So now I will begin to share more, or share more deeply, or whatever, about my inner life. However, it is important to me that I make as clear as possible two points before hand.
One, is that I know these experiences are sort of mind blowing and I apologize. I'm not trying to be disconcerting on purpose. I'm a shy, ordinary person.
Attention makes me uncomfortable, which is why I do not advertise my blog or open comments or link my blog anywhere. It's not that those things are bad- not at all- it's just that, personally speaking, it's hard enough to share these things even here, in this tiny, quiet little corner of the internet.
Second, and this is more important, is that I believe, with all my heart, that the reason I have these experiences is because Divine Love feels this way about us all.
If there is anything at all to "being chosen" it is merely to demonstrate it, in order for others to begin to believe it as well- so then, we are all like light bearers in the dark of this mysterious, beautiful, present life, passing on the torch of His love to those around us. Because we are all chosen in God- it's just that some of us have grasped hold of it and some of us haven't yet.
So, please think of these experiences as a kind of creative expression- like a story that you read and you think, my goodness, now I want to write- but of course, you want to write your own story- the one that's living in your heart, waiting to be expressed, to be brought into being, day by day, in your own language.
Recently, I had been reading- I had been reading almost all day and it was late in the afternoon and I got to this phrase:
“Father, I want those you have given to me to be with me, to be where I am..."
(John 17:24 GW version.)
The verse goes on, but my attention stopped right there. I sat at my desk with my hand over my mouth, while that phrase just went on and on in my head.
In case you might be wondering, as I sometimes wonder, who are those that the Father has given Him, here is a verse that begins to answer that question, in my personal opinion:
"God was pleased to have all of himself live in Christ. God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross." (Colossians 1:18)
As I was sitting there, I felt His longing simply pour through me. It was as if He were simply pouring His heart out.
I believe Jesus does live in longing; He lives in it every day. He is stretched out between enduring and bearing all things, and hoping and believing all things. He is stretched out between the chaos, violence and pain now and His perfect faith- He knows that love never fails.
In the meantime, He is hanging here, because His name is God with us, and even He was perfected through suffering.
Brennan Manning wrote this in his book, The Furious Longing of God:
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”
That night, whatever I was doing, I felt His love pouring out toward me and my love was pouring out toward Him. It was intoxicating, and I hadn't even entered the heart of it- the center of the flame, as Brennan puts it.
As soon as I did, the first thing I saw clearly was Jesus standing in the room, with His arms outstretched, hands open, reaching toward me, His face lit up with joy, with eagerness.
Did you hear Me? He cried.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear, flashed through my mind, and how often He says this.
I went running straight into His arms; I don't think my feet even touched the floor. I threw my arms around His shoulders and held on tight and it was as if my entire spirit was going up in flames. I could hardly speak; I wanted to speak, to tell Him how much I loved Him, but the words wouldn't get past my throat.
The knowledge that I was with Jesus was going over me in waves. I just kept remembering how He stood in front of those envious or callous authorities, caught up in tense verbal sparring and how He had spoken with them, again and again, trying to make them see, though they couldn't hear Him through their own assumptions, their self righteousness.
I thought of how He had stood in the temple and cried out to the crowd- words that probably sounded like nonsense. But He had to say the words the Father gave Him to speak, the words that burned in His passionate heart, the heart that He wore on His sleeve.
I thought of how His purpose had driven Him along so urgently- He had to be going to the next place, doing the Father's work and how it shook Him, in His spirit- the coming agony, weeks and then days and then the night before, when the agony was so great it felt to Him as if He might die from it, but He went through it, each time, successfully, given over to the will of the Father and His own burning love.
Because He wanted us with Him. He loved us before we could offer Him anything. This is the beautiful thing about the heart of Jesus.
I was clutching His robe in my fists and trying to catch my breath, which was difficult to do with all that emotion.
"Thank You," I managed to say into His ear. "Thank You."
Of course, I meant for everything, but also, for me in that moment, I had to speak those words because of the love and wonder that was rising up in me, that I should have the chance to love on Him in person, to be with Him then and there.
All this time, He was calling me by name and saying that He loved me, and it made my head swim so badly I couldn't stand. My legs were like noodles.
