Friday, December 30, 2016

Come Here By Me

March 1, 2012

It's raining; I can hear the soft sound of it outside the windows.

I love March. When I lived in New England, March was the month when spring was a private and personal affair. It had to be looked for. A person almost had to believe in it, in order to see it.

Down here in the South, spring goes public in March. In fact, spring has been announcing itself all last month- all through February, if you can believe it. Already, there are purple and yellow blossoms to be seen in the park.

Keith has mowed the back yard already and we're researching patio furniture sets on line and dreaming about the pool. He was unable to resist throwing a pool toy into the cart the last time we went shopping.

I've been thinking about a nursery these days. It's a soft thought, a tendril of hope, like the scent of lilacs that comes drifting through the open windows in late spring.

It's possible that I might need a nursery in this house, might decorate and stock one- with bits of soft clothing, like tiny, striped socks, little stretchy caps and lots and lots of ridiculously small diapers.

Who knows how long it would remain empty before it would be used. There's no telling. Who knows who might choose us as adoptive parents, or why. But it's out there, a possibility.

Whatever happens, I trust the One who keeps and carries me. He is all that I am to receive, and my cup, as David wrote so well.

March 2, 2012 Unpublished

Last night I was reading my new book, "The Weight of Glory," by C.S. Lewis. His deep reverence for God, comprised of both fear and longing, was obvious in every phrase and metaphor.

I became nervous, as I read along. I wondered how I dared be so familiar with God; it seemed so wrong. How dare I!

It came as a shock to me to remember that I hadn't learned that on my own. There was never a day when I thought, I would like to spend my entire day being carried in the arms of God,  let me go about making that happen.

Oh sure, I longed for it. But I never would have dared ask for it.

As a matter of fact, Jesus had to persistently and patiently coax me into accepting His love and affection. It took Him weeks of loving on me before I abandoned myself to Him. It was as though I had more regard for His dignity than He did.

He led me to texts that made clear His yearning and humble heart, His extraordinary love of us, His desire to carry us and be in close and authentic relationship to us.

When I insisted I wasn't perfect enough for Him, Jesus taught me that it was His work, that of making me perfect and acceptable. It's always His work.

No matter what protest I came up with, Jesus countered it- with Himself.

That story is written out in the blogs that I mostly didn't publish, from last fall.

I remembered again something which is probably perfectly obvious, but there it is. I realized that humility is really nothing more nor less than acceptance. It's simply saying, "Yes," and then falling into it without reserve.

Humility doesn't make us less than what we are, it makes everything that we are a gift.

Last night, I was thinking about life. I withdrew myself from the "heavenly music," as Amy Carmichael puts it, and planted myself on solid ground, in physical reality.

It was like standing in the marble hallway in Korea, where I taught my English classes. When the students were running or walking down it, the echoes were tumultuous- of their voices, their shoes. It was nothing but sound.

When the passage was empty, the remembered tumult deepened the present silence. It seemed, in the rare moments of quietness, to be impossibly still.

That's what the physical world was like when I lowered my head, and listened. There seemed to be nothing around me but the electric light, the frosted glass of the mirror, and the rush of water. It was impossibly still and I could still hear the echoes of His presence all around me.

I thought of the quiet March evening outside the walls of the house, damp and chill and the night sky and the planets and stars that swung through it at such vast distances.

I thought of the mysteries of birth and death; those thresholds to some place far beyond what we know, as though we stood only on the mere threshold of the rest of life itself.

In the silence and in the light of that perception, God seemed to be impossibly huge and unseen and beyond comprehension. He was large enough to encompass every physical thing stretched out to the limits of my perception, and human history as well, and each human heart.

Then it was as though my spirit were warmed. It was like watching water take on a glow of light.

I was warmed with the light of recognition. I knew again that this vast God, the only God, the Beginning and the End, has a name, a face, a human history- Jesus.

