open courtyard door. His brothers had gone in before him and were now grouped together with their families, deep in conversation. His mother turned her head and saw him. She said nothing aloud, but her expression caused Yeshua’s attention to focus sharply. Sensing the change, his brothers and sisters in law all turned to him in one motion, looking for a moment like a small group of wild deer arrested by a sound in the wilderness. The mixture of fear, respect and even pity on their faces was not an unusual way for Him to be greeted in his own family.

"What?" Yeshua inquired mildly, lifting his eyebrows.

“Your cousin John has come out of the wilderness,” Mary replied, her voice matter of fact.

Yeshua’s motion was stilled, his thoughts flying far away. Then they returned and he looked at his mother.

“He says the Kingdom of God is at hand,” she said.

His eyes filled with a sudden compassion for her. For one moment, her eyes spoke to him eloquently of all she could not say, of the most personal and sacred mysteries decades old and living before her in flesh and blood, and of the words spoken to her amid the smoke and blood of the temple by the strangers who had taken the tiny babe right out of her arms, because he did not belong to her, he belonged to circles so wide and ageless that he had no beginning and no end.

The stillness was broken suddenly by the swift motion of a young boy who could not contain his jubilant expectation any further. All his young life he had heard of the promise of the Kingdom of God. He could not understand the strange hesitance on the part of the adults in considering this. He went running across the courtyard to his uncle, frightening the chickens and startling the donkey that had been fastened inside for the night.

“Uncle! Uncle!” he cried, his face glowing with a breathless joy. “Is the Kingdom of God here? Is it here?”

A slow smile broke over Yeshua’s face. He crouched down before the small boy and leaned forward, his work worn, bearded face holding an innocence and light that was even more pure than the child’s, and sharing the same illumined joy.

“Yes!” he answered.



Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Tide Can Always Go Deeper

This entry from June was written in my journal on that date, but edited and shared on my blog a few years later, in 2015. I have reposted the blog entry. At that time, I was not embedding links into my blog, so the main Scriptures here are written into the post itself.

June 27, 2013

I asked Jesus recently that I thought maybe I should see Him in His official role- as He is beside the Father- Papa. Because I was worried that I was getting a little bit of a lopsided view of Him and that this lopsided view might wrongly impact, among other things, my blog writing. Jesus so often reveals to me His humble and gentle heart, and His grief and suffering, but I know He is a victorious and ruling King, seated at the right hand of the Father.

Then I forgot that I asked Jesus this, because I ask Him so many things that I can’t keep track of them all, and some He answers right away, and some He answers slowly.

So last night I went to Him and was caught up in a bubbling rush of love.

You’ve been learning so much, He said and we were talking and laughing, and everything was all run through by this current of love.

“I have! So much!” I replied in surprised wonder, thinking of all the things I had read that day which were teaching me about His love, and then gave myself over to worshiping Jesus in love, because I could do nothing else for some time. Then I was able to notice the room.

“The lights are different,” I remarked. It appeared to be night and the lights in the rooms were brighter and there were more of them. They seemed to be hung from the ceiling and the walls and some seemed to be floating in the air, like fire flies. It was beautiful.

It’s for a festival, Jesus explained, but He didn’t say which one or for what reason.

“It’s lovely,” I replied, and did not ask for more information, as I assumed I wasn't supposed to know.

We were sitting together by then, mostly quiet. Jesus turned His head and looked at me out of His depthless eyes, full of quiet love and perception, and He said, do you want more?

I think I raised my eyebrows in surprise that Jesus was even asking me this question, as the answer is always yes.

“Yes, I want more. Of course I want more. I want more of You all the rest of my life. I want to see You more and more clearly. I’m asking and I’m seeking and I’m knocking,” I said, smiling at Jesus, because those are His words, and they go right to His heart.

And His face grew so clear as I looked and changed in appearance. His face was clean shaven and bright and His eyes were like flames and His hair was white as snow, and His face was shining with joy and confidence and laughter and strength.

“Oh my goodness,” I said, faintly. “You look… that’s so different…”

But I tried to accept it by faith, and so we went on talking but all the time I was caught up in looking at Him and could hardly focus on what we were saying. We were talking again about learning, and I suddenly had to laugh, because it struck me funny, in a delightful way.

“Of course I am learning!" I said to Jesus merrily. “After all, I spend a lot of time with Wisdom! I love Wisdom very much! It would make sense, then, that I should grow at least a little wise.”

