Friday, November 18, 2016

See What Great Love

February 6, 2012

Last night, I was deeply involved in thinking through some line of thought, like I normally am. I forget even what it was that I was thinking through.

I could tell, even as I was working through it, that my logic was fuzzy and I wasn't making the right connections.

With a kind of self-depreciating humor, I tossed the whole line of thought aside.

"That was going nowhere," I told Jesus.

I liked it, He said.

"Why?" I asked. "My line of thinking was full of mistakes, so how could You like it? And why would You tell me that?"

It's difficult to adjust myself to the encouragement of Jesus. I never believed that He might be encouraging.

I always thought that Jesus used only two methods- reward and punishment. If I did something good, I got blessed. If I did something bad, I got punished.

Kind of like a dog trainer.

To answer my question, Jesus drew to my attention first my heart and then Him.

I liked where it was coming from and where it was going, Jesus replied.

"Alright," I said. "But I still don't understand why You would tell me that You liked it; to encourage me even though it wasn't exactly right."

In response, Jesus showed me a picture of my not yet here daughter, about four years old, standing next to me, and chattering on about something very important to her.

Jesus said, If your child shared with you something from the heart, would you condemn her for still being a child, or would you encourage her to continue growing?

I have to admit, that kind of shook me. Because, of course I wouldn't condemn a four year old for not thinking like an adult.

Instead, I would be delighted that she was thinking deeply at her own little level; I would not hit her over the head for not being at mine.

As she grew, I'd continue listening and guiding her as life went on. In fact, my ability to teach or guide her effectively would depend a great deal upon my ability to meet her where she is, and to know who she really is, not who I might want her to be.

There are certain things that Jesus has said to me over and over again, that He keeps on bringing to the forefront of my mind.

One is that we are His children, and He cannot love us less than a human father could love his children.

Jesus and the Father cannot love less authentically, less passionately, less warmly, less protectively, less tenderly, less faithfully or with less forgiveness than a human father could.

The human reflection cannot contain more meaning or value or depth than the divine reality from which it was cast, and to which it points.

It's funny, though, how difficult it is for me to grasp this.

If you asked me about my father, I'd tell you immediately that he was warm, loving, forgiving and accepting, and that when I came to him with a problem, he had wise and thought provoking things to say that helped me see beyond my point of view, and that encouraged my growth, but never condemned me for needing still to grow.

But if you asked me if my Heavenly Father did the same, I would hesitate.

How awfully sad that is! What a heartrending loss of trust and relationship.

February 6, 2012 Unpublished

I keep thinking about children lately. My mind and heart are slowly expanding out into this idea that we might actually become parents.

Keith and I have talked about which of the two spare rooms would the "the children's room." The warmer, sunnier room is of course the choice, the one that faces out to the front and has the big closet.

We decided on bunk beds, even if we just adopt one at this time. I want to put their names up in wooden letters on the wall, and have low shelves for children's books and bean bags to sit in.

I saw children playing in the park today when I went for a walk and it further dawned on me that I might actually bring my own children there to play. In the hot summer days, they might play in the stream all afternoon and come home hot and muddy and irritable.

However, even if we choose to be matched with siblings, aged 0 to 5 years, we are looking at a wait time of three years, and that is not taking into account the three to six months or longer that it takes just to put together a dossier.

This whole thing is so frustrating. Even our window of two years stability is proving too small to adopt internationally.

Because of this, I'm reconsidering domestic infant adoption. It's in the same cost bracket, but the wait time is only 21 months at most, after completing the homestudy, etc.

That's well under two years.

February 7, 2012 Also Unpublished, discussing same as above

I had an awful day yesterday.

I found out that the wait time for adoption from Colombia is three years, and that does not include the time it takes to put together a dossier and home study.

And that dream died. It sort of died over the length of the afternoon.

It was like going through all the stages of grief in a matter of a few hours, from denial to anger to grief to acceptance.

Only I didn't bother to bargain with Jesus. If He asks me to let something go, I know that He means it.

I dug out the old paperwork we had for domestic infant adoption, which has its own set of distinct challenges.

I kept going back and forth between my dying dreams of two little dark eyed children from South America and the challenges and rewards of domestic infant adoption, which was slowly growing on me.

"What are we going to do?" I asked Jesus desperately. "What are we going to do? What's the answer? Which way do we go? How is this all going to work out?"

Ask Keith, Jesus said patiently. Jesus is steady like a rock, sometimes, and often so surprisingly practical.

