Friday, January 20, 2017

He Has Gone On Ahead

March 11, 2012

I've been restless these days.

Maybe it's spring fever.

I've been keeping the house cleaner than I have in months; a dish barely touches the bottom of the sink before it gets washed and I've almost run out of wood cleaner for the floors.

I keep wanting to buy things- a patio set, with a rug and an umbrella, and plastic glasses with yellow lemons printed on them.

Instead, I gave Keith the green light to buy a new lawn mower and two minutes later his boots were on his feet and he was out the door, on his way to purchase one.

It was the more practical purchase anyway. He had to start his old mower with a pair of pliers, and the lawn was already getting shaggy looking.

He returned with a Toro mower equipped with a Honda engine, which, I was informed, is the cream of the crop in terms of push mowers.

So as you can guess, the lawn looks very nice right now and all yesterday, I could faintly smell cut grass through the open window. I caught him lovingly polishing the engine with a rag.

At Wal Mart, they had a sale on baby items. I stood in front of the stand for the fliers and looked at the cribs and baby seats.

"Look! A sale on baby stuff!" I informed Keith, when he appeared with our cart.

"We don't even know the age of the kid we'll be matched with," Keith cautioned gently, still thinking in terms of international adoption.

"It'll be a newborn," I reminded him. "The birth mother will choose us while she's still pregnant."

When someone chooses us, which is months and months away. It's tempting to start slowly buying stuff for a nursery, just to have it ready- but it's too early to start that.

I feel like I'm waiting on everything.

Despite my restlessness, it's clear to me that Jesus wants me to continue on in this quiet waiting place.

I've been in this quiet waiting place now for about a year or even longer, if one considers my time in Kentucky to be waiting. I think it was. I was just then entering into it kicking and wailing and angry.

At that time I could not know it, but God was pulling me into the quietness that comes after grief in order to meet with me in a deeper way than He had before.

I watched a sermon by Henry Nouwen and in it, he said that, like the bread Jesus held in His hands, we are taken, we are blessed, we are broken and we are given.

We are broken before we are given.

Last night, I think it was, I was caught by the line in the last chapter of Matthew: "He has gone ahead of you into Galilee."

I thought of Jesus on that solitary journey, newly resurrected. I wondered if He had been filled with joy at everything He saw as He walked along- freed from the burden of His Passion, everything new and fresh and full of light. Almost as though everything that He had declared good at the beginning was so deliciously good all over again.

In that same gospel, the two women see Him and He says to them, "Rejoice!" (Though it's interesting to me that it's in the New King James Version that His greeting get translated this way. Others have Him saying "Peace be with you," or simply "Hail!")

I had a dream like that a few days ago. I dreamed of His death and burial. In the dream, I found myself on a path, a grassy path on a hillside.

Earlier in the dream, I had been running down that path, full of shame, and finding torn pieces of my wedding gown alongside it. I kept gathering them up in my arms, in horror, hoping against hope that I would still be acceptable for the sincerity of my heart.

Now in the dream, I found myself on the path again, only I didn't have time to worry about what I was wearing, because I saw Him, alive, walking down the path. I knew it was Jesus. I knew He had risen from the dead.

I went running to meet Him and He opened His arms to me. He was so full of joy. He knew me.

"Is this My little one?" Jesus said, laughing.

When I woke, I re-lived that moment in the dream over and over again- that moment of mutual recognition and joy.

It's an astonishing thought, isn't it, that we can bring Him pleasure of any kind? That it is possible for us, as C.S. Lewis puts it:

"To please God... to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness... to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in his son- it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is."

-The Weight of Glory

So it is.

March 12, 2012 Unpublished

I saw this verse in one of the blogs I read:

"Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you."

This verse has been in my head a lot lately, especially this part: I have made, and I will bear...

A couple times lately, Jesus has said to me, I created you.

And at first, I didn't understand why He was emphasizing that so much.

Then, I realized that He is taking responsibility for me: I am His creation, His work.

He is reorienting me to my deepest origin, which is Himself. It humbles and exalts at the same time, because I can boast of nothing, and yet I am given everything. Everything that I am is a gift, and I belong completely to Him.

All my flaws are temporary things, but even more than this, they are also are gifts and my greatest teachers. The flaw which bothers me the most has the greatest potential for growth.

This is the thing I have been learning, but I haven't learned yet how to put that in practice. I know one thing though; to get value out of my flaws, kicking against them does not work. That's an exercise in futility.

The flaws that I notice the most are a lack of faith, a lack of mercy, a lack of charity, a lack of humility. Another words, distrust, judgment, selfishness and ego driven thoughts.

Sometimes I get angry at Jesus.

"Clearly I can do nothing about these flaws!" I tell Him. "If it were up to me, I would have destroyed them by now! I would have cleared them out! Obviously, I can't do that! Only You can do that, and for some unfathomable reason, You aren't! So this is Your fault! Why won't You get rid of these already? Why do You make me live in the middle of this? Why won't You heal my soul? Why is it taking so long? Gah!!"

But He is the One who calls the things that are not, as though they were.

He says, "You are finished," when clearly I am a work in progress and all my dust has not settled.

Sometimes I hand Jesus a fault -a thought or emotion- that I do not want. I hand it over to Him, and not only does it go away, but I feel Him take my hand in His, a firm, warm and loving grip.

What He is saying is, you are Mine. Even as you are, you belong to Me.

It makes me marvel, and the warmth of His love dissolves the tight bands of shame that had wrapped me round and constricted my heart.

