Friday, July 8, 2016

These Things I Will Do For Them

January 8, 2012 Unpublished

Last night, as I thought about Jesus, I thought about how He was before He became flesh and blood.

In Jesus dwells all the fullness of God the Father. Jesus is the manifestation of the Glory of God, and the Wisdom of God and the Word of God, and His goings out were from everlasting. He was with God and He is God and God delights in Him.

Then He came down and put on flesh and dwelt among us.

Who could ever grow tired of thinking of such things? Even when we have been with Him ages enduring, I do not think this story, this pivot point of human history, this extraordinary, explosive, silent moment will ever pass away from us. It will stay full of wonder and grace and love beyond telling.

When He came down into His own creation, how could it not all cry out for joy?

That's what I was thinking about last night.

And Jesus said to me, I was eager to come.

After a moment of trying to take this in, it made perfect sense to me. I could see Him looking down earlier, waiting for the time to be fulfilled, to begin it.

And then He said, I came down for you.

That took me a little longer to adjust to and there were no words possible for that.

(Obviously, in saying this, Jesus did not mean to state that He came down solely for myself; such a thing would be preposterously wrong. But I point this out here because this is not the only time where Jesus phrases something like that. It's an example of the personal love that He has for each of us; when He speaks to us, He says, 'you" and He really means you, but if He were speaking to someone else, He'd say, you to them, too.)

Of course Jesus was eager to accomplish all His Father's divinely glorious plans of love and redemption, and to build and enjoy the friendships that He would have with those His Father had given Him.

How much Jesus must have looked forward to seeing His friends for the first time- to speak to John the Baptist and to seeing Simon and giving His friend his new name.

"You are Simon, son of John," Jesus said, full of joy. "You shall be called Peter."

How shaken Peter would have been, in that moment- shaken and moved right to the core; and from that moment, his heart must have belonged to Jesus.

That's what happens when God looks at you, and recognizes you as His own, from before the foundations of the world were laid.

You will fail Him and let Him down, and misunderstand Him- but You can never go far away from Him for very long. You know that you are His, and will be irresistibly drawn to God again and again.

Anyway, that's my experience.

January 8, 2012 (Published)

Yesterday I read this:

"Then He (Jesus) came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town."
-Mark 8:22-23

The twenty third verse continues on, but my whole attention stopped at the last sentence.

Captivated, I pondered that story, caught by that line- to be blind and to have Jesus take you by the hand! To have your outstretched fingers, reaching through the dark, securely enclosed by His warm and calloused hand.

Maybe it was very quiet, and hot with the sun of mid-day. And all one can hear is the distant bleating of sheep and the voices of some neighbor women drifting through their open window, and the sound of the wind on the hills around the village.

There are the smells of stones baking in the sun, and sheep dung. There must have been the smell of fish and water, because it was a fishing village, and the smell of unwashed men.

The blind man- would he have walked along slowly, clinging to the hand of Jesus, this mysterious Teacher and his only hope? Perhaps behind them walked the blind man's friends and the disciples, talking together in low voices.

Maybe, as soon as Jesus took his hand, the blind man would have forgotten all his anxieties, his desperate hopes and even his suffering. Maybe everything in him would have become quiet and still, and warm from the sun.

If Jesus spoke to him, the voice of Jesus, as He directed the blind man along the path, would have been so quiet and calm, and somehow so dearly familiar, that I doubt the blind man would have been startled at the sound of it.

But perhaps he would have been surprised when Jesus stopped leading him.

Maybe, he would have thought, "Are we here already?"

And maybe, when he looked up to see men as trees, walking, and then looked up again, to see everyone plainly in the light of day, that light could not compare to the light that had already dawned within him, as soon as he took the hand of Jesus.

"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them."
-Isaiah 42:16

January 9, 2012 The Spirit of Christ Quote

The Holy Spirit

But now, Blessed be God! Jesus has been glorified; there is now the Spirit of the glorified Jesus; the promise can now be fulfilled: He that believeth on me, out of him shall flow rivers of living waters.

