Friday, April 1, 2016

To Run the Race

December 14, 2011 To Run the Race

As I continue to write about my really unconventional experiences of God, I find that I am slowly and painfully moving away from having an experience to owning an identity.

No longer am I that girl that had that experience with God- which is cool and powerful, if it happens once. Now, I am beginning to be that girl that God talks to, which is something different- just a little too weird, too much. I struggle with this perception.

It frustrates me. I labor under the reproach of being too much and too out of the box, and then I feel frustrated. Why should it be weird when God meets us in powerful, present, real ways? Why should that be strange? But when He takes us seriously, it's unsettling.

At that point, the response is- "What? What? You actually did hear that? You were listening? Oh goodness."

I guess when a person writes "I wanted to run into His arms, crying I'm Yours, I'm Yours, I see You," Jesus pays attention.

Apparently, that sort of thing does not escape His notice.

I have to write about something I experienced last night, before I begin to forget parts of it. (What I am sharing here is a combined version of the first time I recorded this, and the second, which was richer with insight, as I had had more time to try and understand what had happened.) I had one of those very uncommon and mysterious experiences that can't be explained rationally, and about which I have absolutely no intention of blogging. In fact, I'm probably not going to publish this. (I didn’t.)

I was struggling with this incredibly intense longing for Jesus. I wanted to go home; more specifically, I wanted to be near Jesus, all the time, with none of this frustrating through-a-mirror-darkly bit that we suffer through down here.

This longing kept welling up, especially at night. I was crippled with this longing. It was as though the longing had me by the marrow of my bones, deeper than words. It was not merely emotionally, I felt the intensity of this longing as a physical pain. It caused me to curl up on the bed.

Inwardly I cried out, "Jesus! Jesus!" twice, in desperation, and then the longing ebbed.

But not for long. A moment later it was back, and worse. I wasn't able even to think; I gave myself over to the longing completely and without thought, just with sheer, desperate instinct, in my spirit, I called out, "Father! Father!" Even as I heard myself cry this out, a tingling feeling of holy awe swept over my body, like goose bumps.

And then it was as though the space around me expanded, but without anything actually changing. I had my cheek against the sheet and my eyes were open. I was looking at the blinds on the French doors, but I wasn’t really looking at them, because the Holy Spirit was flowing through me like a surge of Living Water and this compelled my attention, soothed my longing, and caused me hardly to be conscious of anything else.

At a great distance I saw a Throne and beside the Father was His Son, standing. Around and behind Them were many other hazy figures. I saw this, and I saw the blinds and the French doors at the same time, and my cheek never left the pillowcase. (This was not a trance, because I could move my body.)

I didn't focus on the Throne, nor was I shocked to see it, because of the Holy Spirit that was moving through my entire being in a nonstop flow of pure and living water. I knew, without being told, that this stream of Holy Spirit was flowing from the Father and Son to me, and back to Them. I was caught up in a loop of life and Holy Spirit. It was as though I were breathing for the first time, but as if my whole self were breathing, endlessly breathing Living Water.

I was not afraid. This is because I was known and loved. I was known and recognized by God, and there was no shame or fear in this. I felt the love of the Father for me, His daughter. This love and compassion and kind and intimate recognition dominated the entire experience.

When I heard God speak to my spirit, I could hear the Father's voice and Jesus' voice speaking at the same time and in perfect harmony of intent, feeling and meaning. Later on, I wondered about this, but at the time, it seemed perfectly natural.

When They spoke, Their voice was full of tender mercies and loving kindness and just loving goodwill.

They asked, Do you truly wish to come home early?

In order to go home, I thought I had to physically die, since I thought it not possible that I could be translated like Enoch, because it seemed impossible to me that I could be as close to God as he had been. I grew aware that I was afraid of the physical process of dying and then I was ashamed of my fear. I was afraid Abba and Jesus would be insulted that I was mistrusting Them.

But the shame did not come from Them at all; it came entirely from myself. Abba and Jesus did not condemn. I felt nothing from the Father and Jesus but unwavering tender love and an intimate recognition of me, exactly who I was, as Their daughter.

Also at Their question, I grew very aware of Keith behind me, asleep. I knew, in that moment, that there was no way I could go home early, though I longed to. I could never do that to him.

"I can't," I said to Them. "I can't do that to Keith."

I thought that would be the end of the interview, as it were. However, the Father was not done. What He said next, He and Jesus said with absolute assurance and love.

We have Keith, They said. We carry and sustain Keith. Knowing that We have Keith securely in Our care, would you like to come home early?

My awareness grew deeper as I considered this. It grew deeper in such a natural way that I didn't even notice it, until later.

As I considered the offer, it was as though I turned around, even though I still lay with my cheek against the sheet. When I turned around, it was as though I saw my own life behind me and below me.

My own life was like a glowing white line. As I looked at it, I felt an unexpected fondness for my mortal life. I knew that my mortal life did not define me and was not my source. I had been born from above, born of God and the Source and my Life were in my Father.

