Friday, June 10, 2016

Ride Forth

January 1, 2012 Ride Forth

Last night, I lazily read my way around the Bible.

I started, randomly, in Proverbs and then flipped to Revelation, where I got scared to death.

I read this:

"Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."

At first, I felt like cheering for joy- Jesus Himself will express the wrath of His Father! How marvelous! How fitting! And then I got terror stricken and withdrew myself from Him.

Aren't we friends? Jesus asked me tenderly. I felt His presence as though He were bending over me, His hand on my shoulder. Don’t I love you, and you Me?

"Yes!" I wanted to cry... "But no," I finished, miserably. "I can't be... not with that You, with eyes of fire and a robe dipped in blood and a secret name. That You doesn't want me! How could You? I'm miserably unworthy."

It was as though that vision of Jesus meant He was furious, implacable and unapproachable, and that this was the real Jesus all along, and the rest of the time in the Gospels, when Jesus was full of forgiveness and grace, meek and humble, was just not really a permanent part of His character.

Jesus said: I'm always the same Jesus, and there is a harmony of meaning in the Bible.

Then Jesus reminded me of one of my favorite Psalms, ever:

"You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."
-Psalm 45:2-7

Only Jesus would ride forth because of truth, righteousness and humility. Only the humble Son of God, who waited like a disciple for the voice of His Father and finishes all His work, would ride forth in that way.

And His speech is full of grace, and He is anointed not just with the Spirit of God without limit, but also with gladness- with joy.

He is joyful, humble, and loving, and His Father has exulted His name above all names- it is that Jesus who treads His Father's wine press, with eyes of fire.

"They shall see His face..." echoed in my head, over and over again, the ringing of great bells, heard from far away.

But my soul was still vibrating with fear, so Jesus suggested I read some of John.

"Where in John?" I asked, feeling comforted already.

The Good Shepherd passage, He said.

"Isn't that chapter 10?" I asked, flipping through.

It was.

So I flipped over to John and read chapter 10, reassured by the lovely litany of Jesus saying, "I..."

Soothed, I fell asleep. I was peacefully lost in dreams of Jesus- thinking about grace and salvation and living waters when I got woken up in time for New Year's Eve.

Today, I woke up exhausted and completely drained. Whenever I feel this way, my first and very strong instinct is to hide myself from Jesus, both because I feel unworthy and also because I want to indulge in my bad mood and fly freely off the handle, however I want to.

So, when I opened the French doors and saw the cloudy sky, and felt Jesus there with me still, I felt almost a sense of resignation, as well as a desperate sense of relief. As I was making breakfast, I felt Jesus put His arms around me, His face against mine.

I stood stock still and took in a long, deep breath. I felt my spirit expand into peace. I keep forgetting that it is at these times that I need His love the most.

"I don't know what to do," I told Jesus, in exhaustion. "I have nothing left to get me through."

He reminded me that I only must do this thing one day at a time, and that eventually, all this about myself that frustrated me, that falls disappointingly short of everything that I want to be for Him, all this chaff will fall off me, and also, one day, I will be free of this earthly perspective and will see everything from its true perspective.

I tried to watch TV, but my attention span for such things is almost zero now. I can't stick with it, most of it seems garish, awful and unnecessary.

I switched to Netflix and tried watching this documentary that I had really, really enjoyed watching only a couple months ago and I couldn't stomach it. It was depressing and awful to me.

I ended up watching a documentary called Sweetgrass, about sheep ranchers up in Montana. It was just my speed- no narration, just long, still shots and no background music, only the actual sounds. It had a strong impact.

I went outside, with my book, and sat by the pool. My spirit eased into sun and the fresh air and the sight of the bare branches against the pale sky. I felt again the presence of Jesus.

I know He is always there, and I am realizing more and more that it is I myself that shut down the fellowship with Him. I am learning also that I can seek Him out in the silence.

Eventually, I went inside.

"Thank you," I said to Him. "This was so nice."

I’m going inside with you, Jesus reminded me, with loving humor.

"Thank you," I replied, fervently, for the reminder that He is always with me.

January 2, 2012 His Glory

No matter how much of Jesus I have, I always end up wanting more. I have, for the most part, given up wondering why this is. It just is. I no longer question this longing, I just abandon myself to it.

Yesterday, after my exhausted day, I landed in bed, drained and miserable. I knew where I wanted to read- the last half of the psalms- the psalms of ascents, which are beautiful. I've been reading those a great deal, lately.

I read this:

"I cry out to the Lord with my voice;
With my voice I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him all my trouble."
-Psalm 142:1-2

Reading this gave me the courage I needed to do the same. I poured out my heart before Him. I cried out to Jesus. I cried out His name, again and again.

I begged Jesus to be with me ever more closely, and to be able to hear His voice even more clearly. I told Him over and over again that I had no good thing apart from Him and that He was my God. I wanted nothing but Jesus, I wanted Him in everything.

