Friday, December 11, 2015

No More Let Sins and Sorrows Grow

October 25, 2011 Crying Out

Ever since Jesus has been so close to me and claiming me for His own and teaching me, I have been feeling this intense emotion that is hard to explain- it's as if I have been in jail for years and suddenly someone came along and let me out and at the same time, I realized that I never should have been in that jail. This feeling is so intense that I'm hesitant to give expression to it, but instead, I keep handing it over to Jesus.

Sometimes the feeling wells up in me insistently and I not only hand it over to Him, but turn desperately to Jesus, so that He can explain it to me, so I can properly frame this feeling.

And Jesus always does explain it; it's the same explanation as the first: because of the beliefs I had growing up, I believed that I had irredeemably lost the favor and presence of God and destroyed my best potential of His using me, and what was left of my life was like the toy with the packaging damaged that's been thrown in the discount bin.

Now I am beginning to realize that this belief was wrong. Jesus still loves me. He still values me. He still sees potential in my life. He never left me. He never gave up on me. This is an intense thing to realize, after over a decade of feeling as though my failures defined me.

One night, maybe the second or third night in this process, the feeling of anguish and hurt kept spilling out and Jesus said, let go of it, let it pour out. It's not going to hurt anyone to express it to Me.

He reassured me this way because I have long ago freely and gratefully forgiven any offenses concerning actual people, whom I care about and who were and are sincere and whole hearted followers and lovers of Jesus, and I need His grace and forgiveness myself, and so it is a joy to forgive others as I have been forgiven. I have no anger or offense toward another person, nor do I ever want to carry any of those burdens. So that's why Jesus assured me that I could express my anger in His presence; I would be safe there.

Reassured this way, I started crying out my anguish concerning the beliefs that had so crippled me. As I was, I heard Christ shouting out right alongside me. His phrases and mine were like a chorus. I had a sudden, profoundly moving glimpse into His heart. I blogged about that night, but not in specifics.

And so sometimes, that feeling comes back up. The feeling is like this:

Jesus never gave up on me! I haven't lost my inheritance with Him! It comes from Him, so it can't be lost! Jesus loves me! Jesus pours out His presence on me! There is nothing I can say or nothing I can show to prove that I brought Jesus to me- it was all Him, every bit of it Him. He completed everything and in Him everything in me is complete.

All I had to do was surrender myself to Him in loving trust and accept. And that is what I do day by day. When I want to demonstrate my overflowing love for Him, my gratitude and wonder that are beyond words to express, I surrender more deeply to Jesus, I yield in love- I worship and adore Him in spirit and in truth- in the truth of who He is and who I am through His work. It pours out of me.

But this feeling of fierce joy in Jesus, intense relief, and anger at the old beliefs keeps coming up, and I wish that I wasn't feeling all this. Last night, this feeling was flowing through me, and I tried to stop it up, and then I remembered Jesus and handed it over.

The more the emotion flowed up, the more I handed it over, and the more I handed it over, the more I was drawn into the tender loving presence of Jesus, until it was as though I was held close in His arms. It felt as though Jesus were right beside me and my head was tucked up against His shoulder and He had His cheek to my hair and Jesus said to me in comforting love and reassurance, You're forgetting how deeply wounded you are and how the wounds will over flow as they heal. Emotions will flow up, let them flow and give them over to Me.

I sat perfectly still and simply rested in Jesus, in the feeling of being so close to Him. I saw clearly what He was saying, how true it.

Jesus said, tomorrow, you should write about this, even if you don't publish it. Write it out- that is the way you process emotions and thoughts- that is how I made you.

So I have.

October 26, 2011

Keith's last day of his mission is today. His gout has flared up, he has a cold and he's worn right down. His CO told him to take today off, but Keith insisted on limping in to work anyway. He did consent to sleeping in, so I was able to feed him a nourishing breakfast.

Let me tell you, there is nothing, nothing like re-reading Isaiah to improve one's already great enjoyment of Handel's Messiah. And reading Isaiah while listening to said music? That's a lot of Messianic prophesy all at once.

