Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 11th

Written three years ago, on February 1, 2012

Last night, I was thinking back to the beginning of this whole journey, and how, on the second day of this experience, I was embarrassed and shocked by the religious and spiritual arrogance that I felt in me, right in front of Jesus.

I remembered how I had struggled with the fact that Jesus was not suddenly and completely taking that out of me, though I asked Him to again and again- Jesus wasn't going to suddenly transform me as though snapping His fingers. I had to learn to trust Him and His timing and His grace and His leading.

In fact, it was that night that Jesus gave me this passage, to explain:

"Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of His face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him."

-II Corinthians 3:16-18

Then I knew that Jesus would refine me in a gradual and faithful process and I would have to look to Him always as He did it.

As I lay there thinking this over, Jesus spoke to me.

Look how far you've come with Me, He said quietly.

Joy immediately filled my soul- to hear His voice and to grasp what He said. "Jesus!" I cried. "So far! So incredibly far! Because You are faithful, always faithful! And You are the most faithful when I am the most confused."

I will continue to faithfully guide you along, even into eternity, Jesus assured me.

"Always," I acknowledged. My heart was too full to speak anything more.

This morning, my little calendar says this:

"Sing a new song to the Lord,
for He has done wonderful deeds.
He has won a mighty victory by His power and holiness."
-Psalm 98:1

Written a year ago, on April 15, 2014

For the first time, absolutely no one landed on my blog in the hour or two after I posted it. Usually, even two or three will land there, but so far, no one. This hurts. It never ceases to hurt and it’s been several years now that I’ve wrestled with it, hearing Jesus say, if even only one person came- if it was meant for only one, wouldn’t it be worth doing?

And I think, okay, yes- for even one it is worth doing.

But now none. And I think, no one is asking me to write.

I am asking you, Jesus said firmly, right into that thought, which is startling, when He does that. I’m not even finished thinking something, and His voice is firmly interrupting it.

Then I try to thank Him for the experience of being humbled. I am glad to share in this, but that doesn’t mean it hurts less- it still hurts. It must hurt, or I wouldn’t be sharing in it with Him, even in such a ridiculously small way.

So I guess I will walk into and through this hurt and continue to write as an offering of love and obedience, even into the silence.

Last summer, on July 18, 2014

Something that I read where usually I find encouragement and confirmation in my walk with Jesus has lately become disconcerting and today was the worst, where what was explained seemed to go in the opposite direction from where Jesus is leading me and the way He is with me.

Immediately, I felt that I was wrong and felt that I was a discredit to myself. I can’t pretend, I felt badly for myself- for my public image- which is rather telling.

I just sat there, looking at the words, thinking, that discredits my entire relationship and history with Jesus. Then I thought, I’m just trying to shore up my own reputation- it’s because I care about how I’m perceived and I want confirmation so that people will like me and want to read my posts.

My ego was very much involved. So then I prayed, Into Thy hands, Thy will be done, Thee I adore. And those words, Thee I adore, echoed in me. It wasn’t myself or my reputation or any other thing that mattered- It was Jesus that I adored. The rest of it could fall by the wayside.

So I stood up, released in part.

But it kept returning to me, that sharp stinging pain of being perceived as wrong or irrelevant, of being rejected, and I prayed again and Jesus reminded me of how those who exchange honor in their own name can’t receive the horror that comes from God and that I should release the desire for my own name to receive honor. I should follow His leading regardless and never mind whether I receive praise or discredit, because honor from men is not my aim, but obedience and honor to Him alone.

“Yes,” I said immediately, understanding and accepting this, though still it stung, to be disliked and discredited.

In fact, as it came over me again, the pain of being seen as wrong or crazy or ridiculously off track that while intelligent and interesting and serious people all went off in another direction, and I alone and crazy and way too weirdly intense went off further into some place that fits nowhere - as I was feeling this all again, I thought about turning my back on Jesus and simply ignoring His voice. I considered pretending that I do not hear Him and never sharing anything He says.

Considering it was as far as I could go with that thought, because to do so would be the most blatant act of betrayal, when I would be doing it not even to save my life, which is in no danger, but simply to save my ego, and I would be making that choice in the face of His presence and life poured out on me since I was a girl and knowing perfectly well and unable to deny that Jesus is alive and present and not a myth and not simply a person in history. My whole life is woven into His life.

