Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th

Written October 3, 2011

So, last night, I decided I should pray the Lord's Prayer. So I settled in and I was all, "Let's pray the Lord's Prayer!"

And He said, "Why, little one? Why should we do that?"

I was taken aback. After all, that's the prayer He Himself taught! So I told Him, because we had the night before, and it had been a really great experience, so shouldn't we repeat the experience?

"Why do you think that, little one?" He asked me again.

I was floored. I realized I had been about to set up a ritual. I thought sadly of all those nights I'd knelt down by the side of the bed, folded my hands, and prayed by rote and then got up feeling almost as guilty and ineffective as I'd had before I'd prayed.

It reminded me of when He went up the mountain and was transfigured. And Peter, babbling in fear, says, "This is awesome! This is great! Let's set up little houses for each of you to stay in!" (I paraphrase, of course.)

I realized that no matter how great the last moment was, it's better to stay with Jesus than hang back and build a little monument to the past. Peter could have built a little house as an act of love and worship, but Jesus wouldn't have been living in it. He would have been out and about, doing His work amid the people.

"The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

"Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them- living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious and free life."

-Romans 8:4-5, Message

December 20, 2013

I was standing before Him on the lawn under the night sky in the inner place, and that almost crippling desire rose up out of me- to be with Jesus fully, not through faith, as clear as it can be sometimes, but with the completeness of the new body, that we groan for, while in this one, and what I said or cried out was, “I want to see You with my own eyes!" though I did not think about what I meant by that, at the time. It just came out like that.

I want that as well, Jesus replied, and His voice echoed from the sky and the earth and within me and beside me, where Jesus was standing and it was full longing like rushing waters.

My own longing was so great it felt as though it were possible to tear something down the middle, but I tried as hard as I could to reign in my unruly, passionate longing. Jesus has told me that now is not the time to give into the longing, but to invest myself deeply in the work of faith, love and hope in this present life- which I cannot do if I am sick at heart and longing for a place I can't be yet. This is a discipline of love that grows patience and perseverance in me. At least, that is how I have come to understand it.

I also knew from previous experience that throwing the whole weight of this longing straight at Jesus tore at His heart and was very painful for Him as well, so I tried not to do that anymore- not to stir up or awaken love until He pleases.

“But until then, we have this!” I cried, trying to pull back into the present.

But again the thought, the remembrance of how the fullness of Jesus was somewhere out of reach, that out of the sight of faith was the fullness of seeing Him and knowing Him. It was so furiously burning, my desire and longing and almost fear for this to be, to be in that moment, how that would be, to fall down at His feet, to know Him, to be in His presence and again the longing was tearing at me, taking my breath.

“Don’t do that to Him; don’t insult Him like that!" I reminded myself, fiercely "Jesus isn’t somewhere out there- He’s right beside you. He’s said this to you so many times. Jesus said that you have all of Him. Believe Him."

So I turned all that white hot intensity right into that moment; I turned all the longing like hunger and thirst, the fear, the desire and the awe, right into where I was, in Jesus as He stood before me- I believed that Jesus was standing beside me and that I could pour out and bring expression to all that I felt right then, because Jesus was with me right then.

And it was beyond words, the fire that burned through and around us.

February 11, 2014

So I was talking to Jesus and He was saying something to me, and immediately a part of myself disbelieved Him, but instead of getting anxious about that, for the first time I simply let go of trying to control that thought. I had a sudden, liberating insight.

“It’s okay," I said to Jesus. "My doubts or fears will have no effect on Your faithfulness; Your faithfulness is constant regardless of my wavering feelings.”

And the joy that just rolled right through Jesus! It came out of Him in laughter, the most joyous, delighted laughter. And He declared, with joy in His voice, You delight My soul!

February 26, 2014

Sometimes I would fall back into His arms and breathe, trying to let my feelings of shame and anxiety ease through and to make space for loving. I wrapped my arms around His neck and held Him tightly.

“So long as I have You,” I whispered, thinking of my failures in life and how they might mean I would have less of Him in heaven, because I not managed to remain pure. “So long as I have You, as much as I can have…”

Didn’t I tell you that you have all of Me? Jesus asked, tenderly, firmly.

“Well yes,” I said, in relief, remembering it again. In fact, He has said that many times.

Believe it, Jesus said.

March 10

I have a new, richer and more up front understanding that I am with Jesus, fully with Him and Him fully with me- Jesus has been insistent lately on helping me understand the nature of our relationship.

“You are here with me,” I said in awe.

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, Jesus assured me, as He had before.