"I can't do this life without You!" I complained to Jesus. "There's no point in being alive without You. I must have You. You are everything to me- my very breath, my being and all that is good. If I must be in this life, then I must have You."

I told Jesus that I wanted to go deeper into Him, to fall even further into my God and into knowledge of Him- for knowledge of the Father and of Jesus His Christ is, I reminded Him, life everlasting -is Life itself- and He Himself said so.

You want to see Me, Jesus said. It was not a question; He was clarifying my desire for me. As I had been speaking to Him and as He said this, it was as though Jesus were standing in the doorway.

The words just poured out of me; I pounded the bedspread- "Yes, yes, yes! I want to see You! To actually see You! But also to see You in everything around me, to see You in Your creation and in the people around me and in the Bible and in my life. I want to know You better, I want You!"

When I had poured out everything there was within me, I lay back on the pillows, drained but at peace. I felt the loving presence of Jesus come swiftly close to me- as though I were in His arms. He held my face in His hands. He picked up my hand in His.

You are My glory, Jesus said.

I recoiled in shock and dismay. "Why do You persist in saying that stuff to me?" I cried. "You know it can't be true! Why do You do that to me? How can I trust You when You keep saying really shocking things to me?"

He brought to my mind three different passages. The first was this:

"All [things that are] Mine are Yours, and all [things that are] Yours belong to Me; and I am glorified in (through) them. [They have done Me honor; in them My glory is achieved.]"

-John 17:10, Amplified Bible

The second was this:

"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
-Ephesians 1:11-14, NKJV

The last one was this:

"You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the LORD,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God."
-Isaiah 62:3

I sat back against my pillows, stunned.

"Why do You tell me these things?" I asked Him, weakly. "Aren't You afraid I'm going to get a big head and become spiritually arrogant? I might end up walking around saying to myself, all day long, "Ha! I am a part of the glory of God!"

I do want you to walk around remembering that, He said, smiling. I never want you to forget it. And as far as your character, that is My work. I perfect you.

(I want to add something here, because usually when Jesus speaks, I receive both the words He is saying, and a deeper meaning around them as well-  the larger context in which they are to be understood.

(We are supposed to always remember this! It's our new identity, it's who we are, it forms our mission, it frames our understanding of who we are and what we do.

(We can't keep our eyes anxiously on the making of our own personal perfection, because we won't know where we are going, because we are always going to be looking at ourselves, and we will end up walking into shame and failure, or success and pride, and neither of those reflect Jesus.

(But as we look toward Jesus and grow in understanding of Him, we begin to grow in His likeness over time, through the inward working of the Holy Spirit. This involves suffering, sometimes a great deal of suffering and most certainly will involve a painful growth of humility, and will require tenacity, but that tenacity is simply that of getting up again and taking His hand and looking at Jesus again.

(Any motivation less than love won't make it all the way through. Fortunately, we move progressively through this process, Jesus reveals more and more of His heart to us, causing our love for Him to grow and increase, and we begin to prize Him increasingly.)

January 2nd Quote

When I was seventeen, I drew a sketch of myself sitting in a wing chair in my room. In the sketch, I am holding a book in one hand, but it has fallen to the arm of the chair, forgotten. My head is turned to look out the window and there is a look of dawning wonder on my face.

Leaning over the chair is a messenger. He has a long feather in his cap. He is bending forward and whispering into my ear.

Across the top and bottom of the page, I wrote some lines from the 45th Psalm:

"Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;
Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;
So the King will greatly desire your beauty..."

I drew that less than a year after I had written "I was created just to please God," in my blog. In that diary entry, I copied a quote that had captured my attention, that I had found in a footnote in C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength:

"To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve... As obedience is the stairway to pleasure..."

January 3, 2012

I feel conflicted about my blog.

After about three months of talking persistently and outrageously about Jesus, I have about five readers left. I wish I could say that I was deeply spiritual and above it all and that this doesn't touch me, but I can't lie. I feel sad about this.

I wonder, should I have talked about Him less? Should I have hidden the way in which I know Him? If I go on talking about Jesus in the way I do, will I end up merely talking to myself, in a big empty space?

This whole walking by faith thing can be very unsatisfactory at times. How's that for an understatement?

I woke up this morning to a quiet house. I drank it in. I wandered around in a sort of happy bliss, taking in the stillness, the silence, the calm blue light of dawn. The windows drew me on every side, with their vistas of a light filled landscape, pale blues and ambers and silver tipped grasses lit up like torches by the rising sun.

I woke up hungry for Jesus. My hunger for Him never ebbs. Almost, I have resigned myself to this fact. Sometimes still I wonder why this is- why I am never satisfied, why I always want more, and deeper and more present.

Then I realize that the answer doesn't matter, anyway. What matters is that it is true.  So I cried out to Jesus and begged Him and poured out my heart to Him and He opened my heart to His presence, and I drank it in like the light.

Then I flipped over my little calendar and read this:

"O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head."

-Psalm 139:1, 4-5