Then I wished my choices weren’t that stark, that I could be normal, whatever that is. I wished that God had not chosen me for whatever He had chosen me for, so that it would not seem like life or death to me.

Jesus said gently, have you come this far by My leading just to give up now?

“No, no,” I admitted, as I bent down to pick up a baby toy off the kitchen floor, feeling worn out after working through everything. Because, of course I can’t. I can go so far as to wish myself different, but whenever it comes down to it, since Jesus began teaching me, I always end up letting go of whatever else and choosing Him- because Jesus is that compelling.

Wouldn’t this have crushed you, if you had read it a year or two earlier? He asked.

I thought back, remembering how easily bruised and unsteady my faith had been at that time, how I had been daily, hourly beset by doubt and tested Him at every step and clung to every confirmation as if it were a life line. “Yes, it probably would have,” I acknowledged.

But I send it to you now, when you can bear it, Jesus explained.

“Yes, I can bear it,” I admitted, because I could and I was, though it stung.

I keep you close pruned, Jesus said gently, as if He had a twinkle in His eye.

Immediately, I understood. I had been leaning too much on this writing and not on Him. It is a necessity that we learn from and share with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, that we grow together and enrich one another and encourage one another and that the more experienced, as mothers and fathers, guide the younger as they grow.

But Jesus is Himself the Head and Source of the church, which is made up of many different parts, with many different functions. Jesus was re-centering me on Himself and He was pruning off some branches that were heading off in a direction that wouldn’t have produced the fruit that He wanted in my life.

Also, He was letting me see the extent of my ego- my need to be at the center, to be admired, defended and to receive admiration- so that it could be pruned off and wither further away. It’s embarrassing to admit to, but the pruning of my ego is an ongoing process; I have not yet entirely felt free of it and must frequently confess it and lean on Jesus.

“Yes, yes, You do keep me closely pruned and I think You for it,” I said, smiling, opening the microwave to get my breakfast cereal. Because when I saw it that way, of course I want Jesus always to keep His place at the center and head of my life and remove anything that might begin to usurp that place and I count on Jesus to do this, as other things can creep up on me almost unnoticed until He gracefully and faithfully points them out and removes them.

Then He told me to go write this down and that I would feel better after I did and He was right.

Last month, on February 26, 2015

It's been overwhelming to be in His presence lately. Being with Jesus is not a static thing, and sometimes He unveils His presence to a greater degree than before, which causes in me a kind of awe that makes speaking or relating to Him difficult, and I must remember that He is also my constant, loving and faithful Friend who has taught and guided me for so long.

I remembered a time last year when I was also caught up in awe, and I remembered what He said to me.

So I looked up at Jesus and I said to Him with loving trust, “Behold, my Friend.” And His tender love come pouring down through me.

“I’ve been thinking about something lately,” I said to Jesus, resting against Him, feeling all of His loving attention on what I was saying. “Long ago, how You said to me, And I will be guiding you right along, right into eternity…

And here I am, Jesus said, smiling down at me.

“And here You are!” I cried, delighted, laughing. “And here You are!” I threw my arms around Him in joy. “I love You, I love You so much! You are my heart, my breath, my heaven!”

This morning I feel tired and worn out- it's the third or fourth day of grey weather. I’d been re-reading my journal from 2014 when I was first sharing from my journal, and how doing so had caused less and less people to land on my blog, and how painful that had been. But through it, Jesus had taken from me a lot of unnecessary weight and I had come to understand that I must obey Him in love and in faith regardless- that He calls us to be faithful.

"Well done, good and faithful servant," Jesus says to each of those with the talents- the same to the servant with two as to the one with five, because both were faithful with what He gave them and that is what matters.

And as I was thinking about this, Jesus spoke to me, and pointed out how each challenging experience had helped to strengthen and deepen my faith and character.

“And You will help me through this too, and my faith and character will continue to grow,” I said, realizing it.

Yes, don’t lose faith in Me, Jesus said, strongly.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,  God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.

-Psalm 139:1-18