Friday, March 4, 2016


(This picks up immediately after the last blogs I had written on December 4th and 5th of 2011, concerning judgment by fire and the longing to be with Jesus in heaven.)

December 6, 2011

Wow, I had such a rough night last night! I've never written anything so personal or anything that made me feel so vulnerable as my last two blogs- especially yesterday's. But both, one day after the other! Phew!

I had to take two Tums to quiet the intense anxiety in my stomach. I knew it was going to be a bad night, but I also knew He wanted me to post the blog.

I lay in bed last night completely drained. It's one thing to work through the lessons themselves. But then to work through them again in writing, and then to put them out in public, that is hugely emotionally demanding.

Then I worried that people might think I wasn't grateful for my life or that I was depressed or something. I worried about that all night long.

I'm really not. I love my quiet life. I love my husband and my comfortable house and my writing. I have interesting things to think about and to write about.

It's just that, everything that makes life worth living is Jesus. He is the source of everything good- He is life and love itself. Knowing Him enriches life, while at the same time pulls my heart toward Him, like an irresistible gravitational pull. It's that I'll never be fully satisfied until I see His face. (This passage from 2 Corinthians 5 explains this longing much better than I could.)

I had to get up and call my dad. "I'm experiencing post-blog anxiety," I told him, and hearing his laughter was good therapy.

I talked to my mom. "I wrote about it all," I told her. "I put it all out there."

"Oh good, dear! It was so rich and precious. I'm sure it will help someone."

Talking to them really helped. So did the Tums.

Maybe now I can go back to blogging about cooking! That was great, that was fun times...


December 6, 2011 Private

Okay, so, I half expected Jesus to say, Well, My work here is done. All is well here- off I go. On to the next.

Instead, during the day, as I was walking with Him in the park and listening to Handel's Messiah, Jesus told me that I was one of those that preached the gospel of peace, and therefore my feet were beautiful- a thought which I at first completely and utterly rejected, and then had to reconsider.

(What happened was that, when Jesus told me this, immediately I pushed with my physical arm away, as though to push His voice and presence away, because it shocked me on so many levels- that He should mention my feet, for one thing, and that He should suggest that I was preaching.

(Immediately, I ceased to feel His presence, and began to wonder if maybe what He had said wasn't as shocking as it sounded at first- after all, Jesus washed the disciple's feet, and also, I was blogging about Him a lot.

(I sincerely asked Jesus' forgiveness for being ungracious and unbelieving, and I felt Him again right beside me, and Jesus reiterated what He had said, and I accepted what He had said and thanked Him for the compliment. Jesus put His arm around my shoulders and we walked on together. I am mentioning the perception and then lack of perception of His presence because Jesus would do this again sometimes as part of the lesson I was learning. However, Jesus never actually leaves us alone- He is always with us.)

It shames me to think about the many times when I push His grace aside in favor of my own self-judgment, but I would be lying if I said I responded otherwise, at least at first.

Then later, at night, Jesus told me the blog was good. Just like that. It is good.

I all but took hold of Jesus in my intensity. "Do You think so? Do You really think so? I'm afraid! I'm afraid I did a terrible job! What if I got something wrong about You! I'm sure I got something wrong about You! Oh no! I probably misquoted You! How dare I even try this! What if I have been blasphemous?"

I worry about this a lot actually. It's a horrifying prospect and the fear of this sometimes looms up. It's such a huge responsibility to talk about God. I'm never comfortable with it, and if He weren't asking me to, I never would dare.

It's good, Jesus assured me.

You'd think I'd be able to take His word on it, but as you can guess- no, not so much.

I was fine while Keith was awake, but after he fell asleep, the anxiety returned, full force. I tried handing the anxiety over to Jesus, but it just kept coming.

I lay there, completely miserable, and Jesus reminded me that it was only eight thirty at night, and my mother was probably still up, and I should go call her, because she would be understanding and encouraging.

I said, no... I don't want to bother her... It's probably too late...

It's not too late, it's early still, He repeated, invitingly.

I said, but if I get out of bed, then I'm admitting that I can't handle this anxiety on my own... and that would be failure. You'd be disappointed in me.

Call your mother. She is your support system, Jesus repeated.

After I had called my parents, I felt much, much better. I took some Tums and a glass of milk and went back to bed, where I realized with wonder that Jesus was lining things up to care for me. He had never expected me to be able to handle the anxiety on my own. It wasn't failure to admit I had it and to take practical steps to help. Jesus didn't want me to soldier through in tough denial, but to confess it to Him and to take the care He was offering.

