I sat upstairs and pulled the Bible toward me. Tears fell down all over again. Oh, Holy Bible, no longer a bulwark against deception. Even you have let me down.
I open the Bible to Luke, where I was reading, more tears pour down my face. There, far in the distance, is Real Jesus. He is far away from me in history now, and He is far away from me in spirit. Once He seemed so close, but I was deceived by the color of His eyes.
Blue Eyed Real Jesus is busy spending time with important people, but for such people as me, He sends me brown eyed shadows. He amuses my childish heart with puppet play when appearing in person only to a few.
He is not really my Friend, He is not really my Beloved. Blue Eyed Real Jesus would never pull me into His arms, would never whisper that He loved me, would never cry, would never laugh. He would not do these things because He is very real and very important and very holy and He has important things on His hands.
When I finally appear before Real Jesus, I will be ashamed of the liberties that I took with His simulacrum. I will cringe in shame and slink away, grateful only for His stern, aloof but pardoning mercy, in order to grieve for the rest of Eternity for the Friend that I lost, the Friend I never had.
Jesus who pulled the child into His arms, who declared that of such were the Kingdom of God and to let them come to Him, Jesus who praised the meek, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, Jesus of the meek and lowly heart, Jesus who defended the scandalous gestures of love from a fallen woman, Jesus who turned to tell the unclean woman who dared presume to touch just His clothing, that her faith had made her well, and to go in peace, Jesus who rested with John against His chest, Jesus who cherishes the childlike faith, Jesus who praised His Father for revealing mysteries to infants, for such was His will- that Jesus has been sublimated into Blue Eyed Real Jesus.
When Jesus went to heaven, He ceased to love the small and broken. He ceased to be available.
The warm hearted, human and present Jesus that won my trust and won my heart, He is only some strange mixture of my longings and holy inspiration, not the purest tincture.
I read the first passage of John, finding comfort in the familiar poetry.
I may know nothing else of Jesus, but I know that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
John freely confesses that he was not the Messiah. I have freely confessed that I am not seeing according to these standards. What I thought was the living Jesus were, according to these standards, only tattered picture negatives of Him, three times removed from the real thing.
Heaps of white tissue paper gathers up around me.
I am with you now, He says to me.
How dare Jesus keep talking to me!
“So You say,” I reply, wryly. “But how do I know?”
How can I trust Him again?
I search for the tenth chapter, always a source of comfort, even the my darkest of back-slidden days, but my eyes are caught by the red words above it: seen and speaking.
I read that passage.
"Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, so he found the man and said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man replied, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus told him, “You have seen him; he is the one speaking with you.”
He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him."
Again and again I read this. Jesus says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
How many times has Jesus asked me this, in essence- do you believe in Me? Will you stretch out your hand to Me? Will you come to Me, lean on Me, rely on Me? Do you believe in the Son of Man.
And the man says, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
And I have said to Him- “Show me who You are. Who is the Son of Man? I want to believe in You. Show me who You are."
And Jesus says, “You have seen Him; He is the one speaking with you.”
You have seen Him.
He is the One speaking to you.
You have seen Me. I am the One speaking to you.
And the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him.
Because to step out in faith, to declare belief, ends up in worship. That is always the way it has been for me; also for this fellow, who stands forever enshrined in this Gospel before Historic Jesus.
Your faith is precious to Me, Jesus whispers.
“So You say,” I reply, and then I am at a loss. Which way to turn? The simulacrum speaks. Doesn’t this Jesus know that He is only a figment of my inspired imagination?
All the years and the months that I cherished His voice, thinking, Jesus speaks to me, even to me!
Thinking Jesus is not far away from me, He is living in my heart, He is holding me in His arms. He opens His heart to me, even to me, the ragamuffin, the failure, the underachiever, the weak, the ashamed, the abused and battered child, the divorced and barren woman, self-centered and always frightened. Even to me.
When I was young, seventeen or eighteen, I stood in my room battered on the inside by doubts like a sandstorm. I had been praying in tongues for hours and the inner fog had only grown thicker.
How did I know which voice was Jesus? What if I was being deceived? I was crawling through the sandstorm on my hands and knees, but for all I knew, I could have been crawling away from Jesus, crawling toward the wavering voices on the wind of the storm.
Then, like the eye of the storm, a simple thought: Jesus knows all things. He knows my heart. He is in control.
“Dear Jesus,” I prayed. “I cannot see clearly. I may be going in the wrong direction. Please pay no attention to this. I am lost in the storm. But all I want is to be with You. Please look on the desire of my heart and not on my confused crawling.”
So I put myself in the hands of Jesus and there by faith I stayed all these years.
As I remember this prayer, fresh tears come trickling down my face. I have been struck to the heart and I am still bleeding out. I don’t think that I have ever been this hurt in my life.
Foolishly, yours truly the blogger, thought to join a site where other people heard and see Jesus. Foolishly, because I thought I fit in there.
