Friday, December 2, 2016

You are Mine

February 10, 2012

Well, reading C.S. Lewis caused my longing to flare up again, but I have managed to let the feeling flow out into the moment, like emptying buckets of water.

It led to some exquisitely painful moments of awareness of my life in that exact moment, and- if my metaphor were not a metaphor, some very soggy ground- but then the moment passed and the longing ebbed into a willingness to be quietly obedient in exactly what I'm doing.

I receive these little "Daily Meditations" from Richard Rohr's website and yesterday, he was talking about the need to live without an answer, and without resolution. He suggested that the ability to live in the question -or the mystery- is important to spiritual growth.

That sure resonated with me. We know there is an answer, but rushing to find it ourselves may cheat us of learning it well, or learning something equally important in the process.

(For a long time, Jesus taught me how to rest, how to heal and how to be patient in growing through many of Richard Rohr's writings, but at a certain point, my path in following Jesus veered away from those writings. It was like having a branch pruned off in one swift cut.

However, five years ago, Jesus used the wisdom and compassion of Richard Rohr to speak healing into my life at a point when I needed it, and that fact is shown in these published and unpublished blog entries.

What I am sharing with you is my personal experience; please seek the Lord and ask Him to give you wisdom in which parts of my testimony might be useful or good for you in your walk with the Lord Jesus.)

I was finishing up "Till We Have Faces," and came across this:

"No one will believe this who has not lived long and looked hard, so that he knows how suddenly a passion which has for years been wrapped round the whole heart will dry up and whither. Perhaps in the soul, as in the soil, those growths that show the brightest colours and put forth the most overpowering smell have not always the deepest root."

Horror filled my soul!

I thought fearfully, "My passion for Jesus is shallow! It must be, because it has a bright show! Therefore, it has no roots! It will pass away, it must. C.S. Lewis has all but said so. Oh my goodness, how will I keep Him, how can I keep Him?"

I'm making slight fun of myself here, but in the moment, it was a real fear.

You don't keep Me- I keep you, Jesus said firmly, into my whirling thoughts, and they all became still and calm.

"Right," I said, relieved and much more quietly. "That's right. I forgot that. You've kept me all this time. And my growth in You has been over almost the entire length of my life; it can't be that my roots are shallow after all that."

After that, I was able to finish the book without any further mishap. It's a great book.

Now I'm on to Waters on a Starry Night, by Elisabeth Ogilvie, which is also a great book, but in a much more undemanding way.

February 10, 2012, Published later that day

(This is what I didn't have the courage to post, the first time around.)

Reading Till We Have Faces also stirred up all my wonder at the presence of Jesus in my life.

I spent many hours yesterday thinking back through everything that has happened and everything that He has said to me. When I wrote even a tenth of it down, it made an extraordinary story of love and faithfulness.

Richard Rohr, in Hidden Things, writes:

"In a sense, the Christ is always too much for us. He's always "going ahead of us into Galilee" (Matthew 28:7). The Risen Christ is leading us into a future for which we're never, ever, ready. Only little by little do we become capable of mutuality, of communion, of pure presence."

Jesus has been teaching me this- He's been completing a lesson He began long ago.

When I, as a young teen, was up in the tower, begging for the appropriate love of Jesus, which I knew I lacked, Jesus reversed the whole game, and poured His love out on me. My resentment, terror and guilt was transformed by pure gift.

It sent me out into the dark, sacred night to leap with joy over the grass. No matter what happened in my life afterward, I could not unlearn that lesson.

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I felt Jesus come up and put His arms around me and rest His head against mine. I felt, as I so often do, His loving possession of me. It is as though I am enfolded into His love.

I had to stand still for the wonder of it. Is it even humanly possible to take such things for granted, or to get used to experiencing them? The Prince of life, as Peter called Him- the very Son of God, demonstrates His love for me in such a way that I cannot avoid or deny or escape the knowledge of it.

"You are still here," I said, in a small voice.

Aren't I always here? He replied.

Jesus always is, but there are times when I feel His love so strongly that I almost forget to breathe, and I must take a long, deep breath, and that breath settles me even more deeply into Him.

It got me thinking about mysteries, which made my head hurt.