However, I feel like stories that should be entire books in themselves take up mere paragraphs. Nothing is explained properly. Everything starts out awesome and splendid, and then inexorably becomes worse with small pockets of relief which in the end get wiped out.

But it's fascinating and beautiful to see that even as the earthly kingdom was crumbling away and being carried off and generally falling into corruption and ruin, the prophets were full of visions and promises of a new kingdom. I love seeing glimpses of Jesus all through the Old Testament.

The heart of God is overflowing with emotion. There is hardly a moment or event that does not draw from Him a deep upwelling of grief or sorrow or compassion or love or passionate longing or yearning pity or deeply burning anger that is slow to build and quickly expressed, and followed by healing and restoration.

Sometimes when I'm terrified (and that would be often), Christ reminds me that it's His righteousness that I'm wearing and there is no need to be afraid. And then I found this, which I thought was beautiful:

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

Isaiah 61:10

Once or twice I said to Jesus how glad I was not to have been born back then, under the old covenant. His response was immediate- He said, Even then, you would have been Mine, even then, you would have been called by My Name and heard My voice.

When you are His person, you are His person! There is no getting away from His love. He will search us out, find us where we are, and then He will heal us and He will love on us. Jesus is irresistible.

"Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.

For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]-

[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
-Ephesians 1:4-6

October 27, 2011 In the Holy Spirit

Sometimes when I'm reading along in the Old Testament and I get scared, usually because the text is talking about clean hands or perfect righteousness or right standing or upright before God, I reach out immediately to Jesus. I am driven to Him by my fear of the demands of God, which I cannot meet on my own.

I used to read those verses and chapters in a kind of weary, self-hating despair. I knew I wasn't perfectly righteous. I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt, because no matter how good I was on the outside, it was so far away from being truly worthy and holy.

Now I read those verses and I reach out to Christ- I cling to Him. And I am conscious of Jesus being right beside me. I know myself to be tucked up under His arm and I can reach my hand up and hold on tight to the back of His robe, the way children with grab a fistful of something and I lean my head against His shoulder.

Then I am tucked up and safe, enfolded by Him. And I know that my righteousness and right standing with God come from Jesus- they are His, were His originally, I surrender into it, I live in it, I become defined by it.

There's no other way. There's no other way of earthly perfection, nothing can come close. Only God Himself can satisfy His own righteousness, His right standing, or meet His own holiness.

Sometimes I lean back and Jesus puts His arms around me and enfolds me in His robe, a nice, soft warn and thick robe. I become bundled up and only my head is looking out and His chin is resting on the top of my head and I am safe.

I remember what I think was the first time I felt Jesus that way. I was in the Sanctuary, which was a special building used for special times. I think this might have been during a Feast, which is a church wide gathering, but at the time, the building was empty.

I was up in the galleries; I liked being up there. I had the vague idea that maybe God could be found in one place more than another, which I don't think now. But at the time, I thought that maybe God really did remain in a particular way in the building. I don't remember how old I was, but I would say maybe thirteen or fourteen, maybe older.

So I was up there, and I was praying earnestly, passionately, that God would make me like an oak tree, deeply implanted in Him. I wanted my roots to reach right down deep into Him. I was thinking of Biblical images.

I wonder what moved me to do this. No one asked to. No one knew I was there. I went as silently as I could up the side stairs and crept out to the balcony and prayed from the depth of my soul. This memory increases my growing awareness that Jesus was calling me to Him all my life.

Anyhow, as I stood there, praying, I felt an increasing desire to reach my hands up into the air. I fought this impulse for a while. In the church I grew up in, we never, to my knowledge, lifted our hands. It certainly wasn't anything I was accustomed to do.

Eventually, I couldn't fight it anymore, I just had to. Feeling very self-conscious, and yet relieved, I raised my hands, palms up. This gesture made me feel vulnerable, but I had hardly time to think about that before I felt God reach down and take my hands.

