Friday, July 10, 2015

July 10th

Four years ago, December 8, 2011

Last night I was caught up in one of those moments when all my attention is on Christ, as if I am surrounded by Him. I was talking to Him- I said, "I like our story! I'm glad we have a story- it's such a great love story."

I knew Jesus, being the Author of everything, would be able to empathize fully with my appreciation -being the author He made me- of a good story.

I felt Him take my chin in His hand. He tipped my face up to Him, leaned down close to me, and said, And we haven't even reached the end yet. There is no way I can describe both the authority and tenderness that His voice contained.

I saw a little glimpse of glory behind His words. He said that partly because He loves me and partly to comfort me because I have to wait for the ending, and it feels like a long wait.

When He spoke, I had to physically lean against the wall and take a few deep breaths. That is usually how His presence affects me- I stand still, and I have to breathe deeply and slowly. Sometimes I have to put a hand or my head to the wall, to steady myself because my legs feel weak. Sometimes I must lift my hands in an otherwise empty room and close my eyes and stand on my tiptoes, because I flooded by Him, riveted to the spot by Him.

Last night, Keith came up to me and put his arms around me. I heard Jesus whisper to me: listen- pay attention to this.

"Honey," Keith said, "You are the best wife ever. I can't describe it. Most guys, when they get home, are stressed by being home. But you are so peaceful! Just being around you takes all my stress away. You are the most loving and generous woman I've ever known."

I knew Jesus asked me to listen because otherwise, I would have pushed that feedback right away, right out of my consideration, which is what I tend to do with compliments. But Jesus was saying, this is the result of giving yourself over to Me, this is how I can spill over through your life into those around you.

This March 4, 2015

Last night, I was seeing Jesus as though He were on earth, but before His earthly ministry.

(I have begged Jesus many times to let me see His whole life on earth as it actually happened, but He has told me that I can only see it that way once I’m with Him in heaven. In the meantime, these ways of seeing Jesus are not literal. They are spiritual illustrations of His nature and gifts of relationship given through the Holy Spirit, so they have both symbolic and personal value to me and for those reasons I treasure them.)

I saw Jesus standing on the brow of a low hill where He and some others I could not see clearly were building a house. He was standing, looking at me with His tools in His hands as I came running to Him. Everything was drenched in golden, hot sunlight. I ran right into His open arms. We sat down together in the shade of a tree.

His hair was dusty, thick and dark, His beard thick and textured, everything warm from the sun; His clothes and hair smelled cleanly of sweat and dust and sun. When He lifted His head, His face was human, Hebrew, incredibly gentle, eyes luminous, gentle and deep set, His eye lashes thick and dark, His cheekbones strong, His face broad, His whole face and expression lost somewhere in depth of love and quietness.

I cradled His heavy head in my arms, tracing the skin of His forehead, the skin as yet unscarred; I was lost in love and wonder, deep down in the quiet. I touched His dark hair with my fingertips; it was tangled and dusty from His day's labor outside, and my thoughts moved away from the cruel crown that would be forced down onto His head and to the glorious destiny that awaited Jesus beyond His Passion and resurrection.

“One day, You will wear a crown,” I whispered to Him.

That crown will be you, He replied, His voice so quiet.

“Make me clear, luminous and beautiful for You, to fit me for that,” I whispered, not looking away from His eyes. “Make me as beautiful as possible, so I can give it all to You.”

Last month, June 19, 2015

Remembered again that all judgment has been given to Jesus and was filled with awe and the urgent conviction I must be right with Him, as I will stand before Him one day and in my fear of this, Jesus said to me, Have that conversation with Me now.

Because that is the perfect way to address the unnecessary fear and any real concerns- each day and each hour and always to remember that we are with Him now as we will be then, like how it says in I John:

And now, my little children, stay in happy fellowship with the Lord so that when he comes you will be sure that all is well and will not have to be ashamed and shrink back from meeting him. Since we know that God is always good and does only right, we may rightly assume that all those who do right are his children.
-I John 2:28-29

And so I threw myself into Jesus’ arms with abandon- because there is no other place to turn and in relief, because He is my home, and I asked Jesus, “Do I please You? Am I pleasing You?”

You please Me very much, Jesus assured me, holding me close. It took me a moment to let this settle in, and when it did, I felt grave.

“Thanks be to God,” I said to Him in sincere gratitude. “Glory be to God,” I said again, because my successes are all due to Him and thank God that He is my Savior and my Redeemer and my Life.

June 28, 2015

This was my verse this morning-

“Because I have done what is right, I will see you. When I awake, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face to face.”