March 14

“It pleases You, when I believe," I said aloud, noticing how visibly this pleasure showed on His face, whenever I abandoned myself to Him in faith.

You draw me in, Jesus breathed.

March 15

I am leaning more on faith and less on sensation- increasingly, simply to believe that I am with Jesus, regardless of whether or not that knowledge lights up in me. That is the work of growing my faith, which Jesus is interested in.

March 16

Last night I realized that I was boxing Jesus up in this box from childhood- unconsciously assuming that the Jesus I would see when I died was the childhood perception of Jesus and not Jesus as I know Him now- as though my childhood perception of Him was actually more authentic than the revelations of my current, living relationship with Him now through faith that He's given me as a gift and constantly guides me into.

Why on earth would I choose the childhood, religious perception over the living relationship I have now? Good question, eh?

So when I came to Him last night, I threw my arms around Jesus and I assured Him, “I do know You- I know You so well, I know You as You have revealed Yourself to me, as You have been with me."

As I am! He assured me, joyfully, almost astonished and so deeply moved by this wave of abandoned, joyful love I was sending His way. This worship! He breathed.

April 9

“Your faith is my bulwark,” I told Him. “I put my small, wavering faith in Yours and it is upheld in Your unwavering, towering faith and I rest there.”

And that was so and a great pleasure.

April 10

We were walking down the path from the back of the orchard to the lake and I kept looking at Him shyly, thinking, “I am walking with Jesus!” He kept glancing down at me with such love, as though delighting in and taken by surprise by love all over again Himself.

The lake looked different- vast, lit with light in different ways. I turned to Jesus with resolution.

“I’m going to believe that I have all of You,” I told Him. “You aren’t divided. I can't understand the way You can be fully with me and yet fully with everyone and also in everything- so spacious that everything finds its place in You. I can't understand how that is, but that is a limit of my understanding, not a limit of You. You, Jesus, are really and truly with Me as You are. I know You. I can’t grasp all that You give me yet, but I will as my faith grows and then completely when I have my new eyes. But I’m accepting that You are Jesus, right here and now.”

He put His arms around me gently and smiled down at me, pleased and with just a hint of His humor showing . Do you now believe? Jesus asked, tenderly.

And goodness! That is such a classic thing for Jesus to say. I knew immediately that He was referring to the generous mountain of events and experiences that for years now had all told me, again and again, that I was with Jesus, and it was only now that I was declaring it to be so with such abandoned resolution- but that is because my faith has grown.

And also, that even though my faith had grown, I had so much more to grow into that I can't even conceive of yet, but still, Jesus was pleased and loved me where I was, and was pleased in the step I had taken.

“Yes, I believe now, as much as I can,” I said earnestly, looking up at Him. “My faith has grown lately, and that is because of You. Thank You for the gift. And I would like more, please,” I added.

Do you want still more? He asked, laughing.

“I always want more faith- and I know there always is more, because it is always possible to know You more and the more I know You, the more delightful You are. So I want always to be growing into knowledge of You."

But now I think it's not about wanting more faith- I keep forgetting what He said to the disciples when they asked Him that. I keep forgetting and continue to phrase the request the wrong way, because it's not about more faith, it's about falling more and more deeply into the faith He's given me, learning to lean on it completely. But He continues to be patient with me about that. He understands the heart.

April 12

I was reminded that I am supposed to believe God without doubt, and immediately I felt so, so guilty and miserable, because I never feel as though I am free completely of doubt, and I heard Jesus tell me that I don't have to try and do that, but to choose faith despite the doubt.

Can I purge myself of doubt? How would I do that? I can only do what I have been doing, which is to choose faith in the face of doubt. How can I eradicate doubt from my life? Where is that power in myself? If I could do that, I could make myself perfect.

I must simply do what I have been doing, which is to place myself in the hands of God and trust Him, even when I doubt. Isn’t that faith? Isn’t that stronger faith that rigorously attempting to shove down or strangle doubts as they arrive, and then punish myself for having them and then attempt to resolve the doubt by intellectual exercise or strength of will or thought control?

If I manage to control my doubt on my own, then I either become brittle and proud, or I fail and I am ashamed and frustrated.

Anyway, Jesus said, Believe- even when you doubt. In that way, I am putting myself into His hands and my faith is His work and He gets the glory for doing a work in me that I couldn’t do for myself.

I know in the gospels He has said, "If you believe and do not doubt..." I read that and it suddenly struck me- that is the faith of God. God Himself has that kind of perfect faith. And with God, that perfect faith is coupled always with His perfect, self sacrificing love.

