Friday, October 7, 2016

October 7th

August 15, 2016

This is my first entry here in the new house, sitting with the computer tucked into the corner of the living room and next to the large sliding glass doors, so I can see the green of the trees pressed up close against the back of the house, and the long green grass that is knee high on the slope, waiting for the landscaping company to come and till the soil and replant. It seems a pity. The grass is already growing so well, but the ground beneath is too rough and uneven for a lawn, too rough for a lawn mower, and so it must be tilled under and grown again. Just in time to be watered by the winter snow, said a farmer’s son, who was here for dinner the other day. That’s what he said when I asked him why they didn’t plant lawns until the end of August. They set in better at the end, when they get more water over the winter.

There has been nonstop rain here this summer, but everyone assures us that this is peculiar weather for Indiana, and it should be hot and dry. Instead, it’s humid and raining and like the Amazon.

It was a Monday that we arrived in Indiana, and a Monday that we moved into the new house, and the next Monday afterward that our stuff, so long in storage, was delivered. That particular Monday was our wedding anniversary- the first of August. It was our eighth wedding anniversary. So on the first day of the eighth month on 2016, on the day of our being married eight years, we received the bulk of our belongings that had been kept for us until the house was finished.

The belongings came in a ratty and rattling old truck without even a company logo, with one tire blown all the shreds on the road up here. I’d never seen a tire so mangled that wasn’t already in shreds along the side of the interstate highway, long after the incident and happened, and yet here it was, in our driveway. How they made it all the way with that tire in shreds, no one knew, but at the very least, they had had to stay at thirty miles an hour, which explained why they were late.

However, the first night we spent in the new house was rapturous, even with the air mattress still, after almost six weeks of sleeping on it. The peace of the room, all painted in a warm, pale cream color, with the windows looking out to the trees that are ours, and cannot be cut down, and the clean floors and clean bathrooms, and the rushing of the powerful fan overhead, all this was pleasure so much neither of us slept for thinking of everything our future held.

The discomfort of that air mattress! I can’t remember it anymore; already it’s fading into obscure memory; something about back pain and being cold all night long. I can barely remember the misery of the temporary apartment, of poor or no sleep in box room that smelled of cat urine, the downstairs constantly gathering great mats of Abby's black hair that she was shedding by the pound, it seemed, the small rooms smelling stale and needing to be vacuumed and mopped every day and still looking filthy the next day, and each day, the same challenge to be grateful for each good thing. This had to be done with stubborn will- thankful for the vacuum, thankful for the mattress itself, thankful for a place to stay, thankful for food to eat and a window to look out of, even if it couldn't be opened it because of the heat.

Yesterday we went to church for the first time. As I do when going to a church, I prayed the Lord prepare my heart to meet with my brothers and sisters in Him, to receive them and their gifts with joy and gratitude, to see them through His eyes, and that His will be done.

As He does, Jesus answered that prayer, and worship was very good. I heard others praying and worshiping and calling out to Jesus during and after the songs, while the music was playing, and I understood that this was acceptable and even encouraged. When I began, even on the edge to do this- to speak out also, to pour out worship to Jesus, I wanted immediately to get down on the floor.

I was filled with awe tinged with fear, to be asking for the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to fill that room, as we were asking in the song, and I prayed to the Lord Jesus to prepare our hearts for His presence, to wash and cleanse our hearts and to prepare us to receive Him, because as we were asking for His presence, I was seeing Jesus come in the room, and what I was seeing was everyone also on the floor in awe at His presence, and crying out to Him, in joy, in worshipful awe, in grief at sin revealed and in relief at sin forgiven. I could see that it would be intense, overwhelming, even unexpected to some. And when I went to pour out my heart for His presence, I knew I wanted to be on the floor right away, but even as I bent down, with my hand on my head, I was asking, asking, asking Him- is now the time? Because if now is the time, I will pour myself out without reserve.

But the Holy Spirit filled my heart with the knowledge that He was coming gently, as a dove, so as not to frighten the young in Christ, and so as not to overwhelm those that were not yet in the place to receive the strong meat of His presence. This was a clear message from Him, so immediately, I welcomed and went into this flowing of the Holy Spirit, and I felt and rejoiced in and poured out gratitude for the great mercy and tender loving kindness of the Holy Spirit, to come in that way for the sake of the young and the not quite yet ready.

