Friday, November 11, 2016

Out Of Many Waters

February 3, 2012

I'm able to see something a little more clearly now.

Looking back, I see how Jesus entered my life last fall and my absorption with Him eclipsed my life.

That line from the hymn, "Turn your eyes toward Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace," perfectly describes it.

But life doesn't go away and life isn't a side issue; it is the issue. So eventually, I experienced a kind of intense internal conflict.

When the time was right, Jesus perfectly resolved this conflict by teaching me to find Him in my own life.

So, it was as though Jesus took my life as I knew it away from me by absorbing it into Himself, and all I could see and all I could long for was Him.

And then He gave my life back to me, but full of His own life.

Longing for Jesus drives me deeper into the exact time and place and people and tasks of this moment of my life, which means that I live in it fully and fully in Him at the same time. They are mutually fulfilling.

Looking back, I can see that He's been teaching me this all along, all my life. I'll probably have to learn this again, and maybe even again. That's okay though, because each time, my understanding deepens.

February 4, 2012 Unpublished, Adoption

What a day.

We had friends over.

They've recently had a baby girl, in addition to their four year old girl. Both were conceived after several rounds on clomid.

Probably because of this, the mother is simply unable to understand why I would not want to aggressively pursue more infertility treatments. It always comes up in conversation.

"So you want to hold her?" asks this woman, temptingly. "I'll bet it makes you want one of your own."

"I don't see why you and Keith don't want to just keep trying," she said.

"Doesn't adoption take such a long time? I have friends who were supposed to receive a baby last summer and they're still waiting," she said.

My choice to give up infertility treatments where I did is somewhat unusual, I believe, so I'm used to fielding at least a certain amount of questions on the matter, but for some reason, this woman just produces in me this feeling of being oppressed.

I don't know how to describe it other than that. I feel more and more beaten down. She talks in such a soft voice. She seems so friendly, but all my joy at the upcoming adoption begins to drain out of me. It's not that I question my decision, it's just that I feel pressed down, further and further.

The funny thing is, Keith and I are getting more excited about adoption. In fact, this morning we bought the folder that we'll use to keep all our documents organized for our dossier. We talked more about adopting siblings. We talked about the joy of introducing our children to their new home- the park and the school and their room. (At this point, we were planning on international adoption for slightly older children.)

I was expecting to be able to share this joy with this woman, but in the end, when I talked about it, my tone of voice was firm and almost defensive.

"Next month," I stated, "when we get the loan..." Etc, etc. All my remarks had to be planted down firmly as though against on coming pressure.

And then it hit me. She will never consider our children to actually be members of our family. It is beyond her ability to understand.

Some people in life will never be able to grasp who you are or where you are coming from. They just simply can't. It won't compute for them. It's like two people who speak two different languages. They are talking, but they are not communicating.

This happens to me a lot because my life has sent me out far to the edges, or farther into the depths than generally experienced.

I'm fine with that, but it was jarring to consider that this complete blank wall would also be extended, from time to time, to my children.

This ended up bothering me less than I thought it would, because I don't think of my children as mine. They aren't extensions of me, even if I'd given birth to them.

They belong to their Father and to their own future. They pass through my life. They spend some time with me and I with them and both of us grow and are forever changed, but they aren't my possessions. They were always uniquely created by Jesus.

Getting through the afternoon was exhausting and whenever I leaned into Jesus, I almost burst into tears, because I've learned to let go each time I rest in Him, and to just... release whatever I've been holding onto, because He is always the safe place.

Jesus is like an anchor in the soul, steady and sure, no matter the stuff that goes on around me, no matter how long those waves keep coming.

February 6, 2012 Unpublished

Lately, I often feel Jesus put His hands on my waist. As soon as I feel this, I am grounded and claimed.

Last night, I was caught up in His love. I floated in it, was all in the warm heart of it. Each time I breathed, I meditated on the fact that it was as much His breath as mine, that my life and His are that much in union.

I thought of David saying, You have hidden me in the secret places of Your tabernacle, which is sort of what it feels like, or like being under the shadow of His wings.

I said to Jesus, "You are my God, I have no other God beside You, You alone are my God."

Because I was thinking of the half time show and that strange performance by Madonna, that was evocative of small gods.

And immediately Jesus replied, And you are My girl, or My own, or My loved little one. It wasn't a word, it was a concept that contained all those meanings, and I felt so shy at hearing this, it was as though I ducked my head away while He was still speaking.

Jesus kept putting His face close to mine. Sometimes I could receive this closeness and sometimes I was too shy. I could feel myself caught up tightly and warmly in His arms, as if He had wound them around my waist and was holding me firmly.

This morning, I was worried, again, about parenting, especially school choices.

