Friday, April 3, 2015

April 3rd

Most of this I've shared at various times, but I've put them together this way for Easter.

Originally written a year and a half ago, on June 9, 2013

Yesterday I watched the unhealthy but not uncommon dynamics playing out in another military family. The young daughter, only four years old, wanted her father’s attention, but he consistently ignored her and then, when she pestered too much, he turned and roared at her, pouring out all this intense, unbridled anger, in the process utterly rejecting her and her request for his attention.

A part of me expected her to roar back at him in return, to be outraged, to point out his profoundly damaging behavior, but of course she didn’t. She’s four years old and a blank slate. She doesn’t know how a father should act- she was learning how right then.

I saw the look on her face; she absorbed the pain and the rejection, she swallowed it whole, accepting it as her lot, as what she deserved, and she gave up on getting his attention. This happened again and again.

I felt sick the entire evening and by the time we went to bed, I felt ill all through me, cramped up in pain, and I was so angry at Jesus I didn’t want to be with Him, and I was so ashamed of this feeling that I could not look at Him.

I knew that thousands and thousands of other children, in this country and throughout the entire world, innocent and helpless and without recourse, were suffering similar and far greater injuries, unable to separate what was happening to them from who they were until possibly when they grew up, if they survived and at some point were loved and had a chance to heal, and this happened generation after generation and I couldn’t understand how Jesus could live with it, how could He live and let it happen.

So I was shouting at Jesus and pushing Him away at the same time, because I was thinking to myself, how can I love Him? And I was saying to Him, how can I love You? How can I trust You, when You let this happen?

Jesus wasn’t giving me any explanations. He wasn’t telling me why or how. Jesus was holding out His arms to me and pleading with me to let Him comfort me, but I kept refusing to accept His comfort because I was too angry at Him, and refusing His love was the most powerful way I could express this.

But Jesus said to me, with His arms outstretched, I’m hurting in the same way, let Me comfort you, you’re breaking My heart.

It was a strong feeling from Him that washed over me- the yearning of His open heart and the pain that He carries, the anguish in Him and His strong desire to heal and comfort and set right- to carry the lambs in His arms, to shield and defend the helpless. I couldn’t turn away from the vulnerability and the authenticity of this feeling that was pouring from Him.

I turned immediately and yielded to Him. We were breathing together and hurting together and He whispered many things, not reasons and not explanations, really, but loving affirmations and I tried to let them sink in but the pain was beyond anything I had known before. It seemed to have gotten worse.

It felt like I was dying- as if I were suffocating under it, and Jesus affirmed this, in fact, that if I could keep my heart open and feel the pain all the way through, it was like a death, and I understood this immediately as good in the light of His own words and way of living and dying.

That is, if I closed my heart or medicated the pain or denied it, it would be like going in circles. But if I accepted the pain and carried it and went through it, no matter how great, there would be a harvest of life on the other side. So I carried this with Him in my open heart like a prayer without words until it eased away and I could sleep.

The next day, on June 10, 2013

I was with Jesus, caught up in love and again feeling the pain that ached all through Him. Jesus was reminding me that in the place of knowledge, there is faith, hope and love and that these three must encompass all the pain in the world, all the pain that knowledge cannot come to terms with right now.

We have faith in our loving, faithful Abba, in the tender and passionate heart of Jesus, in the trustworthy guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit. We have hope that our work of love in the world will bear fruit, no matter how small we may feel it is, and above all, we have love, love which keeps our heart open to each other and to God, love that is patient and kind and long suffering, bearing with each other. Above all things, we put on love.

I was sunk down into His heart, cradled into His arms, hidden under the golden, warm light, wrapped up, enclosed, safe- everything in me, all the shards of my pain, all the brokenness and the hurt and heaviness of myself was carried in His heart, so the shards of my pain that hurt me stab also at His, because Jesus carries me there.

And I was realizing and knowing without words how Jesus carries the whole world in His heart, all that pain cutting into Him and how large He must be- beyond knowing, beyond conception and how it must be like how the even our galaxy is tiny compared to the vastness of space, so that the pain of our one planet is surrounded by billions and billions of light years, countless stars and the cradle of the loving dark, which holds the pain in perspective.