I think of the phrase, "If you ask anything in My name..." When I was younger, I would tack His name onto the end of all my prayers as though it were a "Return to Sender Promptly" kind of stamp- I'm using Your name, so please give me what I want." Like a Christian "Abracadabra."

Then I read that verse in the Amplified version:

[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I Am]. (John 14:14 AMP)

There is a world of difference between tacking His name onto the end of a prayer request and asking something from Him while personally presenting to Jesus all that He is- that is, standing before Jesus in the fullness of His own stature.

Then one considers the sort of things Jesus asked Abba for in His ministry while doing only Abba's will, right up to the cross: that is to present all that Jesus is, to stand before Him to make a request of Jesus, as He would have of Abba. After all, Jesus could have chosen to use His faith to produce all kinds of marvels, but He didn't.

And faith is a gift from God and not of ourselves, and unique in each person, according to the gift given them. It is a fruit of the Spirit, and such fruit is grown in our good hearts with patience. It does not come all at once. This is Jesus' work as we abide in Him, as His life flows up through us stronger and stronger.

Especially if one considers the way that fruit grows- there is only one season where the fruit is actually harvested. Immediately afterward it is pruned and then sits dormant for an entire season.

That might feel like failure, humanly speaking, but it is possible that it is a natural part of the cycle, and this is when faith is tested- in the quiet rest of winter, when nothing appears to be growing, but because of the pruning and the dormant rest of winter, the next season's fruit will be richer and more abundant.

And then there is the spring, where there is the blossoming of things, the promise of the fruits. But the blossoms are not the fruit, and the blossoms themselves must fall away and die before the fruit can grow.

This might feel like failure too- a worse failure than the winter season, because a person might mistake the blossoms for the fruit and think their dying away to be a terrible failure, right in the face of the promise of new life. And for a long time after the blossoms fall and wither, nothing is seen and when it is seen, it is small and immature.

Then it is summer and the vine must have sun and rain and grow patiently and it cannot provide the sun and the rain for itself. It must receive these things. The branches must receive life from the vine. And then finally there is a harvest and then this cycle begins again.

Faith might naturally grow in this way, in our spirits, as we abide in Him. It might not be a constant harvest of mature fruit, but a natural cycle of pruning, dying, blossoming, falling and growing before harvest, with each new harvest richer and more abundant than before.

I have been enjoying a much deeper and greater pleasure and delight and joy and awe and wonder in the presence of Jesus since deciding/being able to whole heartedly believe Him, and reading the Practice of the Presence of God has helped immensely- right on time.

April 17

“Give me the faith I need for this moment,” I asked Jesus. “The faith to be with You now as You wish me to be..."

"There are many kinds of faith,” I continued, thinking about it. “There is the faith that flares up into ecstatic flame, there is the faith that brings rest, there is the faith that illuminates, there is the faith that explains the pattern, and there is the faith that gives clear sight in the Spirit. Give me just the kind of faith that I need now to be with You.”

April 18

“Oh, let me never depart from You again!” I pleaded, urgently. Because of that line in the book got me thinking about it and worried.

How can you ask that even now? Jesus cried, in passionate response. After all that I’ve said and all that you understand? Don’t that ask that again!

His cry was clear, strong, demanding, definite- full of emotion close to frustration and even anger- as though I had deeply grieved Him. I remembered immediately, three years ago when I began reading the Gospels again after over ten years. I was reading in The Message version and I came to this section Matthew 15:16:

"Peter said, "I don't get it. Put it in plain language."

Jesus replied, "You too? Are you being willfully stupid?"

My anxiety and fear at reading that was so great that I had to move away from the computer- I was trembling on the inside. I couldn't read anymore.

At that time, the whole experience of feeling the presence of Jesus around me and hearing His voice clearly was still new and I had a hard time trusting it. Despite this, I felt strongly, even as I sat on the couch, that Jesus was holding me in His arms and talking to me in this loving, soothing voice, saying the same things over and over again.

He was saying, I am not angry at you, that is not the way I speak to you, I had a very different relationship with Peter than I have with you now- Peter was a grown man, a fisherman with partners and was passionate and stubborn and had already been with Me a long time- I could talk to him in such a rough, direct way without hurting his spirit, but that is not the same for you as you are now, so wounded and young in understanding and just beginning to heal. I have a personal relationship with people- it is not all the same- I do not speak to everyone in the same way.

Jesus had to say this many times before my fear began to ebb and I could begin to think straight. Amazingly, I had never before considered that Jesus spoke to people in a personal way. I thought He used the same demanding, unmerciful tone to every one in the exactly same way- as though Jesus were the Perfect Computer Program from Above, instead of the perfect manifestation of Abba in human flesh, come to draw us into personal relationship.

