Friday, October 30, 2015


Returning to the back stories, this picks up right where the last blog left off and continues on. At that time, some of these blogs were posted and some were not, but I include them all here, with some editing for clarification.

October 3, 2011

Yesterday morning, as I sat down to work on this blog- yet another blog about Jesus, I said to Him, "I can't sling another one at them! And by the way, when is everything going to go back to normal? Besides, what if I'm making You look ridiculous? Who am I to say what You're like?"

I don't want it to go back to normal. I never want it to. But I could write a blog about how Keith and I went to the Aquarium, and how we saw a shark.

...or I could blog about how God told me to take a jacket with me.

How do you know it was God? you may well ask. Well, I talk to myself so much, believe me, I know the sound of my own voice. And Jesus has been talking to me so much lately that I'm getting really good at recognizing His voice. Besides, as His sheep, we know His voice and will follow Him, but the voice of a stranger we will run from.

Did I take the jacket? No. I was all, I'm fine! It's warm out. But that's sweet of You.

Guess what? Big surprise- Atlanta was cold.

Was He angry? Not at all. He was with me just the same, only I was cold. But I've been amazed to realize how practical He is. He cares about the stuff of daily life.

Sometimes I think, I must be boring Jesus, or that He must be getting tired of constantly being drawn into my internal dialogue. So I checked in on that. Immediately Jesus said that His thoughts toward me were so vast they were beyond counting and I wasn't tiring Him out in the least:

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
-Psalm 139:17-18

(At this early point, I couldn't understand why Jesus' presence was around me all the time and I desperately did not want Him to leave, so I kept up an almost constantly running conversation with Him. If I was thinking about or doing something, I was thinking about it and doing it while talking to Jesus about it. Eventually, this exhausted me. I found that even in the quiet, Jesus remained with me.)

Last night, I decided I should pray the Lord's Prayer. I settled in and I was all, "Let's pray the Lord's Prayer!"

And Jesus said, Why, little one? Why should we do that?

I was taken aback by this response. After all, that's the prayer He Himself taught! So I told Him, because we had the night before, and it had been a really great experience, so shouldn't we repeat the experience?

Why do you think that, little one? He asked me again.

I was floored. I thought sadly of all those nights I'd knelt down by the side of the bed, folded my hands, and prayed by rote and then got up feeling almost as guilty and ineffective as I'd had before I'd prayed. How sadly and unnecessarily empty that had been- I had known it was even then. And yet, I had been chained by my guilt to that position, and to those words.

It reminded me of when He went up the mountain, and was transfigured, and is talking to Moses and Elijah. And Peter, babbling in fear, says, "This is awesome! This is great! Let's set up little houses (booths, tents) for each of you!" (I paraphrase, of course.) Peter doesn't end up doing that, though, because he follows Jesus down the mountain.

I realized that no matter how great the last moment was, it's better to stay with Jesus than hang back and build a little monument to the past experience, no matter how truly wonderful it was. Remembering it and being shaped by it is one thing, but living there is another.

Peter could have built a little house as an act of love and worship, but Jesus wouldn't have been living in it. He would have been out and about, doing His work amid the people. If Peter wanted to be with Him, he would have to treasure that past experience in his heart, pondering it and learning from it, but then continue to follow Jesus.

(Years later, I now pray the same five prayers every morning! Not only does He continually and increasingly answer these prayers, but He is forming me through them. However, it is important to note that one of the very first things Jesus taught me was not to cling to the past experience, but to walk forward with Him into the new, trusting Jesus and responding to Him in an authentic way. It was important for Jesus to teach me this because legalism relies heavily upon rote formula and being trained by legalism, I tended to return to that if left to my own devices. Also, and even more importantly, Jesus had to teach me not to cling to past experiences with Him, but to trust Him in the present moment.)

Who knew that following Christ would actually contain so much living, breathing freedom?

"The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.
-Romans 8:4-5, The Message

October 4, 2011

It's cold this morning. In the fall, the sound of traffic becomes even more relentless. I can hear the sound rising and falling outside the open windows that face the back of the house. It was dark this morning, dark enough that I moved around the kitchen more by memory than sight.

