Friday, June 30, 2017

Count the Cost

March 16, 2013 Journal

I must finish up the photos for the adoption pamphlet and send them out today, so I have that to do, but I had to write a little bit first.

I’m still getting used to this, being with and loving God. It’s hard to write about and I feel shy often.

It’s like I’m feeling my way through a deliciously scented garden with my eyes closed. I have to move slowly, stopping to listen, always reaching forward and around to know where I am and where I should go. I don’t know if I should wait peacefully and Jesus will come, or if I should go looking for Him, or to call out for Him, even though I have the sense always that, in one way of looking at it, the garden is Him, so Jesus is already there and it is no use being self-conscious, even though this plagues me at every turn.

Usually, I end up letting myself just relax, which I think is a necessary stage after the first euphoria. Relaxing into a gift or an insight is a way to really claim it, in my previous experience. I would be thrilled to receive it, and then that feeling would pass away, leaving a kind of insecure anxiety, and then the anxiety would pass away, leaving peaceful security and a more lasting enjoyment of the gift.

But last night, I longed to be with Jesus, so I felt my way, shyly, toward that. And indeed, I fell into His presence, I found Him.

In case somebody might read this after I’m dead- I can’t imagine any other way of publishing something so personal, and I keep getting the feeling that I’m writing this out not just for my own benefit- anyway, the way that I fell into it was to let myself be in the moment. I rest quietly in trust of Jesus’ love. It’s like saying, I welcome You, Jesus. I’m Yours. And of course, Jesus was already there.

I’m not describing this well. Let me start over again.

So Jesus is already there; I can feel His feather light touch of spirit which is around me, as though He is taking me in His arms, and I’m sometimes falling into that by accepting with joy, and I’m sometimes stepping back, because in the same way that one can only drink so much water at a time, I can only sustain so much of His presence, and most of all, I am letting Jesus be God- that is, I’m not holding on to whatever He is doing in the one moment after it has passed, I’m letting it flow to the next moment. I release any effort to control.

It’s feeling one’s way moment to moment, letting the moment open up into what Jesus determines and giving back to Him in the space He leaves for that, in this kind of slow paced and gracious dance that happens partly as a result of my own shyness and wonder and feeling tentative, and partly just because He and I are indeed, at some level, two people- or, two individuals.

At a certain level, we’re one through His Holy Spirit, but we’re also two individuals, and so there is some adjusting which happens. If there wasn’t, how could it be a genuine, growing, living, intimate relationship? How could it be alive, otherwise?

So, I keep falling back and letting go and accepting Jesus as He wishes to be in that moment and then I was on the couch, in that inner room, only there were no walls and I could see the landscape, distantly.

Over and over again, I was simply just resting there with Jesus, feeling my heart melt out into Him, into peace, into wholeness, as I accepted that I was with Him. Again and again, I felt my heart melting into peace and rest. It was delicious. This sense of peace would pervade my entire spirit and also my physical body, which would sink into the mattress as I let out a long breath.

But I kept feeling both good and bad thoughts or feelings, and I kept being troubled by that, and then releasing my heart in confession, and I would relax into Jesus, the fear gone away, or be dissolved into Jesus, but then the uneasy feeling about my imperfections would come back.

Then I remembered how Jesus said, out of their good hearts they produce fruit with patience. I kept holding on to that, and resting and I stopped being anxious, knowing that somehow my new heart is a good heart, producing fruit with patience. I knew this was true, at a very deep level, because I am trusting Jesus, so it helped. So, I wanted to write that out.

Also, because I feel like I’m not perfect enough yet for this way of being with Him, sometimes I feel upset at Jesus because I dislike to see my imperfections in His presence. I wish that He had waited until I was perfect before bringing me this close to Him. But I remember that Jesus is often in this situation. That is, Jesus is often offering people things that are beyond them, encouraging them to take the next step, to let go a little more, to fall into Him a little deeper. He keeps on offering, so He’s always out on a limb like that. He’s just always holding the door open, or knocking at the door.

When Jesus says to us, follow Me, it means that He is one step ahead of what we are ready for, but we have to trust Him and take the step and know that we will grow up in the process of walking.

Now I really need to work on those pictures, though my anxiety is intense. But this too shall pass, and I won’t even hardly remember it, except when I read this over again and I will think, oh my goodness, yes, that. That was hard. Thank goodness I’m not there anymore.