"I'm going to fall!" I told Him.
He took tighter hold of me and swung me back up and set me on my toes and held me up, but I wasn't very steady. It was all I could do to hold on.
Didn't it help? Do you understand better now? Didn't I open My teaching up to you like you asked? He was asking, His voice full of love.
"Yes! Yes, I heard You!" I cried, amazed all over again to remember it. "I do understand more!"
(Because I had told Him, a while back, that I didn't understand half the things He was talking about and that it was frustrating and I wanted to know.
"I don't know what the Kingdom of God is!" I had complained and confessed, all at once. "You're always talking about it! It seems very important, but I have no idea what it really is- it's here, it's there, it's like this, it's like that- but I don't know what it is!")
However, just that day, I had read this in The Voice version:
"The focus for Jesus is not on the kinds of sophisticated arguments preferred by the religious scholar; for Jesus the kingdom of God is about living life, and in particular, living a life of love for God and for neighbor—whoever that neighbor may be." Luke 10:37, explanatory note in The Voice
Remembering this, I was laughing, because He answered that request in such a practical way- through a different translation. Sometimes He is just practical and it's not what I expected, sometimes.
"You Teacher, You," I murmured, but He was much more interested in another, much more personal title at that moment.
Here is something to consider, if you wish: consider that Jesus does what He sees the Father doing- His deep desire is to please His Father. And what does the Father do? The Father holds the Son in His arms- the Son is in the intimate presence of the Father. That is a repeated metaphor given to us to illustrate their relationship.
So wouldn't it make sense then, that the Son also has a deep and burning desire to hold us in His arms, to express the love He learned from the Father, to complete the circle, as it were?
I wonder about this, myself. It might be possible that everything sprang into being for this very purpose; to be brought into the arms of God, because their love was so great it could not be contained only in themselves.
Of course, there are many different metaphors for spiritual intimacy and it is important, in my opinion, not to get too caught up in any one of them, because they all are, I believe, basically inadequate to describe the whole of Divine Love.
Still, they are beautiful ways to express love- like instruments with which to create love and express loving relationship. In my experience, His heart is wide open to the sound of these instruments- it seems to move through Him in a way that is beyond words. It's almost as if He has no defenses against it and if one decides to pour out love on Him with abandon, He will give Himself in return, in greater measure.
But if we are continually caught up in thinking about how miserable we are and how much we are failing and how we are full of sin and wrong thoughts, how will we ever feel confident enough be able to come close to God?
On the other hand, if we are full of our own works and self-satisfied, how will we ever feel or surrender to the deep yearning for completeness, for union, that waits in God?
I'm beginning to think there's a narrow way between these perceptions- it has to do with the things that Jesus praised: meekness, a desire to make peace- which, I believe, is tied into forgiveness, a heart focused on Divine Love- which, I believe, is tied into love of God and others, and a recognition of one's spiritual poverty- a hunger and thirst for Him, for more of Him.
I can't help but think that these things lead one further and further into His heart; certainly, I can see how this had operated in my own life, no matter how imperfectly I am able to live into it, and I live into it very imperfectly indeed.
Last night, I was too full of anxiety and guilt to rest in Him and I withdrew, feeling miserable. Several times I felt Him tugging on my heart, but I turned His invitation down.
Jenny! He said, His voice so full of yearning, of love.
It took a moment for me to realize that I was hearing my own name expand out into my heart and when I realized this, I opened my heart again to Him and I first thing I knew was that He had caught me up in His arms.
"I'm all broken up, confused, and getting it wrong," I whispered to Him.
How many times have you been through that in My presence? He asked tenderly.
"So many times," I confessed, remembering.
And didn't I stay with you, all through it?
"Yes," I confessed.
Then stay with Me now, He whispered.
If this, then, is the heart of God- that He wants us to stay, to remain in His love always- what shall we say to this?
What stories will we tell, what pictures will we paint with our lives? What poems will we breathe in the quietness?
What will we cry out in the pain? How shall we pound out our anger when we are broken?
Knowing that the only sacrifice He wants is that of our unadorned hearts and the fire, His passionate, consuming love and the alter, His arms, what things would we speak?
Or, there might be a kind of silence that is more eloquent than any words.