So when Jesus said to me, Don't ask that again, I felt immediately a reverent awe and overwhelming desire to obey Him, but also this light went off in my head- because I didn't feel crushed or ashamed by the strength of His emotion, and I realized it was because my relationship with Jesus was deep and strongly established in love after love after love. Even His strongly aggrieved tone could not shake the foundation of His patient, merciful and steadfast love in me that Jesus had patiently build up over such a length of time. I finally understood that passage.

“You mean, I must now simply believe it to be true?” I asked, meekly.

Yes! Jesus cried, and I could still hear the frustration vibrating in His response.

I cracked one eye open to peer at Him. “Jesus,” I said, meekly. Then I rested there and let my heart open up into the truth that I will never go out again. It was as though I were opening doors and windows in my heart and joy, relief and wonder flowed straight thought the openings into my heart.

I threw my arms around His neck and cried out, “Oh Jesus! I will never leave You again! I will always, always be with You!”

Always, Jesus assured me, smiling now.

We fell into love, and it was like peeling away layers that were so deep I hadn’t known they were there. Faith cuts through layer after layer of numbness and blindness and inability to understand. Faith lays these things wide open and drops one, defenseless, into God.

"I am believing that this is You- Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus ascended, glorified- even though I am still learning what it means for You to be glorified- still You are with me as You are,” I whispered. “This faith is a gift from You- thank You and naturally…” My voice trailed away, too shy to finish the request, for fear of sounding ungrateful for the present gift.

You want more, Jesus finished for me, His loving tone full of laughter.

“You know that I do,” I breathed, hardly daring to say it. “I always want more, because You- Jesus!- are with me. You live with me and I with You. You are with me like this because You love me, because You gave Yourself for me and because You bound Your life to mine in an unbreakable, eternal covenant of love."

I said this to Jesus again and again, each time giving myself by faith deeper to Him and I could see the tide of pleasure, relief and love that swept through Jesus. He looked at me, His amber eyes clear as light, defenseless in love, like dove’s eyes, like a lamb.

I bent toward Him and whispered, “My Beloved One. I’m Yours. I know this is You- I have celebrated Eucharist, I have seen You in the Scriptures, I have seen Your wounds, I have seen Your crucifixion and death and resurrection. You are Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and You are my Beloved and I love You with everything that I am.”


I was in His arms, looking down because of the feeling of awe and wonder was making me feel acutely shy, knowing it all through me, that I was with Jesus- and He reminded me and I remembered how much I had longed, with such a painful, aching longing to see Him, to be with Him.

And I was with Him.

Jesus said, look up.

I looked up into His tender, loving face, almost brooding in that intensely personal, deeply felt love that He has and I took in a long, shaky breath  and I whispered, “Those words, ‘my cup runneth over"- they mean so much, much more than I ever thought. It's meaning was beyond the reach of my understanding...”


I was in the kitchen working on dinner and I saw on television this stretch of the Connecticut coast, marsh, beach and glistening water all glowing golden in the sun, with houses, white and lovely, built there. The beauty of it filled me with love and wonder for its Creator, and I said to Jesus, “I love Your work.”

And He said, That is nothing compared to you.

That made me pause and consider. "That is all Your work," I said honestly, "and it amazes me."

April 24

“I only have enough faith for one day at a time,” I said, realizing it- because I was thinking of the way we were at the beginning, but I could not recreate those experiences and I realized it wasn’t necessary. Jesus is leading me along one day at a time and He gives me enough faith for the experience of relationship that He is desiring at that time. It is my choice to step into that faith or not, but I can’t recreate yesterday or make something happen without His leading.

Jesus bent His head to me, His eyes bright and interested- all my Teacher. What? He asked, smiling. Tell Me. Speak it.

“Because You’re the Manna from heaven,” I said slowly, speaking out loud what was slowing dawning in my head. “And one of the characteristics of manna is that it couldn’t be carried over from one day to another. Give us this day our daily bread,” I quoted, understanding that in a new way. “I can’t use the faith that I had yesterday to be with You today- I can’t be with You today the way that I was yesterday. Each day is given enough faith to know You for that day. We should not worry about tomorrow, but trust You.

"Your faith is unchanging, but mine is renewed in You day after day. It is important to remember the past thing, to remember our history. Our history is precious and forms the foundation for how I understand You and know You, but I can’t repeat that history. I can't go backward. You are the same yesterday, today and forever, but our relationship together is new every morning, just like the day is new, because we create it each day together, so it's like a living thing.”


Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen.

-Ephesians 3:20-21, Voice