The great transaction which took place when Jesus was glorified is now an eternal reality. When Christ had entered with our human nature, in our flesh, into the Holiest of all, there took place that of which Peter speaks, 'Being by the right hand of God exalted, He received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost.'

In our place, and on our behalf, as man and the Head of man, He was admitted into the full glory of the Divine, and His human nature constituted the receptacle and the dispenser of the Divine Spirit.

And the Holy Spirit could come down as the Spirit of the Godman--most really the Spirit of God, and yet as truly the spirit of man. He could come down as the Spirit of the glorified Jesus to be in each one who believes in Jesus, the Spirit of His personal life and His personal presence, and at the same time the spirit of the personal life of the believer.

Just as in Jesus the perfect union of God and man had been effected and finally completed when He sat down upon the throne, and He so entered on a new stage of existence, a glory hitherto unknown, so too, now, a new era has commenced in the life and the work of the Spirit.

He can now come down to witness of the perfect union of the Divine and the human, and in becoming our life, to make us partakers of it. There is now the Spirit of the glorified Jesus: He hath poured Him forth; we have received Him to stream into us, to stream through us, and to stream forth from us in rivers of blessing.

-Andrew Murray: The Spirit of Christ

January 9, 2012 Unpublished

So, last night I prayed, as I often do, that I be able to see Jesus more clearly, to understand Him more deeply and to know and have Him more present- to have Him always perceptible present.

This is almost always my prayer, when I pray for anything, since I cannot go home early. If I must be here, then I want Jesus here with me, very here.

Surely, I asked Him, surely there is no harm in having Him always clearly beside me, in this life?

Surely not.

And before I hardly realized it, Jesus was very perceptibly there. He was so perceptibly there that I actually physically moved, because I knew exactly where Jesus was, holding me in His arms. So to speak with Him, I moved, so that I could look at His face as I spoke. It was very comfortable- the most closely comfortable that I have ever been with Him.

We talked about the day- the guest that had come over and Keith's birthday. Jesus said I did a good job with Keith's birthday.

His praise always makes me blush. I don't understand why He praises me. I keep thinking that's reserved for after I die.

And how can I do anything good, anyway? Everything I do must be riddled with faults, with things left undone that should have been done, things done that ought not to be done and things just done wrong.

That's always been my underlying perception of myself. So, when I hear Jesus say simply and quietly, that I did a good job, that I did well, I have a hard time believing Him.

If You say so, I tell Him, and it is only because of You.

I talked to Jesus about an article I had read.

"It's like," I said to Jesus, "the man that has built his house on sand- it must all get washed away before it can get built again, and the ruin is great, because the entire house was built wrong from the ground up. But the man himself is not lost. The Father builds him up again, on You, on Himself.

"And it is like those that have much. Those that have much already have the correct foundation, and so therefore, more can be given to them. Those that have little have the incorrect foundation, so even what they have -the incorrect foundation- must be taken away, so that they can start from scratch."

Jesus listened as I worked through these thoughts in His presence, but He did not say if they were right or wrong; I was aware only of His love and His deep interest and pleasure in what I was thinking and how I was thinking.

"I knew it!" I said, excited. "I knew the Father’s mercy must be greater than I had guessed!”

I felt Jesus’ answering joy and delight also in this declaration and this plan and this mercy of His loving Father.

"Well," I amended then, suddenly abashed, "I didn't know it.... I hoped it. I had great and persistent hope."

I felt Jesus' loving and tender amusement at my sudden shyness. It was as though I made Him laugh, though I cannot hear this. I just feel it. This is maybe the second or third time I felt Him laugh.

"I'm never doing this again," I told Jesus passionately. "I'm never going away from You again, to learn. No matter what opportunities come up in Heaven, I'm staying with You, right beside You and never leaving You for all of eternity. Whatever I have to learn, I will learn right at Your side. This is never happening again."

As I rested in His closeness, my thoughts drifted to other times when Jesus was so close. I relished all of them; I counted all my blessings, one might say, I listed all the things God had done for me, for love.

Then my thoughts drifted, and then I was thinking again about how God is a purifying fire and how marvelous that will feel, to have all the dross burned off, to be freed of all that stuff that weighs a person down.