I hold all mysteries, Jesus said firmly, His voice coming swiftly and quietly.

Because the deep things belong to God.

All those years that I was being broken and healed, almost by the same strokes, I made myself little images to sit in His place. I made them all in Jesus' image, because I longed for Him -I could not unlearn the lesson of His love- but I could not look Jesus in the face.

So I created relationships that were real and stories that I made up. But all they really were, were small tokens of wistful longing in a large, echoing space within me that was made only for the Son.

I didn't realize this until Jesus Himself came, and then I realized the smallness of those symbols, how deaf and mute they were, sitting all topsy-turvy in His seat. The presence of Jesus eclipsed them in a moment.

All it took was one glimpse of Him, and I wrote this:

"I wanted to be in the crowd, so I could go running to Him and throw myself into His arms and I say, I see You! I see You! I belong to You! I'm Yours!"

And not only did Jesus hear this, but He actually caught me up in His arms and all the former things were no more.

But when I remembered them, I was so ashamed. It was as though I went off into a corner and threw sackcloth over my head. Jesus had to patiently coax me out, time and time again.

Jesus had to teach me how to receive His love, because I had been programmed only to earn it.

He had to make everything new, and yet, each time I recognized the truth, it was as though, in some part of me, I had always known it.

The God of my salvation taught me very well and very patiently how to receive His love, so now I give myself over to Him. Now, when Jesus comes, I yield- I surrender to the knowledge that I am breathing His own breath, that my life is hidden in Him, and that He loves me beyond anything I can imagine or earn.

It's kind of like this:

"O Lord, You will give us peace, for You have done all our works for us.

O Lord our God, other lords than You have ruled us, but Your name alone is the One we honor.

They are dead, and will not live.

Their spirits will not return.

So You have punished and destroyed them.

You have caused them all to be forgotten."

-Isaiah 26:12-14

February 11, 2012 Aftermath of Blogging

I had to call my mom yesterday, before I could post that second piece. I'd been working on it for at least a day, if not more and still couldn't post it.

I cried out to Jesus in a sort of wordless jumble and remembered that there was a cutoff point. So I went and cut the blog in two, and only posted the first half.

But I knew that was only temporary- the other half was still on my mind.

So I called Mom. We talked for a while and then I asked her the thing that was on my heart- about my blog, did it help her, when I wrote about Jesus, did it do good things for her, or bad things, maybe? Because that's what I always worry about.

Her voice completely changed; it grew soft and almost girlish. "Yes," she said, almost shyly. "It opens my heart up."

Jesus keeps telling me that this is what He uses my blog for, but I so resist this idea. For months now, He's been telling me this.

Way, way back at the beginning, I was talking to Mom about exactly the same thing, and I was in tears about it.

"Why is He like this with me?" I asked her, urgently. "What if talking about it only makes people feel badly? What if it's like I'm showing off?"

Mom suggested that Jesus has an especially tender place in His heart for wounded people, and I agreed that it sounded probable, but then that wasn't fair. What about people that weren't wounded?

When I bring this up to Jesus, as I have, over and over again, He tells me pretty much the same things.

First, He tells me that not everyone wants Him as close as I want Him.

I understand, rationally, that this is true, but I still find it hard to believe. I don't understand why they wouldn't. The only reason I can think of is that they've got the wrong idea about Jesus and are therefore frightened or ashamed.

Another thing Jesus tells me is that every one's walk with Him is different and everyone is at different places in that walk. Everyone has a way of fellowshipping with Him that is uniquely their own, and He is the one responsible both for creating them and for perfecting their faith, which is uniquely theirs- unlike anyone else's.

Still, I have a hard time blogging about how He is with me. Jesus reminds me of the passages, let him who boasts, boast in that they are coming to know Me, and, we are not keeping secrets, but telling them, but still I resist.

No matter what Jesus tells me, I have a hard time with sharing my experiences with Him. It makes me wonder if, after all, many people experience Jesus this way, but we are all so meek and shy and quiet that we all have a very hard time talking about it.

Yesterday, after I called Mom, I asked Jesus again- did He want me to publish that other part, and before I had even completed the question, He said, You know this.

I know, I said, resigned. Because I did know.

So, I went and hit post and then I saw the little calendar, which I had already read, but had meant nothing to me earlier.

It said this: "We boast in the Lord our God... We will rise up and stand firm." Psalm 20:7-8

Isn't that amazing? I laughed out loud. I looked at it many times, throughout the afternoon and evening. And, as so often happens, I felt His love even more clearly and warmly.

I constantly felt Jesus with me, putting His arms around me, holding my face in His hand, putting His face close to me, or putting His arms around my shoulders and resting His head close to mine.

Everywhere I went, Jesus was there. I felt a little drunk on it.

"Why did You put me in this life, so far from You for such a long time?" I asked Him, in the night.

For a good purpose, Jesus replied immediately. To be transformed, perfected, refined- He didn't use one word, just the concept, which sort of held all those ideas.

He seemed to imply that I knew this already, but He was not impatient with me, just loving and reminding me that I knew the purpose.

Because all this suffering and distance and trial and longing gets transformed into something incredibly beautiful on the other side, so it is good for us.

Jesus told me once that when He is finished with me, I will be glorious on the other side, in Heaven, but I refused to consider it, because it was too much for me. Even though it's all His work anyway, so whatever is good in me is all from Him and gives glory to Him.

"I have no good thing apart from You," I tell Jesus frequently, and "All that is good in me is from You."

You worship the Father just by being, Jesus once assured me, on one of our walks.

I was listening to the Hallelujah chorus and I was too worn out to be caught up in the joy of it. I had grown enough into Jesus to know that this was fine, but still, I explained to Him, and that is what He said to me.

It took me only a moment to realize this was true. Because I am His creation, so my existence does worship Him. Even more so, my new life in Christ, the fact that I am a new creation, that gives a lot of glory to the Father, because it shows forth His plan and His power and His grace and His love. My very existence in Jesus is to the glory of God.

This morning, I checked my blog and only maybe four people read it.

"Only us chickens," I said to Jesus, cheerfully, because that is our little joke. Well, it is my joke and I share it with Him and He shares it with me because He knows me and loves me dearly.

But then, horrible doubt crept in and I felt condemned for writing about Jesus- for showing off! Puffing myself up! Using Jesus for my own purposes! Driving people away!

Blah, blah, blah. All this horrible stuff.

Fear gripped me with all of these thoughts- that I should never have written it. I should keep my mouth shut. I was wrong about everything. I am writing on holy ground, as it were and I have taken it in vain. Woe! Woe is me!

Blah, blah, blah.

And Jesus was behind me and He leaned down and put His arms around my shoulders and He was near. I felt His wordless and strong assurance that I had been obedient to Him in posting my blog and that He had a purpose for it and I recognized that He had been telling me this all night.

But the fear was still all around me. Sometimes I have a choice; lean into Jesus, or lean into the fear.

Trust, I told myself, almost desperately. Trust Jesus.

And I flipped the calendar and it said this:

"He will not let you stumble and fall; the One who watches over you will not sleep."
-Psalm 121:3

Is that not wonderful? Is that not so marvelously a testimony to His incredible love and faithfulness?

Indeed, it is.

David must have felt somewhat as I do, because he wrote this:

"You have hedged me behind and before,
and laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it."
-Psalm 139:5-6

That is like Jesus telling me that all mystery is in Him, when I wondered about how He was with me. David must have given up wondering about it as well, and given it over to Him.

Last night, I discovered this psalm again:

"Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.

I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.

Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.

Those who desert him will perish,
for you destroy those who abandon you.

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
-Psalm 73:21-28

Last night, I was saying to Him, my Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine...

But He reversed it, and impressed it upon me so strong.

You are Mine, Jesus said, with such authority and finality. It is you that are Mine. I am the One that has you.

Far, far more true it is, that I am His, than He is mine.

Because first, I am His. That is always first and almost most true, because He created me.

The only reason why Jesus is mine, is because I was created to be His.

That is why His desire is toward me. Because I was first and foremost His possession, His portion, His thought, His expression, His own work. As He said to me, He made me for Himself, and He and I will never be done. Our relationship is an eternal one.