Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28th

October 13

“I’m always wanting to have more impact than I do, to be bigger than I am,” I said to myself, as I was getting water from the fridge, thinking of how tiny my blog is and how I am always looking for approval.

What do you have instead? Jesus asked.

“What do I have instead?” I mused. “I have a glass of cold water,” I suggested, but I knew there were other answers, obviously more profound, but I wanted to let my mind remain open and not leap to the immediate response, to ponder the question in an open hearted way- I still am.

“A chance to know that I’m loved for myself?” I offered Jesus, later, as something I have instead of recognition.

That’s one, He replied.

So I guess there are other things too.

October 17

I was reading the articles of someone that was unexpectedly human and humble and knowing that I would never have a ministry like that, or be known by that person, or be validated in any way like that.

Because I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that Jesus' plan for my life does not include a public ministry or large impact, which in and of itself, is obviously not a bad thing, and He clearly calls others to these things for His purpose, but it's just not the story Jesus is writing with my life. This has proven difficult to wrap my mind around, I think partly because I'm an American and the whole "bigger is better" thing has somehow seeped into my assumptions, despite the fact that rationally, I don't agree with it.

“I will never be known by this person,” I said to Jesus, to acknowledge it out loud, and this feeling came over me- a feeling of being on the verge of understanding something important.

I started to make a connection in the giving up of my desire to be known, to be seen- and I saw Jesus near, looking down at me with love as I was beginning to grasp this, and He nudged me to step right into the understanding.

So I took all my need to be known publically and to be validated by someone else, and I turned and poured this longing straight into Jesus instead.

And was powerful, this feeling! Powerful and intimate and delicate- vulnerable- because to give up the outside recognition to be known only by Jesus was like taking my undefended, private heart and placing it in His chest, or in His hands and there was nothing else. There was only Jesus. It was like changing my posture, or the direction in which I was facing.

But you will be known by Me, Jesus assured me, putting this into words and that was intense and immediate. I haven’t grasped the whole meaning, but I know it’s what Jesus wants. The longing to be recognized by others, if I give that up and pour that straight into Him instead, I think that will be a way of loving Him and trusting Jesus that is more intense than I've known before.

Jesus asked me, What do you have instead? and I’m starting to realize that what I have instead is the opportunity of loving Jesus for Himself.

What I have instead is the opportunity to learn how to die before I die- to learn how to give everything up and have nothing and know nothing and keep nothing but Jesus and what of myself that is alive in Him. Everything else will die anyway. Only my new life in Him, my eternal self and those things that I’ve given Him- those treasures in heaven- only those things pass through and go on living, come into their true expression.

It was like what Jesus said to me that time when I was desperate for someone’s approval- yet another person that I saw as an authority figure who could place a stamp of approval on my life, and Jesus said to me, you are giving this person too much authority over your life.

I realized that I was thirsting for approval so much that I was passing over Jesus and reaching for this one- I was willing to give up the way Jesus saw me, or to reach past it, or to ignore it, in desperation for this other, more tangible approval.

“That’s true,” I said, resigned. “And You want me to only give You that final power of validation, of approval. That belongs to You, doesn’t it?”

Yes, He said, only it wasn’t just a word, His voice was full of passion- strong, fierce. Jesus was absolute about it. Fear God and Him only. That’s My place and My authority. You don’t fear anyone or anything else.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be in community or humbly learn from others, or share what He asks me to share- I must do that, it wouldn’t be healthy otherwise. I must be rooted in community and learning from others who are growing in Him and who have wisdom and insight and love, and I must share what Jesus asks me to share. But my deepest longings will go straight to Jesus with no detours. I will fear only Him, because He is my Lord.

Then, hours later, the latest Ann Voskamp’s blog, because, when doesn’t Jesus sum up a lesson He's been teaching me through one of her blogs? She had a guest writer, Jennifer Duke Lee, who wrote a whole book, Love Idol, about finding approval only in God. In the blog, The Secret to Stop Feeling like a Failure, she wrote this:

“Apelles, in Latin, means artist. He was the artist approved in Christ. And in Greek, the name means “excluded and separated.”

Could we willingly be excluded? Could we, artists and writers and mothers and fathers and preachers and teachers and ordinary, everyday pilgrims — could we willingly lay down our lives for a life separated with Christ — a life hid in Christ with God?

And there, we would find the only approval that matters.

And we would know it with certainty:

that it’s the approval we always had.”
-Jennifer Dukes Lee

October 18

I found yet another site, this woman a contemplative, an official member of an order, started compelling charities, worked with victims of child trafficking, wrote a book about contemplative spirituality.

Felt worthless, small, ridiculous- my home an embarrassment, my spirituality juvenile and clunky, my writing repetitive and dry.

Over and over again, Jesus kept urging my heart back open, back out of these assumptions and to let her be herself and to let me be myself and to let Him be large enough to use both of us as we were- that there was space enough and need enough and a plan large enough so that her work and my work both fit in there, just as they were.

And I managed! Surprisingly well, really. Then I stood in my kitchen, mostly clean from breakfast, but the counters smeared and the windowsills smudged from a set of sticky fingers and dishes piled in the drain board and still wet.

And I felt a compelling invitation to surrender in joy to this particular place and time, and this particular calling- in fact, I felt Jesus tugging at me to lift up my open hands and embrace His call on my life, right where I was.

I hesitated for one moment, thinking it silly and then I gave in and I opened my arms and lifted my hands and surrendered and accepted and I was filled with joy from top to bottom- such joy that I had to laugh. I felt airy, illuminated, small and loved, invisible and cherished.

Then Jesus told me to write this down, so I did, but now I’m going to go clean the counters.

October 20

I ran the spatula under the water, beginning to wash the dishes, and being awake and aware in that moment, and knowing that I did it for love- for love of Jesus and for love of my family, and in a way, I did it as Jesus- Jesus with skin on, serving my family.

I served in similar ways those that I loved, Jesus said, with such pleasure- the concept pouring into my heart and opening up into this deep realization- the fact that Jesus is a flesh and blood person, that when He was here, He served His family and His disciples with His own hands, that Jesus loved to do that and that He wanted to serve my family through me, that it brought Him joy.

This feeling was so intense that tears actually rushed to my eyes and I had to pull myself back from the brink of bursting into tears from the wonder of it.

After a long dark morning, the light hit the wall, brilliant, warm, illuminating. I always come through, Jesus said.


And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].
-John 1:5 AMP


Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
-I John 3:2