Jesus looked down in that way He has, with that beautiful smile that is tender and humble. Even though His face was glowing and beautiful and different, that expression was the same. I said in relief, “Oh, I know that smile! That’s the same!”

However, at some point, I had to acknowledge that this different appearance of His was unsettling me, so I stood up, as though to look at Jesus from a different angle.

As I stood, I saw I was dressed differently, no longer in a simple white robe, but in a long, wrapped and pleated robe that was more formal than before. I only had a moment to notice this because Jesus stood up and He was dressed in heavy, serviceable armor and He held a drawn sword in His hand, and He looked so much like how I always thought an angel might look that I was completely overwhelmed and drew back from Jesus.

“You look just like an angel!” I protested, almost defensively. “This is confusing!"

Jenny, Jesus said, with such tender love. This is Me. You know Me.

“You don’t look like You at all! Where’s Your wounds?”

He held out His hand- the gesture itself one of such humility and generosity- and I came close to Him and took His hand in mine. Jesus did have the nail marks there and He parted His armor at the side and I saw the place where the spear had gone in.

“They’re so deep,” I softly. “But You have wounds even like this?”

I always had the wounds, He pointed out, and I always will, as the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world.

Then Jesus had to explain a whole bunch of things to me- first that He was transfigured and I had seen Him like this before and others have seen Him this way and that it is recorded in the Scriptures.

Don’t you remember seeing me like before? He asked tenderly, reminding me, not in words, but by bringing that experience back into my memory. It had been the first time I had seen His Passion, as though He had opened His heart of suffering up to me. When Jesus was taking me through this, He had been glowing white, beautiful, with eyes of flame, but still with the wounds.

“Well, yes. You did look the same then. That is the same face as before... But what about Your old You? It seems so wrong! I love the old You! I feel wrong, like I’m betraying Jesus of Nazareth! I love Him!”

This filled Jesus to overflowing with golden laughter; it rose up out of Him and overflowed. The laughter flowed through His voice when He spoke.

Jenny. Little one, I am Jesus. I’m the same Person. I just don’t look quite the same. Didn't you just ask to see Me more clearly?

“Well, yes… but I’m just overwhelmed! I’m so sorry!” I cried out, contritely. “I’m doing a terrible job at accepting this. I’m always asking for things that are way over my head and then when You give them to me, I’m not gracious, I’m just afraid. I’m so sorry!"

You’re doing fine, He assured me, His voice warm. You are so quick to trust Me and to learn what I teach you.

I walked up to Jesus and leaned against Him and my love for Him that is constant in me like live coals woke up into flames, as it always does when I am near Him, and Jesus said to me quietly, now do you know it’s Me? Who else moves your spirit in that way?

“Only You,” I confessed. “Only Jesus has ever been able to…”

But again, fear and doubt got in the way. This was because I kept remembering how the dark sometimes masquerades as a being of light. This thought was like a mosquito buzzing annoyingly. However, I remembered that it was possible only by the Holy Spirit to declare the Lordship of Jesus Christ, so I determined I would face my fears that way. With resolution, I took hold of the sides of Jesus’ armor and looked up into His beautiful, tender and joyful face.

“Say “Jesus is Lord,” I said, as sternly as I could.

Laughter rose up through all through Jesus, like bubbling water, rich as gold and resonant with love. His eyes were dancing. This laughter was full of such love that I knew right away my fears were groundless, and that would have been enough.

But Jesus bent down close to me, and as though He were giving me a precious gift of extraordinary, personal love, He said into my ear, Jesus is Lord, His voice still lilting with laughter.

I leaned against Him, smiling, caught up in His humor, because when He laughs, I end up laughing too. “I know, I know,” I acknowledged, made meek. “You, Jesus, are Lord.”

So then I couldn’t stop looking at Jesus, trying to get used to Him the way He was.

“Is something happening? Are You dressed like this for a reason? Are You coming back soon?”

Soon, He assured me, seriously.

Jesus said something else that I’ve forgotten, but the crux of what He said was that serious things were at hand. (When I forget something like this, I assume that it’s on purpose, since the Holy Spirit could easily cause me to remember those words if He wished. If He doesn’t, I assume those are things that I shouldn’t record.)

As I continued to look at Jesus, I found Him just breathtakingly attractive- far more attractive than He usually was. For a moment, I compared His old appearance unfavorably and dismissively to His new appearance and then horror and shame went through me, to think I had been dismissive of His old appearance.