I can't even express the half of what I feel lately. I realized last night what Jesus has been doing in my heart; He's been taking away my shame and fear and replacing it with His love for me. He's showing me how He sees me.

I keep thinking, this is too much for me. But the fact of the matter is, Jesus loves me because He created me. So I don't have to worry about getting all puffed up with pride, because it's nothing that I've done or could ever have earned. He made me, because He wanted me. He made me the way I am, because it pleased Him to do so.

My part is merely to yield to Him. I get to choose that! Jesus doesn't compel me, He draws me. I don't think I'll ever get over the wonder of it. I may yield myself to God, if I choose. And, oh! I choose to.

I know I sound like a crazy person, but I can't help it. Regular life goes on. I do all the things I normally do. I feed the dogs, I make the bed, I make dinner. I watch TV, I clean the house. I'm finally going to put up fall decorations, now that the weather is changed.

It's just that my inner life is so... illuminated or lit up, or full of joy or some other thing that I have no words for. And instead of writing all morning and afternoon long, I'm reading, reading, reading the Scriptures. And in the afternoon, I'm wore out, and must absorb everything that I read that morning. And then I stay up at night, just being with Him.

October 5, 2011

I had a hard time trying to put into words what I was learning. The same goes for this blog. I find it increasingly difficult to articulate my experiences. I want to, I don't know how.

From the time I was a young girl, I was intoxicated with the idea that I was loved by God Himself. Every story that I love best is a pale shadow of this deeper wonder, this compelling desire. I just can't think of anything more thrilling than that.

I still can't.

I used to think I would have to wait until the next life before I could be near Jesus. Now I know I was wrong.

I used to think that following the rules was the same as following Jesus- I really thought this! Now I know I was wrong. I can't keep the rules, no one of us could, but Jesus could and did. Because He lives in us, the rules are satisfied through Him. Jesus will continuously transform my life from the inside out.

I used to think He was put off by my human nature, disgusted by it. What a thing to think! He's the author of my human nature! Jesus took on human nature and glorified it! Jesus understands me better than I understand myself.

I used to think that Jesus was callous toward my physical body, and that He valued only my spiritual being. Now I know I was wrong. He cares whether or not I am tired or hungry or cold. He tenderly cares about these things and provides for them.

These five or so days have been a time of intense healing. He did not hesitate to reach right down into the heart of my wounds. Jesus poured out His love in ways that were tender and practical, as well as in ways that were beyond understanding.

It was as though I saw Jesus! I read verses I've read many times before, only this time, they were alive. He has been illuminating the meaning of the Scriptures and the light of this shines through what I used to assume.

At some point yesterday, I remembered that I used to read the Song of Songs. I would sit by the window and read it all the way through. I remembered specifically one phrase: Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm. I remembered how passionately I had prayed that to Him.

Yesterday, Jesus told me, "I heard you. I never forgot."

I wish I could blog better about how I am feeling, but I can't. Anyway, my life hasn't radically changed. It's almost the same outward life. He did not lay any awful or unnatural burden on me. I do everything that I used to do, only it means more and I feel more joy in doing it.

At some point here, I'll start writing again, and who knows how my novel will be impacted by all this. (At this time, I was near the end of writing my second full length novel and I was hoping to get one or the other of them published and become an author. However, I have changed so much that I doubt I could publish either one. I still agree with the principles of the story, but I couldn't keep the same symbols in place. I'd have to write a completely different story. But I don't have time to do any of that right now.)

But I don't have to worry about tomorrow. I have all of today to live in.

October 6, 2011

I keep wondering what this blog must sound like to someone who hasn't had a Christian background. I can see someone being all, "Aww! Isn't that cute. She so longs to experience God that she's making him up. That's kind of adorable... and a little creepy."

I think I would think that too. Only, then I would begin to wonder, what if He is real? What if she is talking to Him? What if it's possible to talk to God? Oh my goodness. I must look into this. I must talk to God. If there is a way, I must find out.