However, our attendance there was unexpectedly cut short by an unexpected event, and I felt really disappointed, naturally speaking, because I felt as though what the Holy Spirit was going to do had barely begun, and I wanted to stay.

Immediately Jesus reminded me to receive this event with His mercy and to obey His words through this, and not to respond through a fleshly way, which would have been disappointed and angry. It was hard not to respond in that way, but Jesus didn’t leave me to myself, so I could not fall back for very long before His conviction reminded me, so after a struggle to obey Him, I managed to get in that flow of obedience to Him- this was well after we were back home.

Altogether, there was a great deal of joy, hope and promise in our visit to that church, but also unmistakably, a great deal of resistance, hardship and challenge. Jesus has told me repeatedly, that to get through this, I must rest in Him in complete faith that He will open the way to the church where He will plant us, regardless of what might seem to be in the way. I must rest in Jesus and let Him make the way open and let Him lead me into it. That’s the key to this door. The key is resting in His wisdom, power and goodness.

August 16, 2016

After church, I was resting with Jesus and I said to Him that I want to let my spirit burst out and let myself go up like a torch with His fire, to pour out all the longing in me for His presence, for His will to be done. I want the greatest possible degree of His presence to flood the whole place and transform it, I want with all my strength, without reserve, to cry out to Jesus to come, with all that is in me, regardless of how strange this may appear to be in the physical.

Not yet, Jesus said, with compassion. He said this twice. I had been expecting this to happen soon after we arrived, but I see now Jesus has a longer time line in place.

I woke up this morning and the first thing I knew was the gentle presence of Jesus in the lightest of touches. In my spirit, I immediately went to Him and Jesus was filled with laughter, with joy at my trust, recognition and loving response to Him. Stood for a moment or two in the rooms to look around them. Saw the oak tree at the corner of the garden, only the trunk of the tree seemed to be going up into the sky and instead of leaves, it had clouds. Then it was raining, strong and swift, just as it has been raining here these days.

Jesus is going to the temple to cleanse it, as I have been reading in my Gospel, and each breath of His is precious, time ticking down to the end. Each moment with His disciples, He is filled with love for them, love for them and awareness of the swift passing of time and the approach of destiny.

Keith is officially starting his new job next Monday. So that’s another new thing happening on a Monday- August 22nd.

August 21, 2016

When I ordered the dining room table, I neglected to measure the length, and I found afterward it was seventy two inches, which was almost too long for the space and possibly awkward to get around. Prayed to Jesus about it and tried not to worry about it, but it was hard because if the table doesn't fit the space, that's a problem.

When Mom and Dad were here, they said maybe it had a leaf in it that could be taken out, so I went to check, feeling anxious and lo and behold, it wasn’t a just leaf, but a butterfly leaf- it folded up and stored under the table itself!

Jesus made sure I made the connection- that the answer to my prayer had been built into it from the beginning. He had known all along what I was going to ask, and had the solution ready to hand.

This is like the trees at the edges of the grove in our backyard. There were five trees that the landscaper told us would have to be taken down- not just the landscaper, but the designer as well, when he toured the house as it was being built. They all said that it was because the soil had been pushed up against the tree trunks and when that happens, the trees die. They don’t die right away, but over the course of two or three years, they will.

At first, I ignored this, but when the landscaper said this as well, my heart sunk and I cried out to Jesus, because I was already in love with the grove and the trees and the mystery and beauty of it, and I didn’t want trees falling down, crashing into the others and tearing up the ground. But Keith had already talked to the builder about getting a bulldozer in here to knock them down.

However, I went out to actually look up close at the tree trunks, which are largely hidden by thick bushes and by the swell of the raw earth in front of them. When I went and looked closely, I saw that the swell of earth did not actually reach the tree trunks at all! None of the trees had been buried- not even by a few inches. It just looked that way from a distance.

So the plans to knock them over were cancelled and nothing more has been said about it, and Jesus had the answer to my prayer built in from the beginning.

August 26, 2016

Saw cloud formation of graceful woman sitting with child in her arms. Was particularly pointed out to me, went back to look a second time to be sure I was seeing it, and there it was.

August 28, 2016

“You know what You mean,” I've been saying to Jesus when I'm with Him, instead of being filled with questions- this faith moves Him deeply and greatly pleases Him. Because I keep wanting to figure out the inside track, the whole picture, and it's tempting to be discontented when Jesus doesn't explain it all. There are times when things remain Jesus' mystery for good reason and it's enough that He knows.