Still, the anxiety kept burning and pooling in my stomach. "This hurts," I confessed to Him in a little voice- partly in surprise to realize that it did. Before, I would have assumed that people who had beautiful experiences with Jesus would be immune to suffering.

I'm with you in the suffering, Jesus replied, and I knew He was. I knew He felt it too, with and for me. This humbled me- my suffering is so small and embarrassing, compared to His- and filled me with wonder, because I got to suffer with Jesus, even if it was a tiny bit.

I don't know how I fell asleep, but I woke at three in the morning and the anxiety and its attendant upset stomach immediately returned. An hour or so later, Keith's alarm rang. After many kisses, I finally agreed to let him go to work, though he admitted I was making it very hard for him.

I still couldn't go back to sleep. I knew Jesus was encouraging me to simply get up, instead of suffering in the dark. I saw a picture of me sitting in front of the computer, a nice cup of coffee beside me, with the peppermint mocha creamer that I had purchased the other day.

So I threw the covers off and went to make that happen. I lit the Christmas tree and brewed coffee. As soon as I went on line, the first thing I saw was confirmation- something that lined up perfectly with the message of my blog.

I just sat there, bleary eyed from lack of sleep and filled with gratitude for the tender care of Jesus, who had clearly been working behind the scenes, and had wanted me to get up so I could benefit from it.

By that time, I could see the sky outside the window, so I went outside. I stood on the patio, bundled in my robe, and watched the dawn break over the sky. The sky was covered with fast moving, steel gray rain clouds. They swept over the sky in billows and by the time the sun rose, the sky was a clean, pellucid blue.

There were a hundred and one things online that ministered to me, all morning long- one person's status about how Jesus is looking for an awakened soul that thrills with joy at His presence, to articles about how we simply receive God's favor, not because we deserve it, but because we simply accept it. A close friend of mine wrote a beautiful blog about the childlike spirit and how we can just dive into our relationship with Jesus with the loving and joyful abandon of a child.

I was almost ashamed of myself. I didn't think my suffering required such an outpouring of encouragement from Jesus- His supply was well over and above my need.

I realized, once again, that I was part of such a large and beautiful picture of everyone that knew Jesus, who were speaking and praising Him in their own voice and in their own way, and we each minister to each other- most of the time in ways we don't even realize.

"I'm glad to be a part of that," I told Jesus later. "I like our story. I'm glad we have a story."

December 7, 2011 Taking Captive Thoughts

Now that I have shared such a huge piece of my heart, and lived to blog about it- heh!- I'm probably going to begin slowly to unload the back log of hoarded posts that I was too afraid to share. (I began this blog that way because I fully intended to post it, but I didn't after all.)

Writing about my relationship to God has interesting effects on me. It makes me long for more of Him, for one thing. And it makes me nervous that writing about it will make it not happen any more- as if Jesus were purely utilitarian and briskly wiped His hands and said, well, My job here is done; My love has been adequately illustrated here. Off I go. On to the next.

Actually, for weeks I wondered if and when Jesus (His perceptible presence) would leave me, and how I should respond if He did. I knew that naturally speaking, I would be sobbing and distraught and frozen in horror. But I wondered if maybe that wouldn't be right- maybe I should try and keep a stiff upper lip and all that.

So I asked Jesus about it. "Should I try and take it on the chin and soldier on, or should I sob and then run into the streets wildly, only to be beaten by the watchmen?" I asked.

That was one of those times when Jesus didn't answer, though I felt His tender amusement at my question. However, after that, when I read a psalm where David said something like "I'm going to simply die if You don't return Your presence to me," Jesus illuminated the thought for me.

"Ah!" I said. "I get it. Sobbing and frenzied searching it will be.”

Jenny, you may ask, do you really and truly talk to Jesus like that?

Not at first! But having Jesus around all the time leads to a certain kind of intimacy and confidence. There's no point in trying to be someone I'm not and it becomes exhausting to try and position my emotions "appropriately"- whatever that looks like. Eventually, the ability to pretend anything at all is gone. It's too obvious that there's no where to hide. I can't go for days on end being stiffly formal with someone, even Jesus, who is with me all the time. And Jesus has never once suggested that He didn't like my personality or my trust in Him- in fact, just the opposite.

However, if something about me or some thought that really bothers me comes up, I simply hand it over to Jesus. "This is Yours," I tell Him.

At first, I did that in silence, too ashamed even to speak to Him, so ashamed I could barely acknowledge His presence. Then, because I had to do it so many times, I lost the agony of it. Jesus never punished me. He never shamed me and He never left me. All I felt from Him was compassion.

"Something for You!" I eventually began to say, handing it over- whatever it was- some attitude or thought or action that didn't sit well with me and that I didn't want to continue to own.

One night, I'd gotten a compliment and it was a really nice one, but it made me uncomfortable. I didn't want to hold onto it, because I have a huge fear of becoming arrogant or prideful. I have earned nothing. I deserve nothing. Everything I have is in Jesus and comes from Him and comes to me because of His nature. I have learned to simply surrender to what He gives me.

So the compliment sort of threw me off. You can give it to Me to hold, Jesus suggested.

And, oh the joy that just flooded my soul! "Something good for You to take this time!" I cried, thrilled. "Wow, what a change! Here, a present for You!"

I used to think that taking captive thoughts required me to pin them down, and force them to be something different for Him. This meant that I was focused intensely on myself, on my thought, and filled with shame and despair. I would try to punish myself by labeling myself all kinds of horrible things, for thinking or feeling whatever it was, so that I would learn not to do it again.

But all I have to do is hand the thought over. I don't alter the thought for Christ, I hand it over as His captive.

December 7, 2011

Oh my goodness, I am having such a hard time today!

I stood in the kitchen, filled with self-judgment and impatience at myself. With sarcasm and deep frustration at myself, I said to Jesus, You should write Your instructions down in stone somewhere and hang it on the wall, so I can have it front of my face all the time! Otherwise, I'm never going to keep it in mind!

He touched my heart. Jesus said, I've written everything you need to know on your heart. You carry it around with you.

I melted; my body physically drooped from the relief. Oh my goodness, how can we explain His mercy or grace? We cannot.

I keep reaching out to Jesus, in exhaustion and frustration, expecting to feel judgment and impatience, and what do I feel instead? Compassion, overwhelming, personal and understanding compassion.

He says to me, many are the plans of men, but it's the Lord's will that prevails. He says, no matter what you feel or know or don't know, and no matter how many plans you see in front of you, My purpose will come shining through, because I am God.

His mercy and loving kindness, they last forever. Now I'm going to go and finish cleaning the house. I wish it wasn't raining. Maybe I'll go out in the rain anyway.

December 8, 2011 Private

Last night I was caught up in one of those moments when all my attention is on Jesus, as if His presence is surrounding me. 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 Jesus 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. I knew that part of why Jesus said that was because He loves me and partly to comfort me because I have to wait for the ending.

I had to lean against the wall and take a few deep breaths. That is usually how His presence affects me- I have to breathe deeply and slowly, and stand very still. Sometimes I have to put a hand or my head to the wall, to steady myself because my legs feel weak.

Sometimes I lift my hands in an otherwise empty room and close my eyes and stand on my tiptoes, because I simply 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 head. 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.

December 9, 2011

Jesus reminded me of a lesson He has been teaching me lately- that He doesn't actually require our help. If He was hungry, He would not tell us. His arm is not shortened in anyway, that He cannot save.

He is God; we are not. All the power and ability and plans and purpose belong to and with Him; His resources are infinite. What He does, it seems, is that He invites us to work alongside Him. He is always inviting us to do this.

Jesus is like a master gardener at work in a huge and beautiful garden. He knows exactly what He is doing. The seasons, the weather, the growing patterns, the feeding, pruning and care of everything belong in His expert hands.

We can come alongside Him and help, right where we are in our lives, right where He planted us. Granted, we help like small children, that is to say, our help is not necessarily assistance, so much as it is company.

Jesus loves to have us around, happily digging in the dirt with our small trowels, getting dirt on our hands and walking beside Him, talking and learning and watching. Like children, we get really excited about some things and terribly disappointed about other things. Our mistakes seem crushing to us, our victories seem momentous.

Jesus, like any loving parent, shares in these griefs and joys. He kneels down beside us, puts His arm around our shoulders and empathizes. He listens and then He teaches, and on we go, together, to the next thing, our hand in His.

Our helping Jesus, I'm learning, is how we learn to grow. Jesus Himself is primarily the One responsible for the care of others. He invites us to come alongside Him, not just to help others, but because when we participate in His loving work, it helps us grow deeper in Him.

What Jesus does with our efforts, we may never know in this lifetime. We don't get to see the big picture here.

But I'm sure it's a beautiful one.