Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24th

March 28, 2015

Last night, I was resting with Jesus and thinking about the inner room, and decided suddenly that there should be a wind chime on the front porch, at which point I realized I hadn’t asked Jesus about it.

“What do you think?” I asked Him.

I love it, He said.

“Do you?” I asked Him, delighted. “I love it too. It makes the wind sing.”

Then I thought, no wonder He likes it! Wind is such a powerful symbol of His Holy Spirit, and for the wind chime to sing, is to say His words aloud in a perfectly natural, tuneful way as the Holy Spirit blows through us.

Then it occurred to me that Jesus might love other things, and the inner rooms were His house too, but I have never thought to ask Him what He might like in them.

“Is there anything else that You love, that You would like in the house?” I asked Him.

I had a lot of trouble hearing His voice, and I had to ask it three times. This has happened from the beginning of hearing His voice. It used to bother me a great deal, but over time, it taught me patience and discernment, which is what Jesus told me was its purpose. When we don’t hear His voice clearly, this is a learning opportunity.

He is there and He is in control, He is just teaching us to quiet our spirits before Him and to trust Him more than anything else. Our trust in Jesus goes down deeper than our spiritual gifts or abilities. Spiritual gifts are wonderful, but we don’t put our trust in them, but we put our trust in Jesus Himself, always and at all times.

Also, when I have trouble hearing His voice, I understand that this is an invitation to open my hearts and see what is in there. Often times when I have trouble hearing Jesus speak, it’s because I’ve picked up some shame, either from the past or from some current thing, and so I am hiding from Him. Or I have a fear or reluctance to hear His voice because I’m afraid He’s going to say something too hard for me to understand or follow.

Whether it is shame or whether it is fear, when I recognize what is blocking His voice, I confess it and return to resting in Jesus with trust.

The third time I asked Jesus my question about adding something to the rooms, I confessed, “I’m sorry, I’m blocking Your answer for some reason- maybe fear of what You will say, but I’m asking again because I want to know,” and again I made my heart open to listen.

I love frogs, Jesus said, His quiet voice unmistakably familiar.

“Frogs?” I asked, amazed, but trying to not dismiss this unexpected answer out of hand. “You love frogs?”

The first thing I thought of concerning frogs was the plague on Egypt, and how they were used as one of them, so it seemed strange to me that Jesus would specifically want those rather slimy creatures in the house.

I love their singing, Jesus explained.

“So do I!” I replied, understanding. “It’s so beautiful… Remember?” I asked, my thoughts drifting to the past.

We remembered when I was a child, how I would lie awake at night with the open window, listening to the peepers singing in the dark. Even when the night was chilly, I would leave it open, warmly snuggled under the blankets, listening to the carolers of spring, the harbingers of warmth, of summer.

“So we’ll have frogs in the house,” I agreed, coming back to the subject. “Where shall they be? There is a fountain already in the rooms, but perhaps there should be something more?”

Something more would be good, Jesus agreed.

“The water flooded under the house,” I suggested, remembering this. A while back, the koi pond overflowed under the back veranda and underneath the rooms, created a kind of shallow marsh of still pools. I never understood why.

“That might be perfect,” I suggested, excitedly. “Maybe that’s why that happened!”

As I was talking with Jesus, I was seeing the inner rooms not as if we were in it, but as though from a little distance away. In this way, I saw the still water under the stone floor, which made me realize that the stone floor would be blocking our rather unlikely amphibious guests from coming and going. They would only be under the house, not in it.

They could come up through the fountain, Jesus suggested, kindly.

During this conversation, as I was listening to Jesus and thinking of this or that, I was aware that He was not giving direct orders, but was giving space for suggestions and feedback. It was as though this whole process was enjoyable to Him because of the way we related to each other. I wanted to know what pleased Him and He wanted to know what pleased me and He was happy to hear each idea.

While I appreciated Jesus' kindness is pointing out how my suggestion could work, I realize it wouldn't do.

