Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9th

I might share this now, but again, I just have to say, that this whole thing is such a mystery.

God comes to us in such personal ways. This is just my personal language- my vocabulary, if you will. It comes from my own life, everything good and bad, mixed up together and given over.

So, I have apologize in advance; some of my language might come across as overly religious and some of it might come across as childish. It very likely is.

I write this way not because I'm convinced I have the right way or the right words, but because these are simply my own words to describe God, to call Him, to worship Him.

I hope the language does not get in the way of the heart of the experience- which is the extraordinary and personal love of God- this God who is Love, who gives Himself completely to us, who delights in us, is committed to us.

This is a section of a letter that I wrote to my mother, though I also wrote a similar letter to a close friend of mine as well.

At the time, that was as far as I could share the experience- other than bits and pieces of it. I would start to write about it and then stop.

I couldn't really explain the explain this very well, though I tried. But it will explain some of my poetry.

February 18th, 2011

I've been sort of wandering around the house in a kind of daze, trying to adjust to this new thing that I can't seem to blog about. I wrote a blog, but I just can't publish it. I'm going to have to start over and rewrite it from the beginning, and generalize the entire experience. The words don't work so well.

I keep going from wonder to wonder to wonder lately. He almost doesn't give me time to catch my breath before He teaches me some other thing.

So, recently, I forget when, I asked Him, in a quiet moment, to begin to teach me what it was to be His beloved, in the same way that He had taught me so well what it meant to be His child.

He didn't speak, I felt His arms catch me up around the waist and lift me up- I felt His joy and love and the moment passed. And I almost forgot that I had asked Him that, because life goes on in the way it does.

So then, lately, He's been impressing me with the knowledge that I belong to Him, and I couldn't figure out why He was stressing that so much lately.

Night before last, I forced myself up from the computer at seven in the evening, after having written for a large part of the afternoon. Within me, I felt a deep and driving hunger for some time spent with Him.

It's strange, writing. It takes so much of my concentration. I stop frequently to check and be sure He is still there.

Once I was huddled up in bed, I thought I would read but I couldn't read. I tossed the book aside and turned out the lamp. I gave myself over to that deep longing, I gave words to it.

In the dark, I called on His name. Over and over again, I cried out to Him. I called forth all His beautiful names- the Rose of Sharon, the Lion of Judah, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the root and branch of David, the Bright and Morning Star.

And He was there before I had even called out to Him. In fact, I suspect that I was longing for Him because He was first calling to me.

I was gathered up close to Him and hidden under the shadow of His wings, where it close and warm.

And it was like breathing in and breathing out- worshiping Him and falling into Him.

My joy and desire was like breathing in. To breathe in is to fall into Him, to recognize and open up to His desire, His ownership and it sends my spirit up in flames.

Breathing out is to become so overwhelmed that I must fall back, in awe, because such intimacy with God is almost unbearable and I cannot sustain it for long. But I couldn't fall back far, because He had me surrounded and pulled in close. Even when I was still, He surrounded me. When I turned to Him, He pulled me in.

Fragments of scripture came and went; I remembered a fragment of what Gabriel had said to Mary: "...and shall call His name Jesus," the angel had said.

This filled me with a kind of wonder and joy that I cannot explain. It seemed like one of the most earth shattering statements ever.

"Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" I cried out, as though His name was like fire crackers that I could let off into the air, to expand out into light.

"Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go.," I remembered. (John 6:39, The Message)

I remembered Him saying:

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are One.” (John 10:27-30)

And I remembered Him saying to me: "You are Mine. It is you that are Mine. I am the One that has you."

When I thought of these things, I understood what He had been teaching me, and worship and adoration swept through me and there were no words enough to contain or express this worship. It was as though my entire self, given over, was the expression of my worship.

"Search my heart, and know me," I said to Him, with trusting, loving abandon, "try my heart, and know all my ways- all my thoughts and everything in my heart and all that is me."

Those verses used to frighten me, but not any longer. Since I am already completely known, it's nothing but pleasure to willingly fall into what is already true. It's like spring cleaning, but by the rush of water or wind, which sweeps through every part of me.

"Forgive me my trespasses, as I forgive those who trespass against me," I declared, as though sweeping out the house with joy.

I couldn't stop naming Him. I called out all His names like flags falling open in a brisk, clean ocean wind- they went streaming out in the air. I called Him by His official names and by my own, personal names for Him.