-Psalm 17:15

Expand, Jesus said to me last night, when I reached out for Him. He spoke it like a command.

“How? How do I expand myself?” I asked Him, startled, but willing to obey. “You must do it for me. Holy Spirit, help me; I must trust You to do it…”

I knew why Jesus said that. My fear and awe of Him have become too great for me to go to Jesus in the simple way that I had before, and so my faith had to increase to such depth that I could believe that even in His greatness and power and glory, that I was still with Him and He with me.

Because it’s true that Jesus is with me, and that I live united to His life, abiding in Him, and it is also true that Jesus is the Living God, and that He exists everywhere, upholding and filling all things, but also, in this most sacred and past understanding way of knowing, that He physically exists somewhere in the unsearchable  and intimate presence of His Father and that He will physically return to this earth in all His glory, which is past knowing right now and in His authority, which is unquestioned, and He will judge the living and the dead, and we will stand in His full presence.

So I had a hard time getting my spirit to come off the floor where I was face down before Him. I reached out for my prayers, the prayers that I pray with all that I am, each line like a handhold.

“Jesus… Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that I might perfectly love You…” At this, a surge of love for Him rose up through me. With awe and gratitude as I clung to Him, because now I could see Him and I was held safely by Jesus- Jesus! “That I might perfectly love You,” I repeated in a whisper, praying this to Him face to face with my whole heart, “and that I might worthily magnify Your great name…” And again, a huge wave of His Holy Spirit washed through me and the enormity of what I was asking was impressed on me, because how is it possible to worthily magnify the name of Jesus? How could anyone dare to ask that? But how could we do less? “And it must be and can only be through Your Holy Spirit,” I whispered to Him. “Help me to do it through Your Holy Spirit…”

But still the presence of Jesus and my knowledge and awareness of Him were too great for my faith to encompass, and Jesus said, again clearly and firmly, Expand.

I thought to myself, almost in fear- expand to what? What? I was trembling within, thinking, what else? Would I see Him? There was no doubt in my mind that if I actually saw Jesus with my own eyes, and in His glory, I would fall down as did John the beloved disciple- no matter how deeply I knew I was loved and cherished by Jesus, and I do know it- to actually see Him would sweep over me unstoppably and on my own, I would not dare to lift my head. Even so, I would rather be lying at His feet than anywhere else in the world.

I remembered my ease and familiarity with Jesus- years of such tender and dear familiarity and I wondered how on earth had I been able to do that? The fact is, it came from Jesus. First, because He created me to long for Him and to be with Him, as He has told me many times, and secondly, because He taught it to me. But I could not go back to that first faith. My knowledge and perception of Jesus had grown too wide and deep for it. I needed an expanded faith.

Then I remembered another prayer, and standing before Jesus in my spirit, I stretched out my arms to their full extent, and putting my whole faith and whole self into HIs hands through I prayed. I had to pray slowly, because every few words, I had to stop and breathe, and then reach for Him and then pray again:

"For I know Whom I have believed in, and am persuaded... by You Yourself... that He... that You are able... to keep all! All that which I've committed... unto You and for You and by You... against and until that day."

When I finished, I felt emotionally and spiritually spent, as I had poured every last drop of faith I had had into the prayer. I did feel expanded and also quiet and still. In my spirit, I entwined my fingers through His and held His hand in breathless wonder and put the back of His hand to my cheek. “Just this is enough,” I whispered to Jesus.

Is it? He asked, with His tender and loving humor. Of course it is not. He knows this because He knows my heart better than I do.

“No, it is not,” I confessed, humbly. “My hunger and longing for You are without end. Until I see You as You are, I will always end up wanting more.”

I don’t know how to hold the two things at once- the fact is, that holding His hand to my face is so much that I feel I could do that alone for eternity. And yet, there is so much more and I will always want more. Both are true and sit side by side in my heart and because of it, I can never remain in the one place. I am always being drawn by Him and so I am running after Him swiftly and breathlessly, and at the same time, held and intoxicated. It's like being at the center of the potter's wheel and it never stops spinning.

June 28, 2015

In the evening, was standing still, lost in thoughts of Jesus when I felt Him draw close and wrap me in His arms. I leaned back into His embrace with welcome relief and recognition.

“Just this would have been enough, once,” I said to Him, ruefully. I was remembering that first year when perceiving such things were the greatest gift I could imagine Him giving me and I recorded them, pondered them and cherished them. Now I think of them as an appetizer and am eager to move onto stronger meats.

Yes, Jesus agreed without words, not in judgment, but in perfect understanding of me. Then He spoke again and this time His voice was articulated and strong- I’m taking you somewhere.