How ridiculously childlike I was in my joy! I, the reserved and anxiety ridden, entered the group with arms open. I introduced myself. I scattered comments everywhere. I posted a vision that I had never shared anywhere else at all.
But when I shared my visions, I was told that I put too much soul in them. I had seen the circle divided into three parts on the side of the screen, asking us what would Jesus think, what would Jesus feel, what would Jesus want- but I thought surely that’s an illustration, not a philosophy.
I shared how, when at first I was full of doubt how could I be seeing or hearing Jesus, but that Jesus had gently built my trust by presenting me with one thing, connecting it to Scripture and then to the next. The first thing I shared was full of my doubts and how I kept putting my faith in Jesus; it’s written all through my story. You might even say it is the story.
I was told that authentic visions did not have any doubt.
Authentic visions. I sat there looking at the screen thinking, “I do not have authentic visions.” It was like a strange, painful pulse all through me.
What I had instead, it was explained to me, were a lesser kind of vision, a lower vision that was mixed up with the heart. I had too much heart.
Well, that was a blow, but I rolled with it. This journey I’ve been on has been over three years long and I have given Jesus all my trust- not part, but all. That kind of trust doesn’t shatter easily, so I accepted my diagnosis and posted another journal entry under Testimonies, not Visions, whose high places I had never seen.
I posted this journey entry largely the way I had first written it, which was largely the way I had experienced it the night before, a year ago. It was alive with Scripture, with Jesus. It was one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to me.
When the moderator of the group again asked me if this was a vision, I didn’t know what to think. Hadn’t she already made clear that I wasn’t having visions? Hadn’t I then publically accepted that? I thought that point had already been painfully settled.
So I wrote back saying, no it was this lesser vision that she had explained to me, and this was how long I’d been having them and this is what Jesus taught me about being with Him in this way.
Ah, the persistent delusion, that Jesus Himself was with me.
She was very gentle and loving, kind. She was uncertain about me. She didn’t think I was seeing with the eyes of the heart either and anyway, no one should stay there. I was all mixed up and had no three part cookie cutter clarity.
My soul and emotions and thoughts were smeared all through the experience like a child’s finger painting, which I had held up for the class, crying out, “Look at this beautiful thing Jesus has given me! He loves me. He loves you. Jesus is beautiful like this.”
She asked me what color His eyes were.
I felt as if someone has gently boxed me into a corner and was asking me for my spiritual I.D. But I had hidden nothing from them, from the first. I had already surrendered the sweet illusion of seeing Jesus in a vision. What more was she wanting me to prove?
Did you know that all the highest prophets in the country agree that Jesus has blue eyes and that He had blue eyes on earth? This is a secret kept by those in the know, those few that have actually spent time with Jesus.
I am not one of them. I have not really seen Jesus at all, not in any way that is real. Jesus has sent me sweet inspiration like pretty baubles for me to play with, but I have never really been with Him, because His eyes are blue.
That is my final diagnosis.
I sob so hard I cannot stand; I sink down to the floor and crouch there, gasping in a rasping, ugly way. I am so deeply hurt that I simply don't know what to do for myself.
Something in me wants to die. I am gasping for breath, I am shattered, my heart is crushed and giving off pungent, impure perfume. I am all emotion.
I thought I had finally found brothers and sisters with whom I could speak freely. I could say to them with joy, "I saw Jesus!" and they would not think me insane or egotistical, because they also had seen Him. They would know what it was like.
Instead, I was pared down and pared down until I stood there holding nothing.
"This is not true," they said gently. "You can't have that. This is not really Jesus. It's not for you to have Jesus. You haven't reached the necessary spiritual perfect to spend time with Him. Real Jesus would never spend time with you in person."
This is like my upbringing all over again. "You cannot approach the throne of God. Jesus is high above you in untouched, burning purity. Who can ascend His holy hill- only those with pure hands and look at how filthy yours are! You ruined your life and you cannot ever come into His presence."
In the evening, I stand with my daughter in my arms before the crib, knowing that I must pray. I begin again to cry instead. I have been crying now for three hours and my nose is raw. My daughter looks up at my face, my broken heart pouring down it. I can't hide my grief.
Sweet daughter, life will do with to you. This is a part of being human. This is what others will do to you, with the best of intentions, with love.
Forgive them, because as surely as you are human, you will unintentionally do this to someone else.
Forgive me, dear unknown readers, if I have done this to you.
In the nursery, my prayer is the wavering thread of my broken, bewildered heart. Which Jesus am I praying to? How do I know? Who is the Son of Man, that I may believe?
How could Real Jesus stand by and let this happen? How could I love that Jesus? I thought childlike faith was precious to Him.
I push past this. I cannot believe it. My faith is a small silken thread cast out past the dark, my faith is a tremor of my heart that cannot, at the last, fully die.
"Even now," I tell my Jesus, brokenly. "Even now, I love You. I trust You. Even in this."
You have seen Me.
I am the One speaking to you.
Lord, I believe.