I used to be afraid of this! Now I look forward to it. I ask Jesus, over and over again, to purify me now, to continually burn away whatever is not eternal and to replace it with my own, true and eternal nature, the true self that is always safe in Him.

It is as though Jesus is smoothing me over and over again, the way someone polishes and works wood, or clay or any other work of some one's hands. The more I yield to His spirit and to His hands, the truer my own self takes shape.

I don't lose myself in Jesus, I find myself. Or, more accurately, when I lose myself in Him, I find my true self. "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it," Jesus said. "And whoever loses their live will preserve it."

I remembered that all my flaws hold no eternal weight, because they will all get burned off- so it is as though they are a non-existent thing, and cannot define me. I am eternally defined by my life that is hidden in Christ. When I am aware of my flaws, I don't have to remain burdened by shame in them, but I can confess them with relief and know that they are passing away. In remembering this, I worshiped Jesus as my Savior, the One Who saves me from myself and everything else.

Even when I woke in the night, Jesus was there, holding me in His arms. It shocked me; I almost wanted to reject the sensation, because sometimes when I'm struggling with shame, it's easier to deny and reject His love and presence than to accept it. But I worked through that, and out of the shame and into acceptance, and then I was wide awake and couldn't go to sleep for a long time.

And in the morning, Jesus was there, holding me.

Here are some things Jesus told me, that I couldn't grasp:

I am always specific, Jesus has said to me.

Nothing in My creation is of no consequence to Me, Jesus has said to me.

You are My Jerusalem, Jesus has said to me- oh boy, did that one ever throw me off!

"That's can't be possible," I said simply. "Jerusalem is a city. Even in Revelation, it's a city, and Your bride."

Do you truly believe that I could love bricks and mortar more than living, flesh and blood persons? Jesus asked me. He had to say that to me twice, before it sunk in, I was so invested in Jesus loving an actual, physical city. Which isn't to say that He doesn't love the actual city of Jerusalem, I know He does. But not more than persons, His sons and daughters.

(I also saw an image that helped me understand the words Jesus spoke, and what I saw were stone houses. At first, I saw only stone houses, and then I saw the faces of people looking out the windows and I saw the houses were full of people who were full of expression and emotion and life- I was very aware of their spiritual and physical life, that living, breathing people- and as I saw this, I couldn't help but also know Jesus' overflowing love of these people living in the houses. I saw this sequence of images more than once, as I was pondering Jesus' words.)

"Well, no," I admitted. "But You love the city! You say that You love the city over and over and over again, all through the Bible."

The city is a symbol, Jesus reminded me.

Boy, that struck home! I sat for a while and thought that through. In the city of Jerusalem was the throne of the king of Israel and also the Temple, and as I realized that, wonder struck me. Because now, of course, Jesus our King lives in us, and we are His living Temple.

"But why did they measure it, in Ezekiel and Revelation?" I asked, puzzled.

Because it's real, Jesus said.

That puzzled me to no end, until I realized that something can be both real and a symbol. The cross was real- it was an actual, wooden object upon which Jesus was physically hung with nails- and is also a symbol. The crown is real and also a symbol. The city of Jerusalem is and will be a real city, but it is also a symbol.

"Behold," the Father says, "I have made all things new."

And because why?

Because we are His sons and daughters, that is why.

Just the very thing that Jesus has said to me over and over again.

I asked Jesus last night, was there a particular version of the Bible I should get, so that I could get the closest translation possible to how He spoke.

And Jesus said that it didn't matter, it wasn't the version of the Bible that led me into all truth- It's the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of Christ, that does that.

It is true that Jesus will eagerly lead His son or daughter into the truth of who He is. He is an excellent Teacher. I have asked Him to explain so many things I've actually forgotten most of them.

But I have absolutely zero doubt that He will remember all of them, and explain every single one of them to me and to anyone else who asks Him. He delights to do so.

And Jesus will never over burden, just gently lead, preparing the way ahead and confirming after and repeating many times, so the words are built into the person's life.

Oh, Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor!