Friday, January 29, 2016


Written on November 20, 2011 Passion for Christ

I was reading someone's blog and they were talking about how he's noticed that people who are passionate in Christ are sometimes led astray by their passion.

I won't lie; that really threw me off. I spent most of the morning feeling terrified of being led astray by my passion for Jesus. I wasn't quite sure in what way I would be led astray, but the very possibility was terrifying.

I kept starting these frightened, half articulated prayers and then not finishing them. I kept reaching out in my spirit, finding Jesus there, and imploring Him, again, in a half garbled prayer, to reassure me and then suddenly pulling away and blocking Jesus out, both out of fear of what He might say, or fear that He might not say anything at all.

This is one of the risks inherent in talking to God, by the way- the risk that He might, for His own mysterious and sovereign reasons, leave one to wrestle in silence, or in the tumult of one's thoughts.

This happens a lot, but it's a risk I usually don't mind taking. I know Jesus is faithful- it doesn't matter if He speaks or not. When Jesus does, the sheer wonder of it, combined with the grace of His message usually results in my standing or sitting stock still, shocked.

If Jesus doesn't speak, I still know He's in control and I wait it out, trusting in Him.

Where are the guarantees? I cried to Jesus inwardly. How can I know? How can I be sure? What should I do? How should I settle down and be sedate in my walk? What should I do with my passion, so that it doesn't lead me astray? Where's the doctrine? Whose doctrine? Where, what and how!

I was like a headless chicken. I don't like admitting that I can be this silly, but there it is- it's true. I can be. It's just that I take everything so seriously, because it's serious stuff. This is not a theory to me; I'm living in it.

Finally it was as though Jesus put His hands on either side of my face and held my attention firmly. (This happened on the road while Keith was driving us to Walmart, by the way. I think I must have worn myself out and was quiet for a moment so that Jesus could actually get a word in edgewise.)

Look, little one, Jesus said, haven't you already been wrong?

Yes, yes, I have, I admitted, remembering just how very wrong.

And did those failures ultimately destroy your faith or impair My ability to reach you, speak to you or teach you?

No. No, actually, it didn't, I remembered, because look at where I am now!

Was that because you suddenly understood everything, knew every answer, and knew exactly how to live?

Come to think of it, that wasn't how that happened, I admitted, in wonder.

Didn't that happen because of Me, because I'm faithful and true to My word?

Yes, yes, it did happen like that, come to think of it.

So, what are you afraid of, exactly? Jesus asked me, patiently, connecting all these ideas into one growing concept. Do you think there is anything in the future that could turn Me aside from you? If I've been faithful to keep you so far, won't I continue to be faithful to keep you?

Then wonder filled my soul, because Jesus rescued me again. He came down into my confusion and spoke peace to me.

Then I remembered that lots of people in the Bible were passionate about Jesus and frequently they did go astray.

Like Peter, for example. Peter is a perfect example of someone passionate about Christ who is very frequently getting off on the wrong track.

But Jesus never told Peter to stop being passionate, to stop caring so much. He just showed Peter where to direct that passion. In fact, come to think of it, Jesus asked poor Peter three times if Peter loved Him, before telling Peter to feed His lambs.

And David! Talk about passionate. There may be some, but at the moment, I can't bring to mind any psalms where David said that he would calmly, sedately and moderately praise God. I think he used phrases like, my bones are melting for want of You.

And the funny thing is, when I went astray, it wasn't out of a passionate, grace filled experience. I went from legalism to sin, and from sin to grace and from grace to passion.

November 21, 2011

A couple days ago, I read an awesome blog that had this quote in it:

"In my deepest wound I saw Your glory and it dazzled me." St. Augustine, Confessions.

It starting me thinking about my wounds. Specifically, I've been thinking about my first marriage. It's not my deepest wound, but I have less understanding and acceptance of this wound than I have of my sexual abuse or infertility.

For years I have been conflicted about it- torn between a lingering resentment at God for not keeping me safe like I thought He promised He would do, and a hatred of myself- for my weakness, for my stupid choices, for my selfishness and for my naiveté.

Yesterday, I was thinking about it again, and an unlikely thought hit me. Because of that marriage, in one swift blow, I lost all my cherished guide marks, all the religious routes I had leaned on and all the easy answers. I was left desperate for God in truth, in reality, in the ruins of everything that I had thought made me valuable to Him.

I had to come to Jesus with nothing to offer Him but my sinful, unreliable self.

I had to come to Jesus without any answers, with my doctrine in tatters, desperate for His truth.

I had to come to Jesus alone, and from sheer longing- longing so great that it broke through the walls of my shame and fear. I came to Jesus not to impress anyone else or to get their approval- because I long ago lost all hope of that, and not to acquire Jesus' blessings or to ask Him for anything- because I knew I deserved nothing, but simply because I could not live without Him.

And I found Jesus.