We don’t have to stare into the dark, impossible depths of eternity to see God. He is right next to us, with us, in us, all the time. God is recognizable, Jesus is with us and we with Him.

Is that not the most astonishing fact of all existence, of all life itself?

From eternity, God expressed Himself, and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word was with God from the beginning. His purely, fiercely overflowing creative love and desire for relationship are inherent in His very being, as expressed through the Trinity.

They made every other thing, and took great delight in doing so. This is our deepest origin; this is our beginning- we begin with a God whose very nature is to be in intimate relationship.

When I went to bed, I was still a little anxious, wondering if I was being irreverent toward God, by being so personal and so intimate with Him.

It did not help when I read in Deuteronomy how God audibly spoke to the people of Israel, and the leaders came forward and asked Moses to listen for them, lest they die, because they had heard the voice of God.

And God was very pleased with that!

I thought, what?

God was pleased that they should withdraw from Him?

But then I couldn't help but notice what He says to Moses:

"But you [Moses], stand here by Me... ."
-Deuteronomy 5:31a

And I thought of the verse at the end of that book:

"And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face..."

And yet, Jesus declares John the Baptist to be the greatest prophet.

After all, Moses might have seen God face to face, but John knew God as his cousin. They might have played together as children. John baptized the Son of God.

In the same passage, Jesus declares that the least in the Kingdom of God is greater even than John.

Think about that, for a moment! Your intimacy and position with God is greater even than Moses.

Or, what God said to Moses, "But you, stand here by Me," He says also to you now.

In fact, what He says to us is- you are already seated with Me in the heavenly places- your life is hidden in My life.

No wonder the least in the Kingdom of God is greater!

I was reading along and, I felt Jesus draw near and settle in beside me.

Oh, how joyfully I welcomed Him! How relieved I was to feel again His close, loving presence, after all my anxieties.

In my spirit, I wrapped my arms around Him and held Him tightly, and Jesus breathed on me, and I curled up and nestled in. I yielded to His presence and to His possession.

Then I was anxious all over again, it swept through me, this knowledge of my human imperfections.

I make you fit for Me, Jesus said firmly.

And in joy and relief, I leaned my whole self on Him and into Him, for Jesus is the Rock of my salvation, and on Him do I lean and in Him I take refuge. There is no other Rock.

I am getting more able to calling Him Husband. I'm growing into it.

Earlier that day, I had been leaning against the back of the couch, watching TV. I watched how one young lady was vibrant and beautiful on the show. She shone on the stage. It was as though she was born to be there, it was as though it were her element.

And I thought, how wonderful, how marvelously that speaks of the glory and splendor and brightness of God, that He should also create a daughter who reflects Him in that way! Her nature came from His; she was created in His image, and her talent is His gift to her.

I felt Jesus come softly up behind me. I felt Him wrap His arms around my waist and put His head close to my ear. In loving welcome, I leaned against Him. His tender love and tender good humor soaked into me.

Do you want that? Jesus lovingly asked. (I think He asks this because He wants us to become aware of what is in our hearts. He already knows.)

"No," I answered immediately, warm and secure in Him. "I love who You made me to be. I want only You."

March 3, 2012 Sorrow Within Embrace

As soon as I woke up this morning, I felt Jesus take me in His arms. I felt His love soak into me.

"Hello!" I said, in surprise.

I thought about how we would have guests today, and wondered if it was going to be maybe a rough day.

"You will be with me," I said, with confidence. "I can do nothing without You."

I read something that threw me off a little. I felt weird, like a weird person, and I remembered that article about hyper-sensitive personality types, and how that comment probably wasn't even about me and yet had affected me, and as I remembered this, Jesus leaned down and wrapped His loving arms around my shoulders. I leaned back against Him in sudden relief.

"You made me this way," I remembered. "I am safe in You."

Last night, as I rested in His loving presence, my thoughts drifted around and at one point they drifted to the sexual abuse.

A line of thought I don't normally dwell on drifted in- that of my being the unprotected one, the unloved one by God. Others were kept safe by Him, were allowed to keep their innocence, but I was not. I was not protected.

