Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11th

So, this is normally a blog that would remain private.

Yesterday evening, I was just at the end of my rope, feeling frayed and worn thin and miserable. I had raging headache and I was exhausted.

I went to bed early. Even then, I felt the presence of Christ close by me.

"Don't talk to me!" I snapped at Him in the quiet room. "I can't take any more of Your mercy!"

It makes me laugh now, but at the time, I was serious. Sometimes His loving kindness just drives me nuts. I don't understand why He doesn't punish me, why He doesn't get angry at me, why He doesn't just shout at me.

"Why is it that my behavior doesn't drive You away?" I asked, desperate. "How can You stand to be around me when I'm like this? I'm not good enough, my behavior isn't good enough for You."

It wasn't because of your good behavior that I came to you in the first place, He said.

Jesus reminded me, all over again, that it is His part to give and my part is to receive, to surrender, to yield. I can't stand apart from Him to fix myself- I must yield to Him and let Him do that work. How many times must I relearn this lesson? I suspect my entire life.

When He calls to me, I remember that He wept over Jerusalem, so great was His longing to gather her children up under His wings, and so great was His sorrow that they would have no part of it and what would soon befall them.

All day long, He says, I have held out My hands to a stubborn people.

When I think of these things, I forget about my unworthy state. I forget my failures. I remember only that Jesus is meek and lowly of heart, and will not compel anyone to come- He invites. He calls to me with open arms, and I must go to Him, because I belong to Him. I am His.

I surrendered, as the hymn says:

Just as I am - Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
-O Lamb of God, I come!
Charlotte Elliott, 1835

I went to bed and read some of the psalms, but I was so tired, eventually I had to just put the book down and rest in His healing love.

I was full of peace, within and without. It was as though I was being warmly sheltered under the shadow of His wings, close to His heart. All my wounds and all the tightly wound up places inside me eased into the warmth of His love.

We have a Christmas tree in the bedroom, a green one with colored lights, and when I put out the lamp, the room was full of the lovely, peach colored glow from the blended reds and yellows, greens and blues that pooled together in the darkness.

Lynn was curled up at my feet, a quiet, breathing lump of warm fur, and through the walls, I could hear the quiet murmur of the movie Keith was watching in the living room, where he was happily calling and texting everyone he knew with his new iphone.

Into this peace stole a fear that had been growing in me for some time. This is the fear that one day, I'll wake up and find His presence gone.

I don't know how I could survive if I lost that deep and living connection that I have with Him, in my spirit, now that I have known it.

I decided to give voice to this fear, instead of wrestling with it alone. I felt His strong and loving desire that I should pour out my fear to Him, to release it to Him. So I did.

"I'm scared You'll leave me!" I cried. "I'm scared one day You'll take Your presence away from me. I can't live without You. I won't be able to bear it."

I am your life, He said. You have My Spirit. I cannot take Myself away from you- if I did, you would die, and I have promised you that in Me, you would find eternal life. You cannot lose Me; your life is bound up with Mine.

I was so deeply resting in Him that the fact that He answered me so clearly, and with such detail, did not amaze me as much as it might otherwise have done.

"But what about David!" I protested. "You took Your presence away from him, and he had Your Spirit poured out on him."

You are born of My Spirit, Jesus said.

As He said this, in my mind I saw a fleeting image of the three crosses standing silhouetted against the sky, on the top of the hill- I saw the empty tomb. They weren't unfamiliar images to me- He brought them back to my remembrance.

It took me a while to digest what He was saying, even though this was not new information- I'd understood these concepts long before, only now they were sinking deeper into me.

I kept bringing up different avenues of thought, and He kept patiently taking me back to the heart of the concept- that my spirit was born of His Holy Spirit, and therefore, I could not be severed from Him.

It all made sense to me, by that time. But still, I doubted. I still worried that one day, I would wake up, bereft of His loving presence.

I cried out in my heart, "Continually help my unbelief!"

And He caught me up in His arms and poured out His love on me like fire.

I just will never understand how He works. I don't understand His love or His grace or His mercy and compassion. But it seems safe to say that Jesus loves us to call on Him and to yeild to His love and to lean into His strength.

"How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge
in the shadow of Your wings.

They feast on the abundance of Your house,
and You give them to drink
from the river of Your delights.

For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light do we see light!"
Psalm 36:7-9