Friday, January 8, 2016

In The Acceptable Year

November 8, 2011 Created That Way

Keith's mom is in the hospital. It seems her problems are coming to a head and some decision must be made regarding her future. This is very difficult for Keith to move through, naturally.

Last night, I asked Jesus to surround Keith with His love and then I paused and thought maybe that was a silly thing to ask for, because it's already true. So I said, please show him your love, let him feel Your love.

And Jesus said, I do that through you- through you, I demonstrate My love and care of Keith.

I thought, goodness, how perfectly true that is! We are the body of Christ and we demonstrate His love to the people around us, and who is nearer than a spouse? We can come alongside Jesus, as it were, in His loving work. That's part of the plan.

So I have been conscious in loving on Keith a lot more than usual lately.

But, after that sunk in, I thought about it a little more and a thought kept popping up and I kept squashing the thought, because I felt it was wrong. Then I gave up trying to squash it because Jesus knows what I'm thinking anyway and it's silly to pretend otherwise.

I asked Him tentatively, "I don't want to sound arrogant or... wrong or going against Your plan. But if it's possible, I prefer to receive Your love... directly from You. I'd like to have it straight from You, straight from the Source..."

And He said, I created you that way.

Oh, the thrill that filled my soul! The worship and wonder that filled me! I was not expecting that answer. I don't think I've ever felt such a validating thing from Christ in all my life, and I have felt many, especially lately. (The wonderful thing to realize is that we are all created with the ability to receive His love, care and attention directly from Jesus, as well as from our brothers and sisters in Christ.)

He creates us, as we are, with intent. And even when we suffer damage by being in this broken world, all that does is provide scope for even more depth of beauty and soul. That's what I believe, anyway. That's my experience.

Oh, how I love Jesus! I refuse to be without Him. I know He never leaves me nor forsakes me, so when I don't feel Him present, I reach out or inward- I can't explain it, I just reach for Him- with faith expressed in love, and Jesus is there.

Sometimes I just call His name, and Jesus is present. I get up in the morning, and call on Him. I remind myself of Jesus when I do the dishes and when I cook supper and when I vacuum and when I go grocery shopping.

I delight in Jesus, because He is delightful, because it is mind-blowing and astounding that He is the Son of God, and yet He loves me. The very Son of God loves me! He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, as the song goes.

It is the best story ever told, His story. I think Jesus' story, His person, must be the source of every kind of inspiration and human longing. And I can completely and utterly abandon myself to Him, in love and trust and worship.

It just thrills me to no end. I was made for a purpose, I was created with intent. And that purpose, that intent, was to delight the very heart of God. He made me for Him. Not because I was worthy or for any reason or action of mine, but because it pleased Him and was His kind intent, and for the praise of His glory.

November 9, 2011

There is this park that is very near our house. It's full of trimmed lawns and stately trees and little winding paths.

A stream runs through it and there is a vintage disc golf course laid out under the trees. No one ever plays that I can see, but the iron baskets, painted a pale green, are in good shape and stand invitingly along the gentle slopes.

There are lovely, long views of hillsides and autumn color, with glimpses of still water through the trees.

Here and there, built into the hillsides, are stone steps. Sometimes they lead to a shady spot with a picnic table and a stone grill.

Sometimes the steps don't go anywhere at all, they just are. They just rest there in the grassy slope, scattered over with leaves and moss grown, and above them is nothing but a copse of trees.

There's one place in particular, with a round, flat lawn, bordered by a very low stone wall. The curve of this wall divides the thick grass from the shallow waters of a marshy pond. The lawn rises up into a wooden hill and against the hill is a stone grill, under the thick shade of an oak tree.

I go walking in the park every day I can now. I like to go in the morning, when the light is still horizontal, making bright bands of sunlight and shade across the grass. The grass here is still green, almost as green as summer.

I don't walk alone. As soon as I shut the front door behind me, I feel Jesus come alongside and take my hand, and we walk along together.

Sometimes we say nothing. Sometimes I just lean my spirit right into Jesus, in love and worship. I guess that's like another way of saying, I lift my heart up to Him. Only it's not up, because He's right beside me. I feel His presence beside me as though He has His arm around my shoulders and I am leaning against Him.

And I just soak Jesus in, His presence and His love, and I think about Him. I think with joy and wonder, He is the Holy One of God! The Anointed! The King of glory!

And my soul is flooded with wonder that He is right beside me, and I belong to Him. I'm under His authority, and called by His name. Jesus claims me completely. This is the most delightful sensation and I abandon myself to the joy of it.

I keep thinking of this- I think it's a verse- He satisfies the longing soul. I suppose I'm thinking of it because I'm finding it to be so very true.

Ah ha! It is a verse. It's from a psalm, to be exact:

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
-Psalm 107:1-9

November 11, 2011

I'm glad my veteran is home with me this morning, researching ways to improve our computer and scribbling unintelligible things down on a note pad while listening to helpful instructional videos.

In the interests of research, I spent all yesterday afternoon reading through a lot of my very, very old diaries. In particular, I read the one that spanned my graduation trip to England, when I was eighteen, all the way to my divorce from Bill. My last entry is dated October 1998, so that was... thirteen years ago?

All those thirteen years and I never once re-read that thing. I couldn't, because the diary describes some of the worst years of my life. That diary was like a little time bomb, just quietly ticking away in my plastic storage bin.

But I guess by re-reading it at last, I defused it. I'm still processing everything that came up for me as I read it. The thing that stood out to me the most were the entries I wrote about Jesus. In fact, my jaw dropped on more than one occasion as I read through the diary.

I had no idea. I had forgotten it all- I blacked it right out. I made myself forget, because the transition from who I had been to who I was when I married my ex-husband was steep and horrific, a plummeting drop that shattered everything I thought I was. I couldn't explain it. It took me years to heal from it.

