I lay in bed reading and felt Jesus lie down beside me and put His head on my shoulder, in that childlike and natural way that I recognize as much as I recognize His presence.
I remember other times when this has happened, the innocent and joyful way that I had welcomed Him before. What I'm feeling now is sorrow, a kind of sorrow that like mist rises up from the ground on a cool autumn morning.
"Even now?" my sadness is saying, without words. "Even now, You expect me to believe this, to welcome You, to make room for You- as if You were really here?"
But after all, I cannot long resist His innocent and gentle gesture of love. I surrender to belief, even though it makes my already tattered self further ridiculous. I welcome Jesus to lie down with me as if our heads were close together, as if He were wanting to read the book with me.
Jenny! He says, so intently that it's almost as if I hear it and His voice is full of a sharp grief. I realize that my wounded heart has become a big barrier of bandages and deafness.
I let it all fall. I'm not sure that I have anything left to lose anyway, certainly not my pride. I have grown a habit of surrendering belief to Jesus. It is a hard habit to break.
Jesus began a short litany of things, like a review.
I am right here with you, Jesus said.
You know Me.
You are with Me.
I was the One that taught you how to be with Me, that taught your faith.
All I could manage to give in return was assent to each statement. It was not a triumphant yes, it was a tired yes- too tired to protest.
Faith is a fragile thing. Faith makes one look ridiculous. I could easily have remained there, arms crossed, demanding more from Jesus in the way of proof.
I could have said to Jesus, "How do I know that I'm not making this happen, because I want it to happen? In order to convince me now, You'd better put a bush on fire."
I have a long history of being with Jesus and His presence seems to me a distinct, discernible experience and I have stood barefoot before my own personal burning bushes, so to speak, so I don't think that I'm making this up.
But I don't know for sure. My faith isn't placed in my infallible ability to know exactly all about God. I admit that I am fallible. I am unreliable when it comes to choosing clothing, let alone understanding God.
I believe I am with Jesus because faithfulness is His very nature and His name is called Faithful and True. I'm not capable of more complicated faith systems. My whole faith rests on Jesus alone.
I feel fragmented all through me. I had been like a jar that had a few bad cracks in it before, but still pretty useable. Now I am completely shattered. I am amazed that I am not falling apart into a scattering of broken pieces across the floor, for someone to sweep up and put out of the sight. But the very One I thought I was holding on the inside of this jar is in fact the One that is holding me together. I do not have to hold myself together; I am being held.
This shattering makes me feel flexible and yet oddly strong. It is not a reactive strength, it is the strength of quietness and the ability to absorb a shock. I can bend and move. These movement are gracious and gentle, toward myself, towards my husband, my daughter, my brothers and sisters. I don't ever want to hurt anyone the way I was hurt.
It's certain there will be more blows. When they come, I will, in my shattered state, more easily absorb the shock of them, revealing more of the light that shines through each time. This is not because I am light, but because the Light lives in me.
Jesus came to me later and I rested in His arms.
"I can never do that again," I confess to Him, thinking of how much I gave away, how contorted I had begun to get in the anxiety of it. I have lost five pounds. I hadn't been sleeping well, wondering what next.
You won't have to, Jesus replied, softly.
When I had first joined the group, Jesus had told me to share everything. Sow love, Jesus had whispered into my heart. Share everything.
"Everything?" I had asked Him, bringing to His attention certain specifics that I thought were too personal to translate well in general.
Share the heart, Jesus had replied.
So I had been doing that- sharing the journal entries, sometimes taking out specifics that were inappropriate to share, but keeping the heart of the message. But I had barely started. After all, I had three years worth of journaling. I had thought I would somehow have to find the strength to continue on sharing entry after entry, in order to be obedient.
"Yes, but You told me to share everything!" I reminded Jesus.
Haven't you? Jesus asked. The tenderness in His voice was beyond description.
It took a few moments to grasp what Jesus meant, but I realized that in the few things I had shared, I told them the whole story- how Jesus had taught me how to know Him, how He saw me, healed me of shame, won my faith, and showed me the joy of being with Him in intimate, easy and trusting relationship. I had shared the whole heart of my story.
Over the last few days, I keep seeing this image: I'm a small girl and I'm standing beside a pair of very tall, strong legs. This is Abba, but I can't see higher than His knees. He is holding my hand securely, warmly. No matter what happens, I am safe because I know Abba is standing right beside me, looking ahead and holding my hand.