Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st

It is December- gird your loins.

I've been blogging for over four years now. That is a long time. That is a long and very public record of my interior and exterior life.

Never would I have expected to be making my spiritual journey public, either. That would never have occurred to me. Firstly, because I would have thought that journey nonexistent and secondly because there's just no way I would have thought myself capable of talking about God.

I still don't think that I am, but early on, back in October, I read this:

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16, The Message

So, here I am- writing and sounding like an absolutely cah-ray-zee person.

Occasionally, I forget how I came to be so close to Him. That happened a couple nights ago. I was resting in the close and loving presence of Jesus and suddenly, I was caught up in sheer terror.

What was I doing? I wondered, all of a sudden. How dare I come so close to God? It wasn't respectful! I wasn't good enough for this sort of fellowship! How on earth did I think it was okay to just come right up to God and nestle in, as though He were my own personal security blanket?

I withdrew from Him in selfconscious horror. I didn't want to talk to Him, because I was afraid this would be one of those times when He wouldn't answer, and that would just make it worse. I could feel Jesus still right there, patient and waiting.

Gingerly, I started thinking things through, one thing at a time. I remembered how, over the past two months, He had patiently and powerfully dismantled my shame and my fear, right at their source. I remembered how He had been slowly coaxing me closer and closer to Him, lovingly and faithfully.

I thought of how He had poured out His presence on me, and how He had walked me through the entire Bible, so that I could see glimpses of Him and His Father all through it.

I thought about how He had laid aside His glory and honor, and came down and suffered to be born human. He lived a life of poverty and obedience. He suffered violence and unspeakable pain and suffering, He who knew no sin became sin, and died, and rose again. He was faithful and true, and completely finished His Father's work.

Through His suffering, He redeemed sons and daughters to God. The travail of His soul brought forth our new lives in Him.

I thought to myself, it is ridiculous to think that after all this, Christ would prefer a respectful distance from His own family, the family that He purchased with His own blood. Jesus must wish, like any parent, to hold His children close.

Then I wondered at myself, that just because of one stray thought, one moment of fear, I would push Jesus away, would give up being close to Him. Of course I'm not worthy! I never was; it was never about that. It was about His creation, His redemption and His desire for me.

I'm learning that I can either look at myself, or I can look at God. If I look at myself, I feel despair, fear and shame. If I look at God, I not only see Him, but I see the way He looks at me. He sees me as a finished work in Him.

So then, I paused, right on the edge. "And You don't want me terrified and far away from You, do You?" I asked, my voice becoming tentative at the end, aware that He was right there, listening, watching and waiting. "Do You?" I asked again, timidly.

And He came down like fire. I felt fire rush through me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, and then the sensation faded away and I was just as I normally am, warm and cozy and wrapped up in Christ.

It is as though He is teaching me this:

"May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,

That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
Ephesians 3:17-19, Amplified Bible