I was eighteen years old when I wrote this:

"Dear Jesus," I wrote, back in mid-September of 1996, "I read about You today and how the people followed You only because You gave them free meals. At least the crowd that followed You after You fed the 5,000. Then when You spoke of the important stuff- You being the Bread of Heaven, they grumbled and left You..."

Oh, that just makes me laugh out loud. Oh my goodness. What's hilarious is that, a month ago, when I was re-reading the Gospels for the first time in a long time, I had the exact same reaction to that scene.

Here's another one:
"Dear Jesus, I love You. You are close to me- You will never leave me. You will see to all my needs. You guide me along paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. You are faithful to keep me bound close to You. You have placed me like a seal over your heart, like a seal over Your arm. You are the author and finisher of my faith."

Whoa Nellie. That explains a lot, don't you think? That beautifully illuminates everything I've been experiencing lately.

When I finished that diary, I read a much older one. By the time I was sixteen, I was starting to develop a relationship with God that was based on longing and love.

How I did this is a complete mystery to me. Parts of the diary show up, alive and beautiful, in the tangle of religious thought and self-condemnation. Where on earth did they come from? How did I know that?

In April of 1994, when I was sixteen, I wrote this:

"So, at the same time as I discover this, I'm rejoicing in another kind of newness. It adds up to create a sense of wonder or a feeling like I'm a baby, just learning to walk, or like the disciple who walked on water. If he looked away from Jesus, he sank. I sink, but I look to Jesus every time the water reaches my ankles. Then I come to my senses and I'm borne back up, forgiven, loved and helped to keep going. All I have to do is look to Jesus and He takes care of it.

"I am created just to please God. In one way it's humbling, in another it's more exciting than I have yet imagined.

"Well, this spiritual high will go, but God will still love and care for me as He does right now, and my roots in Christ will be deeper."

Reading this stuff fills me with awe. It gave me the shivers. Isn't life mysterious? Isn't it beautiful? Our entire life, Jesus is drawing us to Him with cords of love, cords that can never be broken.

November 15, 2011 Perspective

This delving into my past certainly causes me some emotional and mental turbulence. I went looking back through my blog, because I really, really wanted to remember a certain point in time, and I found it. I wrote this, two springs ago:

"God and I have a long established relationship with boundaries that I have put up. Recently I started questioning those, as they are very old and maybe not functional or necessary anymore. Every time I thought about dropping the boundaries I felt compelled to find something to replace them, something that would make me acceptable for closer contact with God.

"I felt deeply conflicted and confused about such a step and now I understand why. My prior boundaries had to do with keeping God at a safe distance so that I could be myself. I felt that myself was not acceptable to God, though I've also long held a belief that God longs for authenticity from us. These beliefs are inherently conflicting: God wants me, as I am vs. I won't give up myself to God until I've become acceptable.

"But recently my increasing longing to be in constant, living relationship to Him kept pushing me against the question again and again, each time coming up against my conflicting beliefs.

"I've long held on to some old, crumbling beliefs, beliefs that condemn, that constrict and cripple. But I've held onto them because I was raised with them. They were like battle flags for an army that no longer existed, hadn't for a long time. I kept them, moth eaten and dusty, year after year after year. They were my security blankets, in case everything I had believed back then proved true.

"But lately I'm teaching myself to let go. It is frightening to let go and fall back into the arms of the eternal, the personal, the redemptive and victorious God. But Jesus has been following after me all this time. He really has, year after year, mistake after mistake, He's made His love and longing for me known.

"And each time I would open the door a crack and say, "I love you too, passionately, as the deer pants for the water, so my heart longs for You. I'm your girl, your broken, bruised and confused girl. But now I have to go back to living. I'll see You in the hereafter."

"And each time I would feel His mercy and understanding, His deep tenderness and patience with me. We had a wordless understanding. I've always known that Jesus can read the wordless, white hot pain buried deep in my soul, I've never had to explain with Him."

That is exactly how I went through all of my twenties and early thirties in regards to God. I wrote that two years and a summer ago, and it took me all that time before I could actually begin to live in the knowledge, and the only reason I can now is because Jesus came and took away the huge burden of shame and fear that I had carried around with me, like a massive, empty edifice, a crumbling iron monument. The Son of the Living God deconstructed it, piece by piece, in the acceptable year.

Yesterday I went to bed and read in the Bible that has the foot notes and corresponding verses in it. I like going through and looking them up. It's kind of like a treasure hunt; sometimes what I find makes sense to me and sometimes it does not.

I start in John. When I read in John now, I don't feel like Jesus is a stranger, or just a character in the story, or even the unobtainable Son of God who once was here and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, far, far above me, way out of my reach.

I feel like He is my Jesus now. It is like reading a story about someone that I know in person, someone that I dearly love and that means a great deal to me. I love reading about Him, but I love being near Him even more.

I remember reading it for the first time in a long time back in October and wanting to be near Jesus. Now I read it, and I know I am. Also, I can read almost all the way through the Bible without condemnation stopping me completely in my tracks.

This is a huge deal. I used to not be able to read the Bible at all. I can handle the Bible pretty freely now, and that is all due to Him. Jesus is my teacher.

If I don't understand something, I hand it over to Him. If something terrifies me, I hand it over to Him. Everything I have is in Jesus and the only reason I live is because of Him.

When I was reading in Ezekiel and being terrified and confused about the prophecies, Jesus told me that I don't have to understand it in order for it to be true, or to know what it is about in order for it to happen as it should. That's on Jesus; I'm just with Him, all bound up in Him. I'm with Him in faith, but He is the one that knows and brings it about. He and Our Father, anyway. Some things only the Father knows.