So, last night, for the first time in my life, I let go of my expectations of what I felt Jesus should have done. I opened my hands and forgave myself for my mistakes and gave myself grace for the first time regarding the horrendousness of that experience.

I pushed all the past away and instead thanked Jesus for what was true now- that through the experience, I was thrown on a path that would lead me straight into His arms and into a relationship with Him that was based on authenticity, desperate need and without formula.

From this point of view, my marriage and divorce was, in fact, one of the best things that ever happened to me. That's an example of what happens when God's redemptive powers hit our failures. He doesn't just forgive us- He transforms the entire experience.

November 21, 2011 Longing

So, last night I was suffused with sheer longing, unbearable longing, wordless longing. It crippled my soul. I had no words for this longing- I just poured it out to Jesus. I don't know what it is I want, but the intensity of this aching hunger makes me think of this passage:

"So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.

"And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God's will."
-Romans 8:26-27

I want to shake off this life like clay and rise straight up to Jesus. But it's not because life isn't good. Life is good. I keep feeling like I'm being ungrateful.

He's given me so much in this life. I have a wonderful husband, for one thing, who provides for me, loves me and trusts my help. In and through Christ, I minister to my husband. I have every comfort and my health and a reasonable intelligence and interesting things to consider and interesting things to write.

Also, I just like being alive. I love the sunlight, the changing beauty of nature, the sounds of music and of silence, the taste of good, fatty food and creamy coffee. I like life. I'm not depressed, or anything.

But still, I want to shake it all off and just go to Jesus already. My goodness. Even if I can't shake it all off, I want more and more and more of Him.

No matter how much of Jesus I get, I want more. I want to know Jesus better, to see Him more clearly, to see more clearly His beautiful relationship to His Father. I want to be closer to Jesus, wrapped up in Him, hidden deep within Him, defined by Him and kept by Him.

I know I already am all those things. Maybe I just want to feel it more consciously.

But how can I ask that? My goodness! I already feel it. I'm already conscious of His presence and of His love. Jesus talks to me, for goodness sake. What more do I want from Him? Why can't I just be satisfied?

But I can't help it! My hunger keeps welling up. Every time I think of His meekness, His humility and obedience, together with His power and His glory and His place within and beside His Father- it just slays me. I feel like keeling right over onto the floor, to melt down in pure worshipful love of the peerless beauty of His nature.

I keep thinking, He is called Faithful and True! He is trustworthy, loyal, incorruptible, and steady. And because Jesus was all that, I live!

I keep talking to Jesus about this. It's all I can do. I keep offering up everything, the whole thing. It must be that He's giving me this hunger for Him. If He's giving me this hunger, He will satisfy it.

In the meantime, I live in each day with Him, moment by moment. I wake and I say, this is the day that the Lord has made, I will be glad in it. I think ahead, I know that He has planned out the whole day and that I can't know what is ahead of me in the day, but that I must yield into Him and step into the unknown.

So I say, let us go forth, into the day! Here I am. I will enter the day with You. During the day, I get caught up in condemnation and navel gazing an awful lot. It causes my body to become crippled and stiff, as I stand there, caught in it, trapped.

Then Jesus touches me and I am released. Released! The joy of it. I feel His hand under my chin a lot, as He tips my face up to Him and my fear melts away in His love. All day long I feel this. I feel His hand caress my cheek and then tip my head up. He is saying, Look to Me, look to Me.

At the end of the day, I'm so relieved. I think, we made it! Here we are, together. What a day! And I hand it all over to Jesus- what I thought I did well, what I thought I failed in, what I thought I left unfinished, what I thought might do Him some honor, any of it, all of it- I hand it over to Him.

And slowly, I become un-cramped and loosened from the wounds of the day, as I release it to Him. Then I am left worshiping Jesus and talking to Him and resting in Him.

And then I sleep and then I wake and it begins again.

November 21, 2011 Come and See

I was just rereading John and boom. I got struck by something, which I'm sure I must have read about long ago and is perfectly obvious, but only just now realized, all over again.

Jesus's first miracle- what did He do?

He took the huge pots of water that the Jews used for ritual purification and He turned the water in them to wine. He took water and outward cleansing and turned it to wine, which is blood, which is inward life and love:

He did this at a marriage. Coincidence? I think not.

You know what else is interesting? The first thing that the gospel of John records Jesus saying.

Two disciples of John starts to follow Him. Jesus turns and says, What do you seek?

It turns out the two disciples wanted to know where Jesus was staying.

Another words, where are You, God? Where can I find You?

Jesus replied "Come and see."

It makes me think of this:

"Tell me, O you whom I love,
Where you feed your flock,
Where you make it rest at noon.
For why should I be as one who veils herself
By the flocks of your companions?"

"If you do not know, O fairest among women,
Follow in the footsteps of the flock,
And feed your little goats
Beside the shepherds' tents."
-Song of Solomon 1:7-8

Another words, come and see.