"You Son of God, You son of David," I named Him, with joy and adoration. "You beautiful, You Only, You One. You, You, You. Beloved, beautiful, altogether lovely and sweet."

Sometimes I couldn't tell if He were naming me or if I were naming Him, and the terms of endearment would get passed between us more quickly and naturally even than breathing. I gave up wondering about the mystery of it; I simply gave myself up to it.

Over and over again, I called out for Him. Sometimes the longing for Him was so sharp and sweet I thought it unbearable; it sent my heart out to crash on the shores of some bright, some beautiful and unimaginable future. Each time I had to reel my heart back in and pour it out into the immediate moment.

I thought I could never get enough, but after some time, my spirit grew quiet and I simply rested in His arms. My thoughts wandered back to earth.

I understood something in a new way, then. I understood a little more what it means to be His walled garden, His spring shut up. Recently, I had read that passage and I remembered it, and my understanding opened up further.

When He comes to me, He comes to what is His, kept by Him. Because He is the wall and the sunlight and the rain and the wind.

And He Himself is the living water.

The next day, I looked up that fragment of remembered scripture, and found more of it:

"...and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
-Luke 1:31b-33

I felt Him close to me all that day, and that night, as I was getting ready for bed, I felt Him come up behind me and wrap His arms around my shoulders. I was enclosed by His love. I leaned back into Him without hesitation and with loving recognition.

He drew to my mind the things I had learned the night before- that I was His garden enclosed. I acknowledged this also without words, simply by accepting and rejoicing in it.

Still with His arms around me, Jesus expanded my understanding further out, or deeper in, from that point- that to be His garden enclosed was to be His spouse. I belonged that deeply and that intimately to Him.

I understood then that His role was not that of a gardener- or, if it was as one of a gardener, what that really meant, was that He was my husband- one who protects, provides for, nurtures, and enjoys what is His alone. Even in our language, the meanings overlap.

Again, I acknowledged and accepted this without words- I completely yielded myself with joy and awe to the deeper understanding of how I belonged to Him.

Then, almost instinctively, I put the entire thought away from me- out of mind, and thought about other things. I think I did this out of self defense against the hugeness of what I'd just grasped.

I mean, I'd known of that language before, of course- but my understanding of it was so rudimentary, devoid of emotional or spiritual depth, and thinking about it was like staring at a blank wall, beyond which I could not see around, and that filled me with fear, because how could that be possible and I could never, ever be good enough for it.

All night long, I kept wondering over it. Husband, I thought to myself, with awe. My God is my Husband. I am married to my God.

I woke in the morning, and He was there.

I stood at the open door, and I said shyly to Him, "My Jesus, I love Thee, I know I am Thine," and He put His arm around my shoulders and drew me close to Him.

I looked this up today:

"In vain I attempt to describe what I feel,
The language of mortals or angels would fail;
My Jesus is precious, my soul's in a flame,
I'm raised to a rapture while praising his name.

I find him in singing, I find him in prayer,
In sweet meditation he always is near;
My constant companion, O may we ne'er part!
All glory to Jesus, he dwells in my heart."

- Caleb Jarvis Taylor, Sacred Harp 1803

I went for a walk today, I had a driving need or desire to walk with Him. I had listened, the day before to the first half of Handel's Messiah, so I stood in the driveway, wondering if I should listen to the second half or not. I was listening with my inner ear to Him.

He drew me forward, so I did, and as soon as I did, it was right. I've never been so deeply drawn into that experience. It mattered to me far more than it had ever mattered before, because of the way in which I belong to Him. Because I'm His, everything that happened to Him meant everything to me.

It's taking me a long time to get used to this new way of relating to Him. Almost everything sounds different to me- songs, scripture, my own blog- everything has this new and deeper meaning.

Last night, I saw it suddenly like an ocean, and Jesus was the ocean, and He was drawing me out deeper and deeper into Him, until my feet were swept up off me and I was upheld and surrounded by Him. I remembered Him saying, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch."

It makes me think of that line from the hymn: "What more can He say than to you He hath said? You, who unto Jesus, for refuge have fled."

What more could He say to me? I mean, really? I suspect a great deal, though. For one thing, I'm grasping the barest edges of what this means; I suspect that for the rest of my life He'll be laying this teaching in deeper and richer.

But isn't He wonderful, isn't He marvelous?

This is our God! Isn't that extraordinary? This is God! The God that created us, He is like this- He loves this deeply, He is this invested in us.

It's beyond understanding.