There were no literal hands to be seen; I felt it in my spirit. I was filled with a holy awe, it swept right over me.

That was the first time. After that, from time to time, I would feel Jesus put His hand on my head. Sometimes, during a worship service usually, I would feel Him surround me and take me in His arms. I cherished these moments.

Now I feel this sort of thing all day long. I wake up in the morning, and Jesus is there. He is right there, with me. I end up basically worshiping Him all day long, because I think it almost impossible to be near Him and not end up worshiping Him.

Loving Jesus is worshiping Him. Requiring Him as your most basic necessity is worshiping Him. Sometimes I end up dancing in the kitchen and I catch myself doing it and chide myself, I tell myself, pull yourself together, don't be ridiculous. But then the joy bubbles up again and I'm dancing around on tiptoe again.

Often Jesus puts His hands on my shoulders, or lays His hand gently against the side of my face, in which case I almost always turn my face into His hand, just instinctively. Or He puts His arms around me and leans His head against mine. I've actually gotten used to it. Not that I take it for granted- no never- it's just that it no longer shocks me. It's a familiar sensation.

I never see Jesus distinctly, in my spirit, though sometimes it seems as though I know exactly where He is standing in the room. I don't see Jesus, but I feel these gifts of love. They are like parables of His love that He demonstrates for me, so that I understand in my own language how much He cares for me.

In my experience, if you try to manage your own perfection, what ends up happening is you spend all your time focused on your imperfections, to the exclusion of Jesus. All one's energy is directed toward oneself, wrestling with the flesh, wrestling with unacceptable thoughts, wrestling with bad attitudes, just wrestling with oneself.

This leaves one with no time just to be with Jesus, or to learn from Him. In my experience, it builds resentment, despair, exhaustion and self-hatred. Or pride, self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, which are equally or perhaps even more disastrous.

On the other hand, if one's imperfections and needs drive you to Him, then all is well! You turn from the imperfection and yield to Him. That is repentance- a turning away. Turn right toward Jesus and confess and yield, the sooner the better.

Then there is peace and trust. One's inability is no longer terrifying or ceaselessly troubling, because in Jesus there is everything one needs- strength, forgiveness, restoration, love, clarity, peace. He will always be there. He will always help. And one can simply be with Him! There is no earning of Him, no winning Him- Jesus is a gift, He comes freely, of His own will.

Jesus wishes you to yield everything to Him, the broken, the dirty, the exhausted, the unfinished, the impossible. Surrender it and yourself to Him and fall back into Him; only He can fix it. Only Jesus has the strength and the creative ability and the living, healing power to make whole and right.

Last night, I was all bundled up close to Jesus, and loving Him and I said, "I worship You." It's my new thing- I don't normally use that phrase; I usually just love Him, which I can't help but think is essentially the same thing.

So, anyway, I felt Jesus draw even closer to me, as though taking my face in His hands, and He said in this tone of voice that was so infinitely tender and loving, How formal we are tonight!

He was teasing me! My first reaction was surprised delight, then I felt bashful and then I laughed. Because it was true; when I used that phrase, it was as though I pulled myself slightly away from Jesus, in order to become more official or something. It wasn't the usual organic heart flow that just streamed up out of my heart like a song no one else knew the words to.

Sometimes it takes me by surprise to realize that I've never actually seen Jesus. I know Him in such a personal way that it seems strange that I haven't met Him in person at some point or other. I've never seen His face; I've never audibly heard His voice.

The other night, I was thinking about a certain time in my life that I was ashamed of, and in the course of working through some line of thought about that time, I checked in with Jesus. I asked Him, in this weary, ashamed tone of voice, "Don't You think so too?"

He said tenderly, I don't remember.

He's so unexpected! Joy filled my entire being. He didn't remember, because He doesn't remember our sins; He doesn't bring them to mind. And again, it washed over me with profound awe and joy indescribable- that I was talking to Jesus. Jesus was with me.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
-Isaac Watts