“Yes, but even then, they wouldn’t really be living in the house," I told Him, thinking it through, "and if You love them, there should be a special place for them. There should be something in the house for them…”

Then I remembered the long open stretch of the front room. On that side there is a lot of space and it usually acts only as a hallway to the garden. So I said, “Maybe we should put a pond there…”

And I saw that space from a small distance, only now there was a fountain flowing from the top of the inner wall, which is filigreed stone.

“But there’s no place for the water to come from,” I objected, seeing this, because the water was coming from the roof, where there is no natural source of water, and then I pushed that concern aside. “But it doesn’t have to make sense here,” I amended. “It can simply be.”

Then I was standing there with my hands under the flow of clear water. It was flowing strong and falling in a white rush of cascading of bubbles into a sunken fountain set into the floor. The curve of the water as it fell was beautiful and the strong current felt wonderful on my hands, but I wasn’t sure if it was right for frogs.

“But the water is perhaps rushing too fast for the frogs,” I said to Jesus. “I think frogs prefer a still, slow water.”

So then I was seeing a small, shallow, round dish and it was set into the wall at the level of my shoulders. Water was falling from the sides slowly into a slightly larger round, shallow container set into the wall at the level of my waist and from there into an even larger round, shallow container at the level of my ankles. From there, the water fell into a pool set into the stone floor. This pool covered much of the floor on that side of the front room.

Water flowed quietly and peacefully from the top of the fountain all the way to the bottom, and Jesus suggested that it would be lovely for there to be growing things in the water, and I agreed, and there were green flowing plants growing in them. Some were hanging over the edges and were vibrant green and glazed with water as it ran over the plants, and some plants stood upright from the water like Easter lilies and some plants floated on the water like water lilies.

I was walking around it, looking at it from the front and the back, and it was lovely. However, I noticed that the shape of the fountain, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top in a graceful curve, formed a similar silhouette as a closed lotus blossom, and when seen in a horizontal manner, it looked like three opened lotus blossoms, the petals tipped up at the edges to form the edges of the round containers.

Aesthetically, this was beautiful, but symbolically, this made me uneasy, because I associate those symbols with Eastern religions, and I didn’t want anything like that in the inner rooms. Then I realized something for the first time. It was like a light went on in my mind, and in this light, I was seeing the images and the flowers in an entirely new way.

So I put my fingertips lightly on the rim of the middle bowl and I spoke the insight aloud.

This belongs to Jesus, and it always has, as it came from Him. He is the one that created this image and that landscape. They are His own and they speak of Him and reveal Jesus as their Creator.”

Then I was standing close to Jesus, leaning against Him and considering this whole addition to the rooms and it was lovely, filling  as it did that part of the outer room that had been empty and I could see how it would be perfect for frogs, because of the green, growing things and the still water. There were places to sit and places to hide and rest and places to sing.

Then thinking about it, I realized how frogs are humble, unprepossessing creatures, comic with their too long legs and soft bellies and large, blinking eyes, but how beautiful were their voices and how perfectly they were designed for the water! It was only out of their element that they were comic, and even then, that made them charming in their slight helplessness, slipping and sliding a little, but pushing on, living and full of life. And I saw how their skin when wet was like a living jewel, glossy and green and catching other colors sometimes in the light.

I understood better why Jesus loved them so much, with their humble willingness and their chiming voices singing out in the dark, in the spring, because of the life in them calling out to life, the many voices all together.

Looking again at the rooms, I saw that the outflow of the sunken pool had fallen over the edge of the room and into the lawn, and created a small brook with mossy edges that went winding away through the grass. I was filled with delight.

“Oh, something new!” I cried, because there had never before been a stream there, and it had not occurred to me to put one there, and now there was, and it was lovely.

I love it, Jesus said, smiling.

“I love it too! I love a mossy stream!”

Jesus sat down with matter of fact pleasure and put His bare feet into the sunken pool.