“Yes,” I acknowledged dreamily, lost in thought and thinking how often the theme has been coming up lately- moving on, going somewhere, how Abraham left all that he knew for an unknown destination. He didn’t know where he was going, and he still went in obedient faith. I had read that recently and it struck me as though for the first time. Where did he get that faith from?

“But where?” I asked Jesus suddenly, my thoughts focusing, realizing I was hearing something important, but He did not reply.

Later in the evening, as I was resting with Jesus, I said to Him, realizing it in a new way, “You are my God!” Jesus of Nazareth is not just my teacher or inspiration or hope, though He is all that too, but He is my God.

“I revere You and fear You and worship You and trust You and adore You and serve You and obey You as my God and You are my only God and I have no other before You, by the grace of Your cleansing and refining Holy Spirit, and You are One God with Abba and His one perfect and manifest expression and there is no other god but You. You are the only living God and I serve, obey and worship You."

At first when I was saying these things, there was no response in my spirit from Jesus as there usually is, so I felt silly to be saying it to the silence, but I know it pleases Him and He does not have to constantly guide me as a child needing validation at each step, though He often does. I  worshiped Him in the silence, believing that this faith would only enrich the offering of love.

And then there was His love. His voice was an answering murmur of overflowing love after I spoke, so my voice and His voice were playing parts in a song like a duet. Then I rested in the resonant silence, knowing that prayer that I prayed would always rise up before Him and that it pleased Him very much, and I remembered again what Jesus had said earlier.

“But where?” I asked Jesus again.

To be with Me, He replied, strongly, clearly.

It took me a little while to process this in the light of His increased presence, but when I did, I felt almost faint with longing.

“Come soon,” I whispered to Him with my whole self. “I am longing to be with You, to know You as You are. Your beloved is sick with longing for You. Wake me from this half dream to the perfection of Your presence and Your face.”

Then I remembered my family, then I was confused and didn't know how to pray, so I prayed His will be done. (At the time, I assumed Jesus was either speaking about a clearer way of seeing and being with Him or possibly my passing away, but now I think He meant that I would be with Him more closely in the understanding of His heart, as that is what happened later, and because of His answer below. But the things Jesus says to me I only faintly understand when He first says them. They grow richer with meaning over time.)

Just a little while longer, Jesus replied, comfortingly, strongly. Be patient through just a little more refining.

June 30, 2015

Today as I prayed, ended up breaking down into tears and crying as I finished the Lord’s Prayer, asking Abba to deliver this world from evil, not because I was uncertain that He would, but because I remembered that He certainly would deliver us. “How long, Oh Lord, how long?” I cried out to Him from the depths of my heart, because in the light of this knowledge, the continuing suffering and darkness appeared all the more unbearable.

Then I ended up praying to Them in grief while tears went running down my face, and confessing to Abba that I was so weary and this body felt heavy and bruised and battered and I was worn down by this partial sight and tired of my imperfections that are so embarrassing. Although all the while I am being refined, the more refined He causes me to be, the more aware I am of how far I am from the perfect freedom, joy and clarity that there will be, and wanting to be done entirely with this whole aching, groaning, heavy process, and that I longed like water for the clarity and freedom of being with Jesus in the fullness of His presence and to be done with the blunted burden of this body and this half sight.

“Do You hear me? Do You hear what I’m saying?” I asked, in a jumble of feeling after having poured out my heart.

Oh My Jenny, I hear you, Jesus said, in loving rush of comfort and sympathy, and I felt Him put His hand on my back in comfort.

July 1, 2015

Was praying in the usual way again for the first time after vacation, and because it was during the day, I had my head phones on and was listening to Bach’s Cantata BWV 97 as I always do when the room is not otherwise quiet, and at the first strains of the song, I could hardly keep my focus on the words of my prayers for the pleasure of hearing the music. The more I prayed, the more joy I felt, until for a long time, I was doing nothing but dancing with Jesus. I would take up a phrase of prayer and then I would be swinging away with Him, caught up in this heady and delicious delight of Him, the beauty of His faithfulness and the sweeping interwoven movements of the music; the prayer, the music and the dancing became all one thing.

I reached the third prayer and settled down to pray like leaning my small weight onto a well worn and comfortable yoke in preparation to pour out my heart to Abba, because most of the weight of that prayer is on Jesus, who is pulling with me, and then I reached the last few phrases and as I did, they came slower and deeper than usual.

"Oh heavenly Father, do not put us to the test, for who could pass that test before You, but Your Son Jesus Christ, who passed with flying colors, who passed those tests as Man, who had known no sin that we might become the righteousness of God- do not put us to the test, but in Your mercy, deliver us..."