Well now. Maybe I should ask my husband about the adoption. He might have some input. There might be a reason why we're so closely teamed up together.

Keith was having a difficult evening because he had one more important meeting the next day, for his new job. That had him all keyed up, and brisk and detail-oriented.

We had dinner and then we talked about it. We decided to go with domestic infant adoption, and today after his meeting, Keith will research loan options.

At that point, in my mind, the spare room changed from a children's room to a nursery. Instead of bunk beds, a crib. Instead of a dresser, a changing table. Instead of two children running around on the lawn, a baby toddling around in shorts and onesie.

It's strange. You would think my heart would have gone out to the idea of the baby right away. But no. My heart had gotten all wrapped up around two little preschool children.

All over again, I went through the stages of anger and grief over my infertility. It astonished me, to remember again that some couples just get pregnant. I sometimes forget that it happens naturally at all and when I remember, the pain at that loss seems brand new.

I went to bed all bruised and bleeding on the inside, still grieving the loss of the one, and adjusting to the possibility of the other.

I rested in myself in Jesus, in His quiet and healing love, and listened to His breathing. I could feel His own sorrow with me. It is one thing to know that He feels with me, but another to feel His grief. It makes the letting go much easier.

After a little while, the hurts eased. It always makes me think of that verse, "my body also will rest without fear," from Psalm 16, which is one of my most favorite psalms ever.

My thoughts wandered off and then back to the presence of Jesus, as though to make sure He was still there, and I would feel again His love keeping me bound up close to Him and then my thoughts would wander again.

At one point, when I turned to Jesus yet again, and yet again knew He was there, holding me in His arms, the wonder of it struck me, even after all this time, even when it is something that I've known and experienced now for months.

"Why?" I asked Him. "Why do You love me like this?"

Because you're My daughter, He replied.

(You might well ask if I was talking to Jesus, Abba or the Holy Spirit, and I think the best answer would be, yes. Also, for a long time, Jesus stood in for the Father, because my previous ideas of the Father were so hurtful and ingrained. I knew He was doing this intentionally and compassionately. Of course, Jesus was with me through His Holy Spirit, as He was not physically in the room, nor have I ever had such an encounter with Jesus. My understanding of the Trinity was helpful in accepting this gift, and early on, Jesus gave me some scriptures to help, such as this and this. I was amazed that Jesus and the Father would be that gracious toward me, but it was partly because of this that I knew I was loved so deeply.)

Joy seeped up through my heart like water.

"I'm Your daughter," I repeated, with certainty.

I can't count the number of times Jesus has said this to me- just, over and over again. The meaning of it is beginning to sink into me, after all this time.

He is always going to be interested, involved, and attached. Everything that I do and think and feel and everything that happens to me, is always going to be of immediate interest and importance to Jesus, because of this- because I'm His child.

Again, I knew that He was there, holding me in His arms. I feel it in my spirit, in a way I can't describe.

I thought to myself, "Oh my goodness. God Himself is right here in this room. God Himself is actually holding me in His arms. My spirit is face to face with God."

The wonder of it swept over me all over again. "What manner of God are You?" I asked Jesus shyly.

The only One, He replied, humorously. I couldn't see Him, but I could feel Him smile as He spoke.

"The only One," I thought to myself, wonderingly. "The only God. This speaks very well for the entire world, for all of time, since the only God is this closely and lovingly invested in His offspring, to His creation."

February 8, 2012

I found the following quote from Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis:

"No, no, no," she said. "You don't understand. Not that kind of longing. It was when I was happiest that I longed most. It was on happy days when we were up there on the hills, the three of us, with the wind and the sunshine... where you couldn't see Glome or the palace. Do you remember? The colour and the smell and looking across at the Grey Mountains in the distance? And because it was so beautiful, it set me longing, always longing. Somewhere else there must be more of it. Everything seemed to be saying, Psyche, come! But I couldn't (not yet) come and I didn't know where I was to come to. It almost hurt me. I felt like a bird in a cage when the other birds of its kind are flying home."

February 9, 2012 Early draft of a letter to a friend

My C.S. Lewis book arrived today and I have read over half. It threatened to undo all the hard learned balance of longing with living. Oh, that C.S. Lewis.

I was sitting outside, cleaning the stones in the front garden plot. Someone in years past dumped mulch and then pine needles over the stone. I was sorting through the rubble, and thinking about stuff.

