Friday, June 5, 2015

June 5th

June 2, 2015

Come meet Me, Jesus said, when I was asking Him please to help me sort through my conflicting feelings regarding whether or not I should get up early in the morning. I was worried I would return to religious obligation, but when He turned it to an invitation, my confusion cleared up. It was no longer a question of earning His presence, it was enjoying the relationship.

Was praying as usual, “I am Your servant…” and had to stop, for the holy awe that took hold me of me- that I was speaking to Jesus Himself, that He was aware of me, that His eyes of love and attention are always on me and that I serve Him. The weight of this realization settled down on me.

“Jesus,” I whispered, in awe.

Jenny, He answered, with love.

“How is it possible?” I asked Him, amazed.

All things are possible through Me, Jesus replied.

“Teach me Your words,” I prayed as I continued, and felt my absolute need to know His words, that I should know them from the depths of my being outward and I reached up the arms of my spirit in entreaty, and in response, I felt Jesus wrap me close in His arms- because He was not high above me after all and I did not have to reach out to Him through a long distance. He was right there.

June 3, 2015

Went outside at five thirty in the morning. At first I didn’t want to. “It’s scary out there,” I said to Jesus.

Not with Me, He replied, and how could I resist the tenderness of His response?

I went, and sat in the chair and listened to the dark of a day before dawn in early June. The  shadowy lawn was etched out by the music of insects, the drone of cars in the distance and the whirring of electric machines.

In the sounds of the morning, there was a melancholy, a sadness. Very little was as it should be- it seemed everything was but a shadow of itself and humans in particular the most tragic- so far from Him and all His ways and His words. I felt His grief somehow carried through the sounds of the cars rushing down the lonely roads in the distance.

One late autumn a few years ago, Keith and I were driving up to Indiana to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. We stopped for gas at this small gas station placed right at the edge of a busy road. Several large highways intersected at this one small factory town. Construction was even then ongoing on a new highway system, but it wasn't finished, so the traffic was a long tangled stream through narrow streets with old, clapboards houses and broken sidewalks.

It was a cloudy day in the late morning, and the exhaust from the waiting cars rose up in the chilly air. The truck was parked facing into the gas station, the dingy windows plastered with faded advertisements and inside the bright space were all the garish colors.

A woman came out of the glass doors. She was an older woman, rail thin and exhausted looking, her mouth sunk inward and pinched. She was bundled in a man's coat too large for her and holding tightly to her few purchases. The suffering that she had been through was written deeply into her face, and her eyes were flashing warning signs. She might have been a saint having a bad day- who doesn't, during the holidays? But in that moment, she symbolized something for me.

I had only recently been caught up in the intoxicating love of God and so I was sometimes seeing things as though for the first time, and seeing this woman, I had a glimpse of the anguish of God- unbearable to us, and how He bears it I do not know, to watch the way in which we are hurt by others and hurt by ourselves until the life grows pinched and hard and weary under layers of despair and hardness, and yet to continue to love us the way He does- always, with open heart.

"How much pain You must feel!" I said to Jesus, in an awful wonder.

Yes, but not with you, Jesus replied in a rush of love. You delight My heart.

I knew then as well as I know now that this is not because He loves me more- Jesus does not have favorites, and this was not because I was living my life perfectly- I was stumbling often and still growing and when I look back, His grace toward me where I was seems almost scandalous. How could Jesus love me the way that I was? No doubt, just a few years from now, I will feel just the same way about how Jesus loves me now.

Jesus' love pours out unbroken toward us all, and because of that open hearted love, we can either hurt Him deeply or bring Him inexpressible joy. I was learning to open my bruised and broken heart and let Jesus right in to the most closed off places of myself- my past and my present life, and so I was healing.

But if I didn't turn, and if I didn't open to Him, I would have remained closed in around the pain, dragging my past behind me like a bag of iron pieces- which is exactly what I had been doing for almost ten years before Jesus began calling to me. That call did not come in gentle circumstances, it came through the betrayal of infertility, which seemed to me the last straw between myself and God. I was ready to be completely finished with Him, but He was just beginning with me.

Even here, right into the hard, thorny plains of our futile labor, God comes to us- even into violent suffering, and there He walks and there He still calls out to us with broken heart, Where are you?

In the dark of my backyard as I sat listening were the voices of the crickets. The air was full of a little chorus of natural sound, the pines were soft brush strokes against the navy blue of the sky, those trees rising up imperceptibly year by year while all around spun in their changes. When Jesus spoke, his voice was in its own way as distinct as any of the other sounds, though there was no sound.

Jenny, I love you, He said. You console Me.

In my spirit I heard His voice and in the same way, I stood and I threw my arms around Jesus and nestled close to His heart and like a parent whose arms were aching for their child, He caught me up warmly close to Him.

As I was caught up in His presence, I remembered how I had been meditating on His words the night before- they all came back to me. I had been thinking about Jesus teaching in the Temple that last week, and how the Pharisees had asked Him about paying taxes.

It was as though I had seen the sun, brilliant and flashing on the dry stones and the murmuring of a large crowd and the pressure of those days mounting up, and the voice of the person calling out to Jesus over the other sounds, and everything then hushed and everyone looking at Him, to see what He would do. I saw somehow the lovely stillness of Him, the glint of humor in the depths of His eyes, His spoken words sharply dividing in unexpected precision the whole of the problem, the whole of Yeshua like a deep well of cool, still waters in the midst of all the glare.

"And You said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's," I quoted to Him, in pleasure, remembering this with Him.

Because Jesus does the same for me all the time, dividing away what is temporal and leaving cleanly what is eternal, what is His, so that each time I find in Him and through Him more of the whole of myself, and what a pleasure this is, to feel the weight of any entangling lie lifted right off me, and to remember again where my life is always hidden.


Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14-12-24, NIV


You have answered Me.

I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.

My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!

All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.

For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.

All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,

They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

Psalm 22:21b-31