Normally, lately, I feel a sense of encompassing gratitude when I consider my abuse. Because I have a small sketch of how extraordinarily it will be transformed by Jesus at the end of this life, I am very grateful for it, because of the glory it will bring to Him.

I will be a living story, a living light and testament to His grace and glory and healing and redemption. Not the brightest- others suffered a hundred times worse in this life than I, but still, a very good story.

However, last night, I couldn't quite reach that place of understanding. I was caught in the sorrow of being left on the outside, in the dark, unprotected, not the cherished one. Naturally, I felt the tender love and concern of Jesus as He held me close.

I held myself very still in His close, loving presence. I dwelled and rested in it. I let my sorrow and sadness seep out into Jesus. I was just in the moment and in Him. He took all my sorrow and sadness, Jesus was with me in those emotions, I wasn't alone in feeling them, He felt them with me.

After a while, I felt my sorrow grow lighter, and I was aware only that I was in His arms.

March 3, 2012

Yesterday was such a deliciously windy day.

It started out with solid cloud cover, but by ten thirty, the clouds were breaking up and moving fast across the sky. I went out to check on the garden and was immediately enamored of the weather.

Shortly thereafter, I was out for a walk. Things did not go smoothly though. For one thing, my ankle socks kept creeping down into the heel of my sneakers.

I tell you what, there is no hindrance to a wonderful time of worship so effective as a slipping sock. Eventually, I had to stop and laugh, and retie my sneakers. My hair, by the way, is long enough that when I am bending forward to tie my laces, the ends of it got caught up in the knot.

I cut the walk short and headed home. The house seemed impossibly stuffy and stale and I threw open as many windows as I could. All day long the wind moved sweetly through the house.

Last night I finished Amy Carmichael's devotional. I have a sincere and warm appreciation of her, and a sense of recognition.

I have moved on to my next book, The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis, but that is much slower going and sometimes I can't grasp his point. I can only read a small amount, and then must put it down and think it through.

His longing and deep reverence for God come through at every turn. I read this and thought it quite beautiful:

"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things- the beauty, the memory of our own past- are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they will turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."
-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

March 5, 2012 Unpublished

I walked; I sank into Jesus like the warm sunlight on my face. I remembered the night before, falling into Him, into the truth that I am hidden in Him, seated beside Him in the heavenly places.

And over and over again last night, it was made real to me, so real that it swept over my soul like a flood of light- I was with Jesus- right then, right there! I was on His lap, in His arms. I could say everything I wanted to say, I could pour out my soul to Jesus, face to face.

"I love you, I love you, I love you!" I cried, throwing my arms around His neck. And it was as though, from the corner of my eye, I saw His face, the curve of His smile and His beard.

It astonished me. I never think of Jesus as wearing a beard, even though I know He did have one, because it is written that they pulled it out. Even when, in my astonishment, I withdrew from Him, I felt His hand cradling the back of my head.

Even when it was so much that I could not sustain it, and sank back to the bed (this was a spiritual movement), I was upheld by Jesus. I knew that it was more true that I was upheld by Him, than by the bed I was physically lying on.

Over and over again, it hit me: I am with Jesus. Right now, right here, in this moment. It does not matter what I can see around me. The deepest truth is that I am with Him all the time, bound up with Him and able to speak with Him everything that is on my heart.

At several points during my walk, my joy at remembering how close Jesus was, how available, filled my eyes were tears, and I had to pull them back in, because I didn't want to end up crying on the side of the road again, in a compelling mixture of joy and longing.

I was walking and I felt Jesus come up behind me and toss me up into the air and instead of drawing back, I leaned into it and it was as though I were not just caught up in the air as one does with a child, a joyful toss, but as though I were caught up by wings.

It was as though I were soaring through the air and I almost faltered from the rush of it, then I remembered the verse, they shall renew their strength, they will rise up on eagle's wings.