"I have no idea how to be a parent,' I confessed to Him.

I do, Jesus replied, perfectly calm and assured.

February 6, 2012

A couple nights ago, I was reading in Luke, and I got to a parable and as usual, I didn't get the gist of it.

Some times reading those things is just like staring at a blank wall. I'm too close up to see the pattern, or something.

I think: "I should know this. How can I not know what He's talking about in this?"

Then I noticed the first line again. It said, "And He spoke a parable to them."

A parable. A single parable. Suddenly, I realized the possibility that all those sayings might be pulled together to illustrate one cohesive concept.

So, I tried reading it like that, from Luke 6:39 to the end of the chapter.

And I saw it differently. Here's what I saw:

"And He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?"

I wondered anxiously, who is blind? How do we know who is blind?

How do I know I'm not blind? That would be a good thing to know, right?

Then I read further.

"A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher."

Okay, so maybe a pupil who thinks he is above his teacher is blind. Who is Jesus talking to right here? He's talking to His disciples.

What do you want to bet that some of His disciples were trying to lead some of their fellow disciples?

Maybe even a few of them were all like: "Well, all this mercy and forgiveness is good so far as it goes, but eventually, people have to be made to be good. What Joe Disciple is doing is just not right, and if Jesus won't nip that in the bud, well, I will. And don't even get me started on all these sinners all around us all the time..."

Sounds familiar, right? I used to buy into that way of thinking, myself.

So, I kept reading.

"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye."

My understanding opened right up. I'll bet some of Jesus' disciples were judging and condemning each other, because that is exactly what Jesus talked about just before He spoke this parable.

Also, having a beam in one's eye might very well lead to blindness, or at least some significant trouble seeing.

So, Jesus is saying, "Don't blindly attempt to lead others when you are not listening to Me and are blind from not repenting of your own sins, or you will get nowhere but the ditch. Instead, learn of Me and grow up into My image."

And what was Jesus like? He was full of mercy and forgiveness.

So, I read on.

"For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush."

I got frustrated. I thought, what is the fruit? I never get these fruit parables, because I never know what the fruit symbolizes.

Then I remembered again: this is all still one parable- insofar as Jesus did not speak these parables to them, but a parable to them.

If so, then this is still illustrating the same concept.

So, a good tree produces mercy and forgiveness- grapes and figs, a bad tree produces judgment and condemnation- thorns and briars.

I read on.

"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."

So it might be that a person humbly comes to Jesus to take care of the beam in his eye, in order to deal with the blindness that such a condition might produce in him, and finds in Jesus mercy and forgiveness.

Then, that person has mercy and forgiveness flowing out of his good and humble heart, like good fruits from a good tree, as he conforms himself to Jesus' example.

In fact, maybe once that person is in that position, he actually is in a good position to help his brothers along, because he is able to come alongside them, walking on down the road, avoiding the ditches, and lovingly help them in their troubles.

But it seems that the other man, blind from his beam but not acknowledging it, and therefore a hypocrite, brings forth judgment and condemnation and attempts to blindly lead his brothers by arrogantly telling them exactly how to shape up and fly right.

So I read on.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"

Another words, maybe Jesus is saying- don't just parrot what I say to others in order to control them, but actually take My words to heart, in order to transform your own life.

This made sense to me when I thought about Jesus' examples of leadership- which are of service and humility.

So I read on.

"Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

I then saw this conclusion differently than before.

The humble disciple, who has not judged or condemned his brothers, but forgiven them and been merciful- as Jesus has been merciful and forgiving toward him- is not himself condemned or judged.

His house stands, because he has dug deep- he has laid open the deep places of his heart to Jesus and he leans on Jesus alone.

The arrogant blind disciple who has heard the words but never let them anywhere near his heart, only using them for power and position, risks being swept into the ditch, and all his house with him.

Both of those conclusions have been true for me.

I have been arrogant. My life was a holy looking house built on the sands of religious performance, and I judged and condemned others who did not appear to be living up to my own holy standards. And may God have mercy on me, I looked for them to face judgment, when my own heart was full of bitterness, doubt and arrogance.

But when the floods came, that empty, lonely house could not stand; the ruin of it was great, and the torrent washed it away. I was left with the detritus of sticks and stones, of briars and nettles.

But many waters cannot quench love.

Jesus was not content that anyone should be a ruined garden, the walls broken down, producing nothing but nettles in the ditch. Jesus comes down, He reaches down and pulls us out and He builds us up again upon Himself alone.


Go through,
Go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people;
Build up,
Build up the highway!
Take out the stones,
Lift up a banner for the peoples!

Indeed the Lord has proclaimed
To the end of the world:
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Surely your salvation is coming;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.’

-Isaiah 62:10-11, NKJV