This experience is best understood as a parable, and as a parable, it is best understood in the light of this passage:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."
-I Corinthians 1:26-29, NIV

Understood this way, it is clear that I am a frog myself, so to speak. However, we don't look at the world, our neighbors and especially our brothers and sisters, or even ourselves in the light of the systems of the world, which value power, privilege and possession. We see through the lens of Christ, who declared that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters we have done to Him.

Jesus does not simply say that we should be merciful to them by acts of charity, but that however we treat them is how we have treated Him. In the parable, Jesus declares this at the time when He has come in His full glory and power, and has sat down on the throne in all His authority.

This is the kind of reversal which is shown on the cross. On the cross, Jesus was imprisoned by the nails to the cross, condemned to execution as a criminal. He was naked, sick and drying, hungry and thirsty. He was cast outside the city as a stranger to His own people, who rejected Him.

But it was exactly in this death that Jesus triumphed over His enemies:

"[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]."
-Colossians 2:15

As sons and daughter of God and as citizens of the Kingdom of God, we do not walk according to the systems of this world and we do not judge according to the systems of this world.

Instead, we are salt and light, yeast and wheat. We are doing business in the name of the Lamb of God. The talents our King gives us has His name and His image on them, which is love. We do business in His name and with His coin because we know that the kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

We don't see this now, but we serve the Living God who calls things that are not as though they were, and so we follow in His footsteps, living here on earth as the Kingdom of God in heaven. We live it right now.

What makes us salt are the aspects which Jesus blessed in the beatitudes: poverty of spirit, grief over injustice, sorrows and sicknesses, meekness, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, peacemaking and a willingness to accept and even rejoice in the suffering that comes as a result of being His disciples- which certainly will come when we follow in His footsteps. But we are so ready for this that we are carrying our cross with us.

When the apostles were arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus ended His words by saying:

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
-Mark 9:50, NIV

Therefore, we follow the example of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, who knowing that Abba had given all things under His authority, and that He had come from God and was returning to God- knowing this, He knelt down and washed His disciples' feet.

This is shocking and scandalous. This makes no sense according to the world. But we do not serve in the empire of Caesar. All that belongs to him he can have- our treasures aren't kept down here. We do not serve Pharaoh, who built his tomb on the back of slaves in a futile effort to live forever. We have already laid our lives down- we have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer ourselves who live, but Christ in us.

Jesus is Lord. It is the Lamb that is seated in the midst of the throne. He alone is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and praise, because He laid everything down, poured Himself out in perfect obedience of love as the Beloved, the uniquely begotten Son of God, the first born of many though the redemption of HIs sacrifice. His heart is pure love and there is no shadow of turning in Him; He is incorruptible. He is faithful and true, meek and humble of heart. Seeing this example He set, we follow it.

Let us go out of the city built on sand, and go outside the camp to be with Jesus. The world will not know we are His disciples unless we lay down our lives for one another, following His example.

In this way, we go to meet our Lord.


Jesus: When you bring a lamp into the house, do you put it under a box or stuff it under your bed? Or do you set it on top of a table or chest? Those things that are hidden are meant to be revealed, and what is concealed is meant to be brought out where its light can shine.

All who have ears to hear, let them listen.

So consider carefully the things you’re hearing. If you put it to use, you’ll be given more to wrestle with—much more. Those who have listened will receive more, but those who don’t hear will forget even the little they’ve failed to understand.

Here is what the kingdom of God is like: a man who throws seeds onto the earth. Day and night, as he works and as he sleeps, the seeds sprout and climb out into the light, even though he doesn’t understand how it works. It’s as though the soil itself produced the grain somehow—from a sprouted stalk to ripened fruit. But however it happens, when he sees that the grain has grown and ripened, he gets his sickle and begins to cut it because the harvest has come.

What else is the kingdom of God like? What earthly thing can we compare it to? The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the tiniest seed you can sow. But after that seed is planted, it grows into the largest plant in the garden, a plant so big that birds can build their nests in the shade of its branches.

Mark 4:21-32, The Voice