I was so ashamed of this- because how could I not love Jesus, weathered and humbled, more? I thought it was terribly shallow of me- that I would not cherish His humility in becoming human over the brightness of His divine beauty and glory.

I wanted to hide what seemed to be this disloyal and shallow thought of mine from Jesus, but in humility, I drew it out into the open and offered it to Him with open hands, my head down. I didn’t think about assuming this posture, I just flowed into it, as it matched what I was feeling.

Immediately Jesus swept me into His arms in this rush of fierce love and He whispered, I love that about you so much- your willingness to be that deeply vulnerable and that open with Me.

I was a bit shaken by this, in a wonderful way, but as soon as I could catch my breath, I asked Jesus, "What do you want to do?" I was curious, wondering if we might be doing some extraordinary thing.

Generally when I am with Jesus, He does not show me or tell me extraordinary things. We just spend time together, and that is what we did.

However, despite the gift of Jesus’s declaring His Lordship, the fear of being deceived sometimes interrupted this fellowship. I had only been seeing Jesus since early that year, so my faith was still very much in the process of growing.

When my anxiety returned, Jesus said to me, you are Mine. Do you think I would let anyone else come to you? You’re Mine alone. I would never let anyone else sneak in and take My place in you.

As Jesus was saying this, I remembered a part of Scripture about a vineyard:

"When that time comes,
sing about a delightful vineyard!

I, the Lord, protect it:
I water it regularly.
I guard it night and day,
so no one can harm it.
-Isaiah 27:2-3

“You mean that I’m like Your vineyard?” I asked, trying to understand what He was saying. He was speaking with a great deal of intensity.

Yes! He said.

Jesus reminded me of a passage in Joshua- that I should read it, it would ease my anxiety about His appearance, to see Him described that way in Scripture.

I sat up in bed and turned on the light- Keith was on twenty four duty on post that night- and I flipped through Joshua, looking for the passage, my anxiety rising lest I not find it after all, and then I found, in the fifth chapter, this:

“When Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up, and behold, a Man stood near him with His drawn sword in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, Are you for us or for our adversaries?

“And He said, No [neither], but as Prince of the Lord’s host have I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, What says my Lord to His servant?

“And the Prince of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, [a]Loose your shoes from off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy. And Joshua did so.”
-Joshua 5:13-15, Amplified

And wonder filled me. There He was- Jesus!- standing with a drawn sword in His hand, in His position of the Commander of the Lord’s Hosts- the Lord of Hosts, the King of Glory.

I flipped through to the first chapter of Revelation and read the description of Jesus there, but I still found that one hard to connect to yet. Then I read the tenth chapter of John again and was filled with so much love for Jesus, having emptied Himself, humbled and humble, full of passionate love in His heart, and how He said that His sheep hear His voice, but the voice of a stranger they will not follow, but will run from and how no one can take His sheep from His Father's hand.

Then I put the Bible down on the night stand and lay back down and went inward and Jesus asked tenderly, better?

“Yes, thank You," I replied, relieved.

It was only just at this point that I remembered I had asked Jesus to show me how He was at the right hand of Papa, and here He was, clearly doing that.

And everything made sense and Jesus was full of laughter, as I realized this and almost all of my anxiety went away, because of course- how He was appearing to me now was an illustration of how He was beside Papa in the fullness of His victory, His Name above all names, being the Head of all things, holding everything together and bringing forth His Kingdom, which has no end.

In the clarity of that moment, I realized that I could simply be there to see this- I could go to the throne room, where I had been once before, that experience having stretched my poor faith out right to the limit, so that Jesus had had to walk beside me while I went crawling up the stairs as if I had been blind.

But just then, that fear was gone, like a clear sky and all that remained was the knowledge that it would please Jesus very much if I could accept the gift and go through the open door; it was like a standing invitation.

So I went, but I saw first as though I were looking down into this huge, bright, golden space with pillars in the center and a raised space inside the square of pillars, and a golden, glittering floor, overflowing with light. The space around the center square was filled with beautiful persons that I could not see well, and light and laughter and joy and color, everything sparkling.

I knew Jesus, who was beside me, wished me not to hang back, but in faith to go into there, so I obeyed and I was there. Jesus was beside me, in His armor, which no longer appeared simply serviceable. It was of gold and shone at every point as though jeweled and every part of it was catching the light, but also the light was coming from Him. His humility combined with His beauty, and set off by of His love and crowned by His joy, made Him the most irresistibly attractive Person I had ever seen.