And I was remembering how God became a living, tiny spec in the warm, dark womb of flesh and blood, and grew in the mystery and warmth and frailty of that space and was birthed a living, flesh and blood enfant, helpless, completely vulnerable, completely present in space and time, made manifest, incarnate and grew to be a man and suffered, as a man, incredible physical and emotional and spiritual pain, so much so that His heart of flesh and blood stopped beating- He died. His heart beat once, again and then stopped- silent, still, growing cold, all the physical processes of life ended.

And I was remembering and seeing how Jesus was drawn back up into life, and back up to the Father, resurrected, ascended, glorified- how His heart began beating after the dark and stillness of death, and I saw Jesus in the tomb come sitting up in one swift motion with a gasp of air, and I looked away, because I thought this is too much, too sacred a space for me to see- how could I be seeing this?

But again Jesus presented me to it and again I saw Jesus coming sitting up as though draw up in one motion, taking in a sudden, deep gasp of air, His eyes flying open, remembering again, knowing, and remembering, He put His face in His hands and burst into tears from the sheer intensity of His emotion.

I thought, that’s too much- too much to see and to believe- how could Jesus be that beautifully human?

But Jesus insisted that when He became incarnate, though He remained fully and uniquely God, having all the fullness of God, He became as human as I was, and couldn’t I sympathize with His emotion?

So I thought about what it must have felt like to Jesus, how He had died and suddenly woke to life, to His Father, to the world made new, that He loved so unbearably much- and I thought, yes, in that extraordinary moment, knowing that He had accomplished all the excruciating work that had been coming closer and closer, weighing Him down until He was at the point almost of death and sweat drops of blood, wrestling with it- but now He had drunk that bitter, unbearable cup and now it was finished and behind Him and He would never have to face it again and the world was new and reconciled to His Father through Him and that all that He loved would not have to taste death but live with Him always, which was one of the deepest desires of His heart. Yes, I thought then that I could understand Him bursting into tears.

A year ago, March 17, 2014

Ah, the worship of Him!

“You are the Holy One of God,” I said and suddenly realized something.

I sat back against the arm rest of the couch, filled with amazement and joy and threw my hands in the air. “Do You know why?” I asked Jesus, knowing full well He knew why. “Do You know why that is Your name from ages, why You are called that?”

Jesus leaned toward me, full of love and laughter. Tell Me! Jenny, tell Me why that is- I love to hear from you, I am listening.

Because…” and almost my nerve left me and then I remembered, “Because it means sanctified…” I looked at Him swiftly. “To be holy means to be set apart and You were always set apart. That was Your very name before God- because You were always set apart to be the Redeemer, the Savior, the One who brings life.”

I leaned toward Him and took His face gently in my hands. “The Savior," I whispered with earnest intent, "which means, God saves. You are the very salvation of God, in Yourself, in Your person. That is not just Your name, that is Your very nature. It’s not just what You do, it’s who You are.”

Four months ago, on December 19, 2014

Understanding opened up deeper, like a shaft of light striking down through- how much Jesus had suffered- how when on the cross, He found it very difficult to breathe and could only breathe shallowly because of the intense pain of crucifixion, and how He, like myself, had also suffered helplessness, violence, shame at the hands of men, and how my suffering and His suffering were like a living connection between us.

This connection was like a window into some of the deepest chambers of His heart, and His into mine. I understood without words, in a way that would be impossible to know in any other way, what it felt like for Him to be violently handled with evil, destructive intent, held down and helpless.

I suddenly understood that there was something that I could do with my suffering. I knew the most powerful act of transformation would be to thank Him for how I could know in my heart what it felt like in His.

I knew that by claiming it as a gift of life, of living, inarticulate communion with Jesus’ suffering, I was taking it away from dark and into light- turning it against itself- taking a weapon, an act of destruction and turning it into greater life and more beautiful meaning.

His presence had been all around me and suffusing me, but as this insight shot down through my spirit, I could see that He was standing close to me, bending down tenderly, and I saw on His face a look of tenderness and grief and love that was beyond description.