(None of the pictures seemed good enough, but it turned out that it was the pictures that caused Merissa’s birthparents to choose us- in fact, it was the one picture that I had the most anxiety about that they were the most drawn to- a picture of Keith and I on an ATV. I thought, “What birthparents are going to choose people who go ATV riding as adoptive parents?” Well, as it turned out, the birthparents of our daughter, would be the answer to that question.)

March 17, 2013, Journal

So, I was lying in bed last night, thinking about other personality and character types that I don't understand very well and was getting caught up in judgmental thoughts, and all along, this is their character that Jesus gave them!

So I realized that was a silly and arrogant thing to do, to judge like that, and I let it go into the greater mystery of Him and said, “I’ll never understand this because You haven’t given me this gift,” or something, and as I spoke, it was as though Jesus turned and poured His love into me, because that’s what He does whenever I surrender something to Him, instead of trying to work it out on my own.

I was still talking as I was receiving all this love from Him and loving Jesus in return, and laughing, because His love was like a rushing river and full of joy and I said, “I’d like to, maybe You will let me learn this- maybe I will learn it in You- I will see that part of You, that aspect of You that their character reflects.”

Then I was resting in Jesus. I was leaning back against Him and His face was close to mine, and it was as if He reached out and with a gesture of His hand, drew up a memory before us as if it was on a screen. It was the way He had come to me that night after Christmas, in that powerful, vivid way.

Do you remember? He whispered fondly, like a loved one would say, when they are thinking back on memories of being together.

“Of course,” I said, warmly.

Would you like to know Me like that again?

“Well, I don’t know,” I said, feeling comfortable being honest and open. “It was unsettling and intense. It shook me up for a long time. It’s so nice like this, so relaxing, so calm… Wait…”

And then it was as if I sat up straight and turned to look at Him. “What are You saying, Jesus? Jesus? What are You are offering me right now? Are You really offering me this? Are you saying that I could know You again in a deeper, even more real and present and palpable way?”

Yes, Jesus said, but it will come at a cost. His voice was tender and loving, so I wasn’t afraid, but I certainly paused.

Then I had an understanding that was without words, but I simply understood that spiritual depth or insight or sight comes through refining and pruning, and those processes often are difficult and painful, and often require a loss of some kind.

And I remembered how this is reflected in the lives of all those that have had deep, living relationships with Jesus, and how Jesus Himself said that what happens to Him- that the Son of Man must suffer many things before coming into His glory, and how that happens to those that follow Him, and how faith is perfected through suffering.

So we discussed this for a little while, but it was hard to make the decision and I felt irritated at that.

“Why do You make me choose?” I asked Jesus. “Why can’t You just do it? Just do whatever needs to be done? Why do You make me choose?”

Then Jesus said that spiritual wisdom has to be agreed to; a person has to say yes to it, in order for it to be given. Otherwise, Jesus pointed out, everyone would be at the same level or depth of spiritual insight, because He would be pulling them all together, inevitably, but obviously that wasn’t so, because people said yes and no individually, leading to people being at all different levels of understanding.

So I saw how that was perfectly true. And I let myself rest there, in trust to receive. And it was as if I were resting in the night sky, but not exactly. I was just floating sort of in this vastness. It was huge and most of it was unknown and I was scared of the unknown, but I knew it was all in Jesus and that He was a good teacher and that I had trusted Him so far and that I did want more of Him, how could I say no to that, and that life is so short anyway, whatever I would experience, it would be for hardly any time at all and it would have such a rich, rich harvest later, at the end, so I might as well go deep, deep into the experience of true living.

So after some more pondering and talking with Jesus, I said, “Okay. I agree then, I accept. I want to learn this. I want what You’re offering. I want to know You deeper, more real, more present. Go ahead with that.”

Then, this morning, I read this online:

“And is this not what Jesus has done, and that to which He has led us? We see in Him the Eternal, full of unending glory and limitless joy, but almost immediately He begins to mention something else, an end in Jerusalem, and we find that in order to stay with Him and be where He is, we have to walk the road with Him that is leading headlong to the Cross. Nobody mentioned this!” –Frank Viola

March 18, 2013, Journal

A huge storm came rolling through; I stood outside on the front step and watching the layering of grey cloud, yellow and silver at the horizon, green and purple just over the room and the greying billows of trees as they bent and swayed, and bits of leaves came fluttering into view from over the roof behind me, spinning, glancing through the air. At first they looked like birds, winging through.