Faith must be of extraordinary importance to God, or else He wouldn't put us away from the full experience of Him in order to learn it.

There must be a veil, so we learn to know He is there, even when we cannot see that He is there.

I wonder what faith turns into, when we don't need it anymore- when we see Him and know Him fully?

And why does He love us like He does? My wonder at this never fully goes away- it just goes quiet for a time and then it flows back up. We must be greater than what we seem.

You are my God, I told Him earnestly, a few nights ago.

And you are My girl, He immediately replied, as if it was a loving kind of game.

Sometimes, I feel Him come up to me and take my face in His hands and tip my face up to His. He leans down and He rests His forehead against mine. I cannot see Him.

For all intents and purposes, I am walking down a paved road through a quiet park, or I am lying on my bed in the dark, or I am doing the dishes, or I am typing. Only with a shy sort of loopy smile on my face.

But I know His touch, and I know He is there, and that, in my spirit, I am face to face with God. And I yield to Him; I tip my face up to Him and it is as though I am breathing His breath- which we are, of course; each time we take a breath it is His breath- and then shyness overtakes me and I must look away. Or I feel the intensity of it fade away and then I really am just walking down a road, or washing dishes.

Except that I'm not. None of us really are. We won't know what we really are until we see Him as He is.

Once, I was thinking, yet again, longingly of Jesus- Jesus of Nazareth.

I'm no longer there, Jesus told me tenderly.

He is always telling me where He is or isn't! I wonder that He doesn't tire of it.

“I know,” I told Him, humbly. “You are the Risen Christ now. Your obedience was made perfect through suffering, but You are almost terrifying as the Risen Christ. For one thing, You are much harder to picture and know, there aren't many pictures of You now, in Heaven. But the Gospels are full of pictures of You then, so it's easier to relate to.”

I felt His loving understanding. He assured me that I could only know Him now as I did because He is the Risen Christ, and that one day, I would know Him far, far better.

I used to try filling up the longing for Him with broken toys. Even the stories and the characters that I made up in my head were only symbols.

I saw that so clearly, after Jesus had come, and as He taught me how to open my heart up to Him. I saw how everything else had been tipsy clay idols, made clumsily in His image and sitting deaf and mute in His place, in the center of my heart. It comforted me to realize that at least I had been trying to make them in His image.

It filled me with shame. It was as if I went off into a corner and threw a sack cloth over my head. But Jesus coaxed me out.

The pleasure of having the One for whom that place was truly made, come in and take it for Himself, is almost beyond expression.

I made you for Myself, He whispered to my heart, earlier this week.

And I was so caught up in some kind of misery and confusion that I hardly heard the words. I just pushed them aside, so that I could focus on my misery.

So, He said it again to me- I made you for Myself, He said.

Then I listened, but still the deep sorrow lingered.

You and I will never be done, Jesus whispered to me.

He says that sort of thing to me sometimes- the assurance that our relationship is eternal and that we will never be without each other.

It's morning now, and while I've been working on this, Jesus has been behind me, His arms wrapped around my shoulders, following along. It makes me feel shy to write about this as He is watching, but it pleases Him. Jesus likes when I rejoice in Him and His love. I like it must be like something delicious to Him.

I love how Peter calls Him "the Prince of life." That's been in my heart a lot lately. He is the very Prince of life, the Son of God, the Angel of Yahweh's Presence, sometimes I see Him called, in the Old Testament. He came forth from God and lives in the intimate presence of the Father- the bosom of the Father, and He is the image and likeness of the Father. And everything was made through Him and everything was made for Him.

Everything was made for Him, but He died in order to bring it back to Himself. He was made human, so that in all ways, He could be like His brothers, whom God gave Him.

The Son of God changed His own being! He was the Word of God, the very expression of God, and lived in the glory of God. And then He suffered Himself to be altered- He became incarnate- He took on human form. He became the Word incarnate, being wholly God and wholly human. And now He can intimately relate to each and everything we feel and experience. He did not hold Himself apart from us to any degree; on the cross He bore even the worst. That is how much He loves us and how incredibly valuable and important we are to Him.

He is humble! The Son of God is humble of heart. What an extraordinary thing. He is humble and He waits for the Father's timing and plan and purpose. He waits and when the time is right, He will hand it all over, along with Himself, back to the Father. And the Father will be all in all.

He created us to be curled up at His heart, in His arms. He did not die to create proper distance, but to eliminate it.