I leaned forward and threw my arms around His shoulders and clung to Him, and we were caught up in love without words, hearts wide open to that living connection.

“Thank You,” I whispered into His ear. It was a strange feeling. It was as if Jesus and I were in some clear, quiet center in the midst of moving pieces, as if life around us receded into miniature pictures. Then I pulled all the links of understanding up through, like beads of light that went all the way into the dark and pulled it up into light, each link growing brighter, so bright it was hard for my mind to hold it all at once. “Thank You for the gift of knowing Your suffering in this way,” I whispered, holding all the links of light in that one moment, and giving it to Him with thanksgiving.

Jesus’ love was pouring into my heart in a tumbling current so intense, tender and passionate that there were no words.

And I knew that in the end, no matter what I suffered here, I would see Jesus and be with Him and be loved by Him for eternity. He was mine even now, but then, I would be able to know and to comprehend and to love and to relate to Him in the fullness of sight and presence, and so there was nothing to fear.

I understood why Paul said:

“So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day. You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away. Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on.”

II Corinthians 4:16-18

Last month, on March 27 2015

I was resting with Jesus and remembering how He had been tied to the post and flogged. It was sinking in to me, in this particularly real way, that because of Him, I was truly alive, so alive that I seemed to be alight with life. Because of Jesus, because of what He had done, I had been lifted out of death, given new and eternal life, made a new creation, one born of His Spirit, capable of growing up into His life as I abide in Him.

So I was pouring out love and gratitude to Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer, my Life. Without You I would be dead!” I was whispering to Him, in awe, knowing it as a certainty. “Without You I would be dead in sin and decaying, sinking downward with no hope and lost forever. But because of You,” I whispered, “I am alive! I am with You! I am made new and safe.”

I was wishing to speak to Jesus not just at that moment, but also as if I could speak to Him while He was being scourged. So I spoke to Jesus as though He were at that point in time, because of course, He treasures those things regardless of when they are spoken to Him.

“Thank You,” I was whispering to Him. “Thank You. Yeshua, I love You. I love You. I come to You freely, because I love You. Here I am and I love You. I return my life to You, my life which I have from You. Yeshua, I love You.”

When I open my heart like that, sometimes I worry that my offering of love will be rejected or dismissed, because the more vulnerable the offering of love, the greater the risk. It feels risky because I was dismissed and rejected often when I was a child and even when I was a young woman, and the first teachings I learned about God was that He was wiling and able to do the same to me at any time, for the smallest infraction. So there are times when, after worshiping Him, I turn away and hide, which is what I did then.

Jesus turned all of His attention toward me, turning my face to look at Him and He spoke almost sternly, His eyes intent. He said, I love you, Jenny. Believe it.

His intensity was reassuring, like solid ground under my feet, the solid ground on which I could rest myself, and know that I would not be moved, and His words lit up this understanding- that my doubt closed my heart down from receiving His love which was pouring out toward me all the time.

Instead, believing and trusting that He loves me would prepare me to receive it, and receiving it, to return it with joy, which then increases His joy. This is the conscious participation and celebration of loving relationship which is always true and always there, and yet over time becomes increasingly precious, rich and meaningful, because it is delighted in and hallowed.

The love that is the most moving and precious is the love that requires risk to give- to take what I feel I should be protecting at all costs, to take what has been rejected, trampled and tripped up in pieces, to give up all my defenses in trust, and from that place, to love- that is like the choicest wine.

Jesus understands this risk because this is the way He loves from the cross, and His love toward us is unchanging. He knows how deeply it hurts when the offering of love is rejected or dismissed, and yet how breathtaking and better than all things in life it is when that love is recognized, met and cherished.

He is always waiting with open heart to be met. He is looking down the road to see us from a long way off and  He will run shamelessly down the road, His heart pounding, to embrace us before we even reach His house.


Not to us, Lord, not to us,
but to Your name be the glory
for Your unfailing love and faithfulness.
-Psalm 115:1

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.

I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.

The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,

keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.

Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;

he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

-Psalm 34, NIV