I remembered how God brought His children up out of Egypt, how so often He defined Himself by this, so I prayed, "Deliver us, for Your name is… Your name is I Am that I Am… Your name is Jesus, God's Salvation. You are the God that brought your children up out of the land of death, slavery, hard labor, infanticide, and corruption. That is who You are! You are the God who delivers Your children from death to a new land, to worship You and to rest on Your Sabbath…"

Then my thoughts went outward, as it dawned on me that Israel was a sign to the whole world of the nature and purposes of God, so I prayed, "Deliver this world from evil- the slavery of death, from hard labor and corruption, for we are all your children, made in Your image. Deliver us, for that is who You are! Bring us into the peace of Your Sabbath rest through the work of Your Son Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of the Sabbath, who undid death, led captivity captive, who is the Life and the Resurrection and holds the keys of death and hades and who by His blood redeemed us from the slavery of sin and death to the freedom and peace of sons and daughters of God.

"Bring us out of death and evil and into the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, which is the true Sabbath that will never end, which is Heaven on earth in everlasting and peaceful harmony…"

I was seeing and remembering how the gates of the heavenly city are never closed because it is never night there, and remembering the misery that cannot come in and my heart was torn in passionate and overflowing compassion and longing, and I prayed, "Oh my loving Father, the gates are never closed! Let them all come in! Let them all come in and drink and be healed! Bring them all in, Oh my Father! Let none be left behind! I also am unwilling that any should perish, but that all should turn and be saved!"

My heart was full of yearning desire, and although I was haunted by the possibility that they might yet choose their own misery over God even at the threshold of Paradise, I felt that it was impossible for me to enjoy my rest if others remained outside. I knew I was inside the Heavenly City because I was looking out through the open gates, and it was tragic to me and unbearable that they should be open and yet not everyone within, so I opened my arms and poured out my request to my heavenly Daddy, "Let me call them in through the gates! Let me call them in to You! Let them all come in to know You and to be saved!"

Write this, Jesus said, interrupting my prayers.

“Right now?” I asked Him, slightly startled that He had just interrupted the flow of my prayer.

Right now, He said.

So I stopped in the middle of the prayer and wrote the phrases down and then I finished it- "For Thine is the Kingdom, the beautiful Kingdom of Light, Thine is all the power and all the authority, and to Thee goes all the glory, forever and ever, amen, for no one but You could ever do this! Only You, that we might all know that You alone are God and beside You there is no other, and Your perfect and manifest expression is Your Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Son of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath, and of His Kingdom and of His peace there shall be no end, amen."

July 3, 2015

Just looked up the English translation for that Cantata that begins, "In allen meinen Taten," and this is what it is saying:

"In all that I do I am led by God’s counsel, who can do all and owns all; in everything he must give, if it is to turn out well, his own advice and counsel to me.

Early or late nothing comes from all my efforts, my anxiety is in vain; he may deal with my affairs according to his will, I entrust them to his care.

Nothing can happen to me except what he has foreseen and what is a blessing for me. I take as he gives; what to him is pleasing from me is the very thing I choose also myself.

I trust in his grace that from all harm, from all evil protects me; if I live according to his laws, then there is nothing to harm me, nothing lacking that is useful for me.

May it be his will from my sins in his mercy to release me, to cancel out my guilt; on my transgressions he will not pronounce a harsh sentence and he will still have patience with me.

Whether I lie down late or wake up early, whether I stay in or go out, in weakness and in bondage, whatever happens to confront me, yet his word is my consolation.

If it is his decision, then I will go undeterred to meet my fate! No misfortune whatsoever shall be too harsh for me, I shall overcome it.

To him I have entrusted myself in dying and in living, whenever he bids me; whether it may be today or tomorrow I leave to his care, he alone knows the right time.

Therefore, my soul, be true to yourself and trust him alone who has created you. Come what may, your Father in heaven knows what is best in all situations."

I had goose bumps. This, this, is what has been the background to my prayers! I sat there with my face in my hands, eyes filled with tears, listening to the music and knowing for the first time what it meant.

It's like we are going along, caught up in the beautiful strains of a melody that we don't understand, and then one day, the words are revealed in all their meaning, beauty and form, and the prayer is depthless and perfect- it was exactly right.

It is like a tiny glimpse of the glory of God revealed, after we have served Him for so long down here, and realizing that nothing has been in vain after all, that everything was surrounded and up held by God as He wove Himself into the work.

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’”

Ezekiel 37:1-14, NKJV