September 1, 2016

“You give me just enough, You give me all that I need.”

I give you all, Jesus corrected me.

I love you, blossoming one, Jesus said, because as I go through my mortal life, I am becoming more of what He planned for all along, and He loves to see His plans taking shape and coming to fruition.

I haven’t been recording this, but ever since life has taken on a normal routine here- and a far better one than ever I have known before- I have been able to rest in and soak in Jesus’ presence, just as He assured me would happen. I marinate in His love night after night, resting close to Him and breathing Him in, and pouring out love on Him.

September 7, 2016

It’s the margins that Jesus has been showing me lately- the places in between the suffering of His passion where He had to steel His nerves through the wait, and ride out the rising and falling of His human emotions- before Pilot, for example, when Pilot offers the crowd the option of freeing one prisoner before the feast.

Jesus’ emotions must have leapt at that point, how could they not? He was fully human. Patiently enduring His emotions as He lived surrendered to Abba’s will would have been part of the suffering. And then the sinking as the crowd rejects Him and chooses a murderer and then the crowd crying out for His death!

And then the point where Pilot hands Him over, and the door to any escape at all closes, all appeals are over. At that point, crucifixion is certain. He has in fact been handed over to the Gentiles, and now handed over to death.

There is no one else to consult, nowhere else to be taken but down to the Praetoreum and to wait while they assemble the whole garrison. Sometimes I have to stop reading at that point, the horror is too much.

But the time also when He is waiting for morning, the time they are leading Him through the streets- those in between times of agonizing waiting, of transition.

September 10, 2016

The beauty of my new life here sometimes shocks me into immobility. I am caught in a moment of overwhelming beauty- of sight, sound, peace, provision and I cannot move for the gratitude that moves through me, and I pour out worship to the Lord Jesus, who brought me here, because I remember the Israelites, who, reaching the Promised Land, promptly forgot the Lord.

It’s a sobering lesson. Sometimes lately I say to Jesus, “Keep me only unto Yourself for as long as we both shall live!” I want Him to keep me to Himself- most especially through the richly good times, when He pours good things to overflowing in my lap and I feel almost as though I am drowning in these good, good things. It’s the richness of the vast sky and the towering clouds and the movement of leaves filling the view through the windows, the thick green of the forest shot with evening gold and the white kitchen with the blue plates and my clean counters and Keith watching a car show and Merissa humming to herself while she strings beads on a pipe cleaner and the strong wind tossing the multitude of leaves up in swirling eddies around the corner of the building, the corner of the bay window, bricked in red and familiar from this summer, when it was still being built, and the inside had yet to be finished, but we knew it would be ours- or, we hoped, because the loan hadn’t closed.

But now it is and we are heading out into those deep, still waters of our life, the life that we knew would be good, but didn’t know exactly what it would look like. Now it is unfolding, day by day. I am beginning to know what it will look like, as the season’s change. This is the fall- fall looks like this. Fall will change to winter and I will know what the winter feels like, tastes like, what the winter light looks like as it falls through the windows.

The fall light is gorgeous, creating leaf patterned tapestries against the wall, moving tapestries of pale gold against the paler cream of the paint. The sun is setting right now and through the thinning leaves I see amber, gold and apricot, I see white and autumn blue- that clear, almost delicate blue, and the darkness of the leaves in the foreground, so the light is in pieces shining through, bits of stained glass sky. The leaves are moving. I can’t see well without my glasses, but I see the shimmering of the movement.

This is what Jesus created. If what He created has this multifaceted beauty, how truly beautiful is Jesus Himself? If texture and color and feel and weight and light and living things growing green and strong, and the soft noses of shy animals and the winging of birds into the sky- if that’s what He created, what is He Himself like to see in Person? He drew all of this out of His heart, out of His love, His delight, His overflowing creativity.

In the quietness, I turn into His arms, because I know Jesus Himself is with me in my spirit and that I am hidden in Him and so He is always with me. I am encased in warm light and all the troubles ease out of me. They melt away, because they are of no consequence. There is no fear and no anxiety, because Jesus Himself is with me. I have reached the End and am already resting with Him- I am loved by my Judge who is my precious Redeemer and steadfast Savior, I am returned to my Creator and He keeps me, because I am His.

"The Lord Jesus Himself is my Shepherd,” I pray and I know the next line is rock solid true- “I will have everything I need.”