Last night, I felt His love and closeness. This was so delicious that I did not even want to pursue the line of my thoughts, I threw my thoughts away. I rested quietly in Jesus.

It was as though I were curled up on His chest, like a kitten, like a small one, with my head on His shoulder, or it was as though I lay under the shadow of His wings, or under the palm of His hand. I was warmly surrounded and upheld and cherished by Him.

"You made me for Yourself," I reminded Him, happily.

I made everyone for Myself, Jesus said lovingly.

This thought did not diminish my experience of being loved completely by Him. I thought it might, that I might feel crowded by the inclusion of every other person, but instead, as I thought about it, it did something different.

It made me feel more secure. My God would never make throwaway people, He cares deeply, definitively, about all the work of His hands.

He doesn't love by grades. There’s no caste system, there are no special favorites. Everyone is loved to the very fullness of love. Everyone is delighted in.

"I am surrounded by love!" I told Him in wonder. "I am rich! I am a cherished woman! I am surrounded by love." This thought kept coming back to me, as I wondered over it, how it was that I was delighted in and loved.

"I am Your girl," I said to Jesus, and paused to try and ponder something. In the pause and before I could complete my thought, Jesus said- you’re My sister, My spouse.

My thoughts stumbled at this, at how ridiculously young I was to be such a thing, in terms of spiritual growth, maturity, strength, perfection I was.

"But..." I said to Him weakly. I reached out to Him, for confirmation.

You know that you are, Jesus assured me, reminding me of everything He had taught me.

"But to be Your spouse means I must be grown up," I said nervously. "And I'm not... but... I will be!" I finished, realizing it.

In thinking about being His own entirely, I realized how possessive and protective Jesus was, and how close He always was, watching over me and guiding and teaching me. But then it seemed so strange that Jesus would put anything He cherished so much down here, and not kept safe in Heaven.

"But why would You leave Your own down here, in this place?" I asked Him honestly.

But as soon as I said that, I felt bad. I remembered that He had created this world in order to be inhabited- He created this world specifically as our setting.

And I remembered what Jesus had said to me before, that He put me here for transformation- to be finished, to be deepened, to be tried like silver. I felt Him listening and loving me as I thought through this.

"Well," I amended, "You made this place for us, and I am here for perfection, for transformation, for the humbling of the soul, all these things."

In that moment, I felt afraid, thinking of the necessary pain of this.

I will never leave you, Jesus assured me, and I finished the thought for Him- “… nor forsake me!" I finished, reassured.

March 13, 2012 Unpublished

The sky is slowly turning this weird yellowish green as I write. I keep forgetting that we still live in tornado alley.

Last night I realized it's been six months since I decided one day to read the gospel of John. Such an impulsive decision, and it changed the entire atmosphere of my life.

Some of it I haven't exactly enjoyed, like the blogging.

Maybe people think that I'm making all this up, so I can feel better about myself because I can't have children, or something. Maybe they think I'm straight off my rocker. This still makes me feel badly from time to time.

But what can I say? I would be lying if I had said it hadn't happened, and as it is, I only share a small percent of how I know Jesus and the lessons He's taught me.

And it's not like I'm the only person who hears His voice. In fact, I'm following a few blogs written by other young women who also are struggling with infertility, who hear the quiet and loving voice of Jesus.

I kid you not. It is true. It makes me wonder.

Last night I was thinking about this- about how weird I must seem- how bizarre, how out there.

You are Mine, Jesus replied firmly.

It made me laugh: Great. And that's exactly why I’m weird!

March 14, 2012 Unpublished

Last night, I thought of our birth mother, that unknown woman whose life will forever after be entwined with ours, our fates joined together. My heart went out to her as though she were my sister. I knew He is close her, as He is to me.

I remember when I was seventeen or eighteen, and feeling with a kind of certain dread that God would deny me children- that I would be infertile.

I thought Jesus would do this because I wanted children more than anything else and I figured He would take away my deepest desire so that, through the suffering, I would be drawn even more deeply and completely into Him.

Can you imagine? I can't make this stuff up.

That's why I was so angry at Jesus in Kentucky. I thought, "How dare He actually do that? How could He do that to me, on top of everything else?"

Now, what can I say?

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus asks people, "What do you wish?" or "What do you want Me do to for you?"

He asks this a lot, and people are not shy about stating their desires. They tell Him.

I thought about that. I thought, "Jenny, what do you want in life?"

To be a mother was such a deep desire that I could not articulate it, but it was a part of me, as it always is. I also thought, vaguely, about getting a story published, one that would speak to other people.

Then I imagined myself calling to Jesus, as Blind Bartimaeus did, from the side of the road. I thought of Him standing still and calling to me and I thought of myself going to Him, and Jesus asking me, "What do you want?"

I knew there was only one answer I would ever give to that question. I knew that I would throw myself down at His feet, hold on for dear life, and pour out my desire without reserve:

"Entreat me not to leave You, or to turn back from following after You; for wherever You go, I will go; and wherever You lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and Your God, my God.

"Where You die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts You and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

That verse:

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart," (Psalm 37:4) looks differently to me now.

It seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy. When He comes, how could I not delight in Him? And in so doing, how could my heart's desires be anything but for more of Him?

So then that verse became like a spiral stair that winds right into the heart of God. It takes me right past all the other things that at one time seemed so captivating, so necessary.

Not that I won't ever have them. Sooner or later I will become a mother, and it is quite possible that a book of mine will get published at some point in my life. But they are not at the deepest heart of me.