My mortal life was a gift to me, tailored individually and specifically for me. I knew that if I left early, the Father would most certainly find other people to do the tasks that otherwise I would have done, and that they would not mind doing this. I don’t know how I knew this, I just did.

I knew that the Father's resources were infinite and His purposes absolute. This knowledge was not a scary thing, it was as natural as breathing. Here and now, there is trouble understanding the sovereignty of God and free will, but at the time, I had no trouble at all. Abba was sovereign and His will would be done, and yet I was free to choose. I have no idea how both of these things could be true at the same time, but in that moment, there was no conflict, just the perfect peace of knowing that everything was firmly in Abba’s hands, and I knew that Abba was good, and all His plans good. It was the bedrock of existence; it was the foundation of every other thought.

In that moment, I felt a desire to complete my own work, the work Abba had tailored for me and fit me to do. I didn't want anyone else to have to do the work that was mine to do, because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone else and besides, I was drawn to the life and the work Abba had given me.

I had, in that moment, no doubt that if I went back, I would finish the work. I knew I would. I just took it for granted. I knew everything that I was meant to do would happen in its own time and according to the purpose of my Father.

It didn't even occur to me to ask what my work was! I had no idea what it was. Knowing or not knowing didn't matter. I just knew that it was mine like a gift of love, and that I would finish it, if I chose to return.

Lastly, I knew that my human life lasted such a short, short time. It was but a moment. It would pass by so quickly and then I could go home to the Father and would always be home. That decided it. My mortal life was a gift, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, I would be home forever.

"I'll finish it," I said to the Father, slowly. "I want to finish my work."

And then I was aware that Jesus was right beside me, kneeling beside the edge of the bed. I was in shock but I didn’t realize it. I thought I was fine, but I was numb. Jesus held my face in His hands and put His forehead against mine. Jesus was full of tender concern and love and empathy. It was as though He had felt everything with me. It was as though Jesus knew exactly how I was feeling.

At first I was wondering why Jesus had so much concern. I thought about assuring Him that I was fine, I was just fine, and then the shock began to wear off and I realized a bit more what had just happened.

I said to Jesus, “Please teach me to live grateful for my life. I am grateful, but teach me to live this out, each day at a time. Please don't take the longing away from me- please don't close my heart to it- I love to feel the longing. I don't even want to feel satisfied without You; just teach me to walk balanced between a gratitude for life and a longing for the real Life.”

I kept waking in the night and feeling Jesus’ strong and loving presence near me and with me. When I woke in the morning, and remembered, I felt His close presence still. I rested in the comfort and love and belonging for a moment or two.

I thought about the day ahead of me and the whole long succession of days that now lay before me. It didn’t seem like a moment anymore, it seemed to be unfolding out into years and years, a long stretch ahead. I knew Jesus would be walking right alongside of me through each one, and that I only needed to worry about and concern myself with one day at a time, not the entire length.

I don't worry so much anymore about losing Him- about losing Jesus. He won't leave me. I will have Him for the rest of my life. He won't take Himself away from me. I'm beginning to rest more and more in that.

I said to Jesus, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it,” and then I smiled, because of how it reminded me of each previous day and how each one is different and challenging and yet each one ends in the peace and quiet, when I can rest in Jesus’ presence.

When I got up, I stood as I usually do at the French doors and looked out at the early morning dawn. And as usual, I felt Jesus standing beside me, His arm around me, holding me close as we looked at the new day. It was bright and clear and cold, and a pale gold was shining along the line of hills.

I looked at the pale sky with wonder, as it darkened toward the western horizon, high above the black lace of the bare trees. I thought of how Jesus fills the whole world and runs it and holds it together.

Later, after I was returning from some task in the bedroom, I saw the Christmas tree all lit up and blazing white and gold against the morning sunlight that streamed around it and fell upon the wall beside it in a bright band.

The beauty of it struck my soul and I leaned back into the love of Jesus, who was near me and all around me and I leaned back into the moment itself.

Later, I got caught up in this horrible mess of anxiety over my blog and facebook, as per usual. It burned. But He led me out of that, one step at a time. Jesus always provides a way out, like stepping stones of care and comfort and strength. I step from one to the next to the next and voila- I am on the other side.

But I am always vulnerable. My heart is wide open now and I don't wish it to close, not one wee bit. So I am always going to be living in some level of discomfort. I think this must be partly what it means to be living fully alive- to be living life "awake."

Last night- I honestly don't remember at what point, before or after my choice- it struck me as something completely amazing that I could long so deeply for Jesus, and yet I have never seen Him. I have no idea what He looks like. I've never met Him in person.

How can I say that I know Him, when I've never even seen His face? The oddness of it struck me. I remembered Christ saying to Thomas- Do you believe now that you've seen? Blessed are those that, having never seen, believe.

Thank goodness He said that! That's one firm rope to hold on to, in all the longing.