People were around us, talking to Him, but He kept me in the curve of His arm and I could hear nothing of what they were saying and I did not dare to look at anyone closely, but kept my eyes mostly on the floor, which was beautifully paved.

Then a creature came up- I couldn’t focus on him at all- I simply could not see him clearly and it was unnerving, but I knew he was dense with power, but kind and gentle in heart. He and Jesus took hands, and I knew Jesus loved him from the look on Jesus’ face.

I have seen a similar expression on Keith's face when he talked about a fellow soldier with whom he has forged a deep bond of unspoken trust and understanding. I had no idea what things Jesus and this being had been through together, but I knew it must have been intense.

Then this person held his hand- or what I assumed was a hand- out to me in polite and kind greeting. This was quite unsettling, but I felt nothing from this being but kindness and I could not be rude to him, despite the fact that, naturally speaking, I would have found him completely terrifying. So I held out my hand and he took my wrist in his grip very lightly and let go.

Jesus knew I was feeling overwhelmed without my having to tell Him, so He tucked me back up under His arm and I felt much better there and kept focusing the floor and trying to pretend that no one could see me.

Once I looked up and into the most beautiful face of a person that I did not know, and they caught my eye and smiled at me. Their eyes were twinkling. I knew just in that glance that this person knew who I was and knew how I was and so, out of love, was pretending to ignore me. Kindness, patience, humility and charity are as natural as breathing there.

The whole time I had been there, I kept turning my head and looking over my shoulder or over Jesus’ shoulder, depending on where we were standing- in order to look toward the lifted place at the center between the pillars. A golden cloud filled that entire space between the pillars and I knew without having to be told that Papa was there.

I kept being frightened at this, and struggling with it, because I knew I didn’t have to be frightened and that it would please Jesus more if I could only move past my fear of the Father. Jesus turned His head toward me and pressed His cheek against my hair and looked down at me so tenderly as I was looking off in that direction.

Then I remembered, with a burst of joy that He wasn’t just called the Father, like an empty title- He was my Daddy. Immediately upon realizing this, the clouds parted and there stood Papa- and He looked just like Jesus in His transfigured appearance- full of joy, laughter, love, vitality and strength, His arms open.

But I was anxious all over again. “No one has ever seen God,” I whispered in Jesus’ ear. “It says that in I John.”

This is because of Me, He whispered to me and I remembered Jesus said these words the night before He was crucified: “Jesus answered, “I am ·the way, and the truth, and the life [or the one true way to have life]. ·The only way to the Father is through me [L No one comes to the Father except through me].”
-John 14:6

I still didn’t understand how I could possibly be seeing God the Father, but I accepted that through Jesus I have free access to the love and presence of Daddy- to the throne of grace.

Thinking on this again filled me with joy, to remember that He really was my Daddy and I was His daughter and so I went running across the golden floor and into His arms and He swept me up close and He took my face in His hands.

He searched my face and I could see that He delighted in me, and that this delight had nothing to do with anything that I had ever done or ever would do- it had to do solely with the fact that I was simply and actually His own daughter - just as my human father would find his heart filled with love when he looked at me, only more so, because Abba is the perfection of love.

However, the sudden expansion of my faith was not a permanent one and in a moment, I fell at His feet, because I could not remember why I had possibly dared put myself before the face of the Most High God or how it was possible that I should be seeing Him.

Abba knelt down close to me, just like Jesus often does when I get overwhelmed with Him sometimes. But this humility on the part of God the Father was too much for me to process and so like a homing pigeon, I went flying back to Jesus.

However, even safe with Jesus, I was focused on regret that I had been unable to do better and that I was not stronger in my faith, and again, I fell down. This is not a choice. I simply end up on the floor.

So then I was on the floor feeling like a failure and very unworthy, feeling sure that I must be deeply embarrassing Jesus in front of all these important people. Jesus was bending down close to me, and He said, My own, you belong with Me by the covenant of My blood and are sealed to Me by My Holy Spirit. Because of this and through this, you know Me and belong with Me. It is natural and right for you to know Me and to always be with Me.

Hearing those words, it was like water as it saturates a piece of paper, or dye as it spreads through cloth. It began to sink down through me how much and how closely I belonged to the Son of the Living God, to Jesus, who in the garden of Gethsemane, fell on His face and cried out to His Father in agony, and yet accepted the cup, and when He rose again on the third day, said to Mary Magdalene, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brethren and tell them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God."

But He has now ascended, and His Father is my Father and His God is my God and I can cling to Him with all my heart, because my life is knit into His Life, as close as flesh and blood, as one spirit- because I am born of His spirit.

