(This is what I didn't have the courage to post, the first time around.)
Reading Till We Have Faces also stirred up all my wonder at the presence of Jesus in my life.
I spent many hours yesterday thinking back through everything that has happened and everything that He has said to me. When I wrote even a tenth of it down, it made an extraordinary story of love and faithfulness.
Richard Rohr, in Hidden Things, writes:
"In a sense, the Christ is always too much for us. He's always "going ahead of us into Galilee" (Matthew 28:7). The Risen Christ is leading us into a future for which we're never, ever, ready. Only little by little do we become capable of mutuality, of communion, of pure presence."
Jesus has been teaching me this- He's been completing a lesson He began long ago.
When I, as a young teen, was up in the tower, begging for the appropriate love of Jesus, which I knew I lacked, Jesus reversed the whole game, and poured His love out on me. My resentment, terror and guilt was transformed by sheer gift.
It sent me out into the dark, sacred night to leap with joy over the grass. No matter what happened in my life afterward, I could not unlearn that lesson.
Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I felt Jesus come up and put His arms around me and rest His head against mine. I felt, as I so often do, His loving possession of me. It is as though I am enfolded into His love.
I had to stand still, for a moment.
My wonder was almost beyond expression. Is it even humanly possible to take such things for granted, or to get used to experiencing them? The Prince of life, as Peter called Him- the very Son of God, demonstrates His love for me in such a way that I cannot avoid or deny or escape the knowledge of it.
"You are still here," I said, in a small voice.
Aren't I always here? He replied.
He always is, but there are times when I feel His love so strongly that I almost forget to breathe, and I must take a long, deep breath, and doing this settles me even more deeply into Him.
It got me thinking about mysteries, which made my head hurt.
I hold all mysteries, Jesus said firmly, His voice coming so swiftly and quietly.
Because the deep things belong to God.
All those years that I was being broken and healed, almost by the same strokes, I made myself little idols to sit in His place. I made them all in His image, because I longed for Him -I could not unlearn the lesson of His love- but I could not look Him in the face.
So I created relationships that were real and stories that I made up, characters that I imagined and men that I knew. But all they really were, were small guttering candles in a large, echoing space within me.
I didn't realize this until He Himself came, and then I realized the smallness of those symbols, how deaf and mute they were, sitting all topsy turvy in His seat. The living light of Him extinguished all those poor candles in a moment.
All it took was one true glimpse of Him, and I wrote this:
"I wanted to be in the crowd, so I could go running to Him and throw myself into His arms and I say, I see You! I see You! I belong to You! I'm Yours!"
And not only did Jesus hear this, but He actually caught me up in His arms and all the former things were no more.
But when I remembered them, I was so ashamed. It was as though I went off into a corner and threw sackcloth over my head. Jesus had to patiently coax me out, time and time again.
He had to teach me how to receive His love, because I had been programmed only to earn it.
He had to make everything new, and yet, each time I recognized the truth, it was as though, in some part of me, I had always known it.
The God of my salvation taught me very well and very patiently how to receive His love, so now I give myself over to Him. Now, when He comes, I yeild- I surrender to the knowledge that I am breathing His own breath, that my life is hidden in Him, and that He loves me beyond anything I can imagine or earn.
It's kind of like this:
"O Lord, You will give us peace, for You have done all our works for us.
O Lord our God, other lords than You have ruled us, but Your name alone is the One we honor.
They are dead, and will not live.
Their spirits will not return.
So You have punished and destroyed them.
You have caused them all to be forgotten."