And I have to blog about it or I will burst.

Okay, maybe not literally, but I would end up talking to the dogs, at great length and with great animation, about how amazing Jesus is. And that's just not the same.

So, last night I was reading about the part where Christ said, "I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing."

And fear gripped me. I thought, Oh no! What if I'm not producing fruit? I'll be cast off! Thrown away! Burned!

(This was a very real fear. How can I capture the extent or power of this fear of being cast off, utterly rejected by God and then destroyed by fire for not producing what He wanted? I don't know that I can. But this fear did not produce in me anything good, other than a deep distrust of God and a desire to keep Him at arm's length. It was this kind of fear that Jesus was unraveling, not with intellectual explanation, but simply with an almost constant outpouring of His patient, tenderhearted grace and mercy. This meant that I continued not to have an exact or intellectual explanation, but that I trusted His heart of love anyway, even not knowing, and trusted that He would teach me more as I went along, which is exactly what happened.)

Then I wondered, what is this fruit, exactly? I vaguely remembered something about fruits of the spirit from Sunday School lessons of long ago, but I couldn't bring them to mind, so I googled it, as I could not remember where they were listed in the Bible.

As gingerly as possible, I skimmed over the links, looking only for the verse. It was in Galatians, chapter 5. My heart sank. I couldn't remember what Galatians was about, because I hadn't begun to read it again yet, and it was late at night, and I was worried that I would have to face another condemning belief. Still though, I looked it up, trusting Jesus to help me and to be with me. Here's what I found (I have quoted them in the Message version, but I have included links to the AMPC version):

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

“I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ's hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love."
-Galatians 5:1-6, The Message

So... I'm just sitting there, stunned. Stunned.  I had to actually pound the desk with my fist a couple times. I had to read it over and over again.

Then I read some more.

"You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?"
-Galatians 3:1-5

I was torn between jumping up and down out of sheer joy and pounding my head against the wall out of sheer frustration. It was here all my life, and I never got this before. I never understood it, and it was always right there.

I had to pull up facebook and virtually yell at my poor dad, who happened to be on line, thank goodness.


Poor dad. But he had, and could empathize.

And just because I haven't thrown enough Galatians at you, here's some more:

"Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren't perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was "trying to be good," I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."
-Galatians 2:17-21

I highly recommend reading the entire book. It does also talk about the fruits of the Spirit, and I was rather taken aback to realize that I actually recognized some of them in my character. Of course, I can't take any credit for them... thankfully! It is the Holy Spirit, through the presence of God, working these things out in my life because I trust Jesus.

And just because I haven't put enough Galatians in the original post, here is some more in conclusion, in the Voice version, with the commentary of that version included in italics:

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. For the whole law comes down to this one instruction: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” so why all this vicious gnawing on each other? If you are not careful, you will find you’ve eaten each other alive!

Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings. For everything the flesh desires goes against the Spirit, and everything the Spirit desires goes against the flesh. There is a constant battle raging between them that prevents you from doing the good you want to do.

But when you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.

It’s clear that our flesh entices us into practicing some of its most heinous acts: participating in corrupt sexual relationships, impurity, unbridled lust, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, arguing, jealousy, anger, selfishness, contentiousness, division, envy of others’ good fortune, drunkenness, drunken revelry, and other shameful vices that plague humankind. I told you this clearly before, and I only tell you again so there is no room for confusion: those who give in to these ways will not inherit the kingdom of God.

[Paul has been preaching about the call of God to freedom, and so he now spells it out: we are done with the demands of the law; now we are free to live in the Spirit and to be truly right with God. As free people, the Spirit gives us the characteristics of Jesus; we, too, can freely love in joy and peace. We can have patience along with kindness and faithfulness that can only come from the Father. We can reflect the goodness of God while being gentle in operating with self-control. For those who follow Him and live in the Spirit, these characteristics or fruits are a gift from God. As we grow in the faith, we find that we belong to God and can walk daily in the Spirit.]

The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us.

Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit. This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy.

-Galatians 5:13-26, The Voice