The cup of His Passion that He drank to the dregs cannot compare to the joy of the new wine of His Kingdom that He finds in us.

Understanding this, gratitude, love and wonder filled me in such a way that it seemed as though I was nothing but an expression of them. I said, “Thank You for letting me exist, that I can know You and love You this way. Thank You for letting me exist that I might know You.”

Jesus lifted His face and looked across the space to Papa, His face full of love, and He allowed me to hear what He said to Abba- You see how she is- how she has captured My heart.

He swung me up into His arms and carried me across the space and stood beside Papa and spoke with Him, though I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

At first, I was seeing this up close, but then I was seeing this from a distance, so it was as though I were outside of myself looking at a picture. Jesus and Abba were standing together, appearing like two luminous, golden figures standing shoulder to shoulder, but with their faces turned to each other.

Between Them and radiating out from Them and flowing constantly through Their Spirit was a perfect fullness of love, trust, delight and understanding. Their bond went to depths far beyond human perception, so I was only seeing the surface of it, but just that surface was impossibly beautiful and impossible to describe.

My faith and understanding had been stretched way out again and again, and I was about at the limit, so Jesus carried me from the room. We went down the steps outside the throne room- it was night outside, but full of the luminous golden lights everywhere and we went down to a bridge over a slow moving stream and rested our elbows on the stone rail and paused there.

The stream seemed to circle the building, and that was the last straw for me. I poured out all my anxiety to Jesus in a rush of confession.

“But I thought there was never any night there, so how can this be night? And I thought that the stream flowed right down from the throne, so how can this be true? How can I believe this?”

Jesus leaned close to me and put His arm around my shoulder and He said, Little one, it’s not literal. You aren’t seeing this as it is truly is, in it's own expression- it’s not possible for you to know it that way as you are now. What you are seeing are symbols of the living reality, but the symbols are showing you things that are true. That’s how you should understand this.

Then I remembered how in Revelation there are many symbols of spiritual realities, specifically I remembered how Jesus is  described as holding the lamp stands, but they aren’t really lamp stands, they’re a symbol of the churches.

We walked down the city streets and past a fountain and then we went home to the inner room, and soon after I fell physically asleep, but I didn't sleep very well. I kept waking up, filled with incredible wonder, going over and over everything that had happened.

When I woke in the morning, I went right back to Jesus in the inner room.

I said to Him soberly, “You’ve woken me up.”

Yes, He agreed.



July 2, 2013 Journal

So, we are in the middle of an actual adoption and may be placed with a baby girl in September. (That was her due date, but Merissa was born four weeks early, in the middle of August.)

As soon as I heard that date, it clicked. And how many times has it seemed like Jesus referred to my child as “she?” As if He knew! So now, I really wonder.

Hello little mother, He said, smiling, so tenderly.

*

"Verse 13 says, "Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it."

"Thou" refers to the Lord. "The gardens" are plural in number. He is not only dwelling in the garden of the maiden (6:2) but dwelling in many other gardens as well. He is the Lord who dwells in the hearts of men...

"The maiden addresses Him according to this relationship. She says to Him, "The companions hearken to thy voice." The word "hearken" means that everyone is listening...

"But these are listening, they adopt the attitude of a hearer. They know that their lives depend upon the Lord's words and their work depends on the Lord's commands...

"Verse 14 says, "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices." These words are the same as in 2.17. It is the same prayer, but the things that are referred to are not the same in both cases. This book mentions the wilderness two times, and in the same way, it mentions the Lord's coming as "a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices" two times. The first time on the mountains refers to His fellowship with the believers; it shows His longing for an absolute fellowship with the believers. But then the shadows had not fled and the day had not yet broken, that is, the Lord had not yet come. The emphasis was fellowship. Therefore, we saw Him upon the mountains of Bether; He was clearing away everything that was causing "separation."

"But the second refers to the Lord's second coming. This coming is in the future, and though it may be very near, no one knows when it will be. Unlike the case in chapter two, it does not have a time limit. The matter is not fellowship, therefore, this verse does not speak of the mountains of Bether but of the mountains of spices. It describes the condition of the Lord's coming and His kingdom. At that time, it will be a marvelous world, one like the mountains of spices.

"Then the maiden's experience will be like a drop of water that has disappeared into the ocean; there will be no more room for advancement, though the tide can always go deeper..."

-Watchman Nee, "Commentary on the Song of Songs," Before the Rapture (8:5-14)