September 22, 2016

Yesterday I had one of the most intense experiences of being with Jesus that I have ever known, and yet I remembered that in the beginning, those sorts of experiences came often! But when I looked back at the earlier times, though they were full of intensity, they lacked the depth of love that there is now in my heart toward Jesus. There’s great depth there because my knowledge of Him has grown over the years. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. But it is not only knowledge, it is trust. Over five years I have learned to trust Him.

I spent a lot of work on you, Jesus told me, as I was thinking this. Jesus spent a long time teaching me so that He could build a rock solid foundation of trust in Him alone, a foundation that could support everything else that He's built in my life and relationship with Him.

When I was with Jesus yesterday, there was intensity and vast expanses of understanding that led to ecstatic worship. It’s a flowing thing because I am being with Him it seems, in real time. That is, it’s not a static experience. It’s a flowing, relational experience.

There is one moment and the knowledge that I am with Jesus and may love on Him suddenly fills my whole understanding, this understanding is like the sky which has no end and is full of beauty both seen and unseen, and I pour out my heart without reserve toward Jesus, and I realize again that I am actually that close to Jesus! And I must look at Him, and the knowledge that I am looking at Jesus is like being dropped off a waterfall amid the roaring of the water, but there isn't any pain, only awe, and I can hardly breathe and I can’t look anymore, my eyes drop down in reverent fear and love too much for words, but I can’t forget the sight of His eyes, filled with love, holding nothing back. I am not with Jesus in a theoretical way, I am with Jesus, the One I will see at the end of my life, the One who is returning to this earth to reign over it. Jesus, who sees all things and knows the hearts of men.

I melt down into wonder, confession, and wordless worship, but His love brings me back to Him, and I realize that He loves me. Jesus does not love me in a theoretical way; He loves me in this intensity personal and face to face way.

September 23, 2016

“Hello, most holy Creator,” I whispered to Jesus with all the love of myself, the enraptured, the saved and eternally grateful created and redeemed one, brought back to Himself. The joy of it! The inexpressible joy of knowing the One who brought you into being, and  then saves you, then gives Himself to you, because He brought you into being for that reason. It is like resting in the center of existence, only existence is a Person with a name and He loves you, and God is His Father. I was holding Jesus close and pouring out this love and rapturous joy to Him, and I saw tears slip from the corners of His closed eyes and run down His temples.

September 26, 2016

Today when I got up, I heard the wind chime ringing out. I had dreamed all night of the harvest and of Jesus marshalling His troops. Then, when I woke and opened the windows. the wind and the sound of the wind came through like the roar of the ocean, rising and falling, filling the morning. The sun hadn't risen, so I couldn't see the trees, I could only hear the roaring of the wind through the leaves.

Last night, as soon as I knew myself to be with Jesus, I dropped all my defenses in confession- it’s not that those defenses are bad in ordinary life, but I don’t need or want them with Jesus, who knows all my thoughts before I say them, and besides which, it’s part of the response to being with Jesus. As soon as I know that I’m with Him, at this deeper level of knowing, the fear of God causes me swiftly to confess all that I am to Him and to lean wholly into His mercy and grace.

You glorify Me, Jesus said, His voice both large and quiet. His voice was unusually large- that is, deep and wide in perceptible authority, but also quiet like still waters and like the voice of One who is speaking close to your ear, so He does not have to raise His voice to be heard.

At hearing this, I poured out my intense relief that this should always be so, that the bottom-line should always be that I glorify Jesus.

I know, Jenny, Jesus said, the peace of His voice deep and unshakeable, tender and loving. He knows what lies in my heart.

For some reason, when I was with Him, I thought of a song, and lovingly, began to sing it to Jesus- “Oh Lord my God!” I sang joyfully, as I rested curled up close to Him and watching His face, “when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made!” As I was singing this to Him, I was pouring out worship and gratitude for specific beautiful things of His creation that I had seen that day, bringing them to mind and offering them back to Him with gratitude and love, because they had been gifts from Him. I sang to Him the whole first verse, but I could hardly sing at the end of the chorus, because the love of Jesus that was pouring into me was so strong that I could hardly speak.


O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow with humble adoration,
And then proclaim, "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

-How Great Thou Art
Lyrics ~ Carl Boberg, 1859 - 1940
English Translation ~ Stuart K. Hine, 1899 - 1989