December 15, 2011 Identity in Christ

Last night I had read a fair amount of Isaiah and some of the psalms. There is one verse in that passage of Isaiah that reads, "I, even I, am He who comforts you."

I'm getting better at saying, "Yes, Lord" and not "No way! I can't accept that! That can't be true!"

So when I read that, despite it being so huge and so astonishing- astonishing beyond my ability to understand, I said humbly, "Yes, I accept." This kind of response pleases Jesus very much, I can't help but notice.

In my reading last night, I came across a verse that read, “I will blot out your iniquities for My own sake.” That thrilled me to no end. I had to stop reading so I could talk to Him.

"For Your own sake!" I said to Him, gleeful. "Why should this thrill me so much? I'll tell You why! Because there is no higher reason! Nothing trumps that reason- Your own name’s sake! When You do something for Your own name’s sake, it’s a done deal, because it rest on You!"

It just struck me, in this new way that because God is love, when He does something for His own sake, He does it for the sake of redeeming, all-conquering love. We are all caught up in His purposes, which are full of redeeming love.

Then I remembered that I was directly addressing God about Himself. I got nervous, all of a sudden. I shrunk back into myself. I lost my sense of joy and my vision of the love of God. "I don't know why You bother with us,” I said, meekly, remembering another verse. “Who am I to You? We are all like grass."

As I spoke those words, I felt the warm and familiar presence of Jesus. He came and sat down beside me on the bed and then leaned in toward me, comfortingly, His arm around my shoulders.

Who are you to Me? He prompted me, lovingly. I felt His prompt in my heart.

Jesus has already taught me this lesson so many times that I knew in a moment what the answer was, and joy flooded through me.

"I'm Your daughter!" I exclaimed, joyfully. "Your very daughter!"

I felt His loving joy answer mine, then He said into my heart, lovingly- Nothing in My creation is inconsequential to Me. Everything in My creation matters to Me.

I marveled over this; that God delights in every single part of His creation, that everything He made has beauty and value to Him, even things that are never seen by anyone else. I thought how, even when it was nothing but darkness and void, His Spirit was still over it.

Then, I began to contemplate, again, who I was to Jesus. I began to list those things, one by one. As I did this, I felt as though I were lying back in His arms. This was a familiar sensation to me by then. I no longer tried to reject it or come to terms with it. I just accepted it. I felt comfortable and at ease. I was delighting just in the joy of being in the arms of God.

"I am the work of Your hands, and the product of Your own thought," I said to Him, knowing that He was deeply interested, even caught up in what I was saying. "I am Your own creation- I'm Your creature!" I declared, and waited.

As I expected, I felt Jesus check me right there. Not so, He said.

I relented. "I’m not Your creature, I'm Your daughter!"

Just so, He said. Go on, He said in my heart, encouragingly.

I knew what Jesus wanted me to claim, but I became shy just at the thought of it. I side tracked. I said, "I'm Your portion, Your purchase to Yourself, Your prize. I'm redeemed to You...I’m the apple of Your eye and Your reward."

Go on, He prompted again, full of love.

I was caught up in a feeling of intensely joyful shyness. "No!" I cried. "I can't!"

Jesus waited. I knew He waited. He was waiting with patient, personal love and anticipation. I knew Jesus would wait endlessly, if necessary. His patience and His anticipation seemed to have no end.

The knowledge of who I am to Him increased in joy as I considered it, until with joy, I had to confess. It was almost His patience itself that made it impossible for me to continue silent; it was too delightful, in the end, to reward it.

"I'm Your bride!" I declared, at last, feeling the wonder of it pour through me like light. "I’m Your betrothed- Your sister, Your spouse. I’m Your dove in the clefts of the rock. I'm Your precious one, hidden under the shadow of Your wings."

Your Maker is your Husband, He agreed firmly, bringing to my mind that verse.

I remembered that verse very well- I had read it a few days ago. It was another one of those verses where I had to stop, and despite my feelings, push the message away. It was almost as if, because I wanted it so badly, I denied myself.

“That’s not for me,” I told myself sternly. “That’s nothing personal. That prophesy has to do with something else."

When I had put the Bible down, too tired to read, Jesus kept bringing the verse back to my mind, over and over again. I gave up trying to avoid the reality.

I cried out, "Yes! Yes, yes, yes! That is who You are to me. I accept. So be it."

I stopped trying to hide my longing and hunger for this; I poured it all out to Him. And Jesus opened His heart to me so that I could know His own longing. So, when Jesus brought that verse back to mind, it already had a great deal of personal history behind it.

Listing off all the things I was to Jesus was so satisfying that I did it a second time, just for the pleasure of it.


“Sing, O barren,You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
For the Lord has called you
Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
Says your God.
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
 “O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
Your gates of crystal,
And all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.
Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.
“Behold, I have created the blacksmith
Who blows the coals in the fire,
Who brings forth an instrument for his work;
And I have created the spoiler to destroy.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.
-Isaiah 54, NKJV