Jesus was next to me, He put His hand against my cheek. His love was pouring through me, as strong as the wind, but familiar like one’s own house, and good like bread and intoxicating like wine. It was familiar, to be caught up in love by God, in the middle of the storm, to know that I belong completely to Him and that He loves me.

That alone was extraordinary but then the clouds came sweeping over the sky and I lifted my head up and knew Jesus was moving there too, sweeping over the sky, and I wanted to be there, and I thought, maybe I would, one day, be there with Him.

And Jesus reminded me of how much I loved the wind, always moved by it and drawn to it, when I was younger. It seemed always to be a picture of something I longed for, some way of being, of relating.

And you have it now, Jesus said, because all along, it was a picture of belonging to Him.

And this sweeping feeling of fulfillment and wonder and longing and love just went through me, because it is true and I felt this rushing love of His stronger and sweeter than the wind.

March 2o, 2013 Journal

So last night, I longed for Jesus, and I felt comfortable asking to be with Him. I think because I had spent the entire evening around Him. We were sitting together on the couch, watching a show; it was very cozy. Later, I was thinking about how much I wanted to blog about how God loves to be vulnerable, and thinking about that filled me with love for Jesus.

So by the time I was resting, there was hardly any transition between my day and resting quietly in the peace of waiting for Him. I simply poured out love on Him, and I could see us in the room, only again there were no walls. I did not feel any anxiety about being with Jesus, because I felt secure in His love and Jesus is familiar to me now, so I could soak in His arms as comfortably as one rests in an easy chair. I just gave myself right over to loving Him. Jesus reminded me of that verse about how the girl goes after Him and holds on to Him and does not let go until she has Him, so it’s alright just to go to Jesus. I do not always have to wait to know He is there before searching Him out.

I could see Jesus’ face more clearly and He had a beard. This almost made being in His presence an overwhelming thing, because it made the fact that I was with Jesus Christ almost too much for me to accept- I have only so much faith yet and it’s not much faith. I almost wanted Jesus to go back to the way it was before, when I could hardly see His face at all.

But Jesus insisted that seeing Him this way was a gift, and it was a good gift and it was for me. So then I had to confess that I did like this gift very much, that gift of seeing Jesus that way, Jesus of Nazareth, beautiful Jesus, the Son of Man. And as I was accepting this, with a kind of abandoned surrender that was the most my faith could reach for, Jesus showed me His hands, and I saw the scars on them, not very clearly, but that was far too much. Sometimes being with Jesus is like I have a small teaspoon and someone is pouring gallons of water over it. But my sight was much clearer than it has ever been before, and it was intoxicating, to be with Jesus.

We went onto the grass. It’s all open space and I wanted to stay somewhere smaller, with more defined boundaries, so I asked Him if there was a garden, because I was remembering the gardens in the Songs. Immediately we were in a garden, but it was a kitchen garden, with rows of vegetables in soft loam behind a high, thick stone wall and I laughed so much. I most lovingly teased Jesus about bringing me to a kitchen garden. He does not mind this; He is full of such good humor.

But it was comfortable and almost delicious, because the soil itself was clean and rich and light. There were raised beds of maybe something like strawberries.

Then my longing for Jesus broke up and out, in this painful way, in a way that the spiritual experience I was having with Him couldn’t satisfy, because as wonderful as it is, it is not the fullness of being with Him and knowing Jesus. I kept seeing myself bent forward from this crippling, painful longing, and I went up into the sky, the night sky, as if I were trying to reach Jesus in every direction. I stretched out my arms and Jesus was face to face with me, His arms stretched out, hands palm to palm, and I wanted to melt into Him, to be melt into and disappear into Him, but I wasn’t able to do this and the longing would not abate.

And I kept telling Jesus that I loved, loved what He had given me already and I wanted it always, but I wanted more, I wanted the whole of Him, I wanted this almost crippling longing in me to be answered, healed, because it felt like I was severely wounded by longing and the wound would not heal except by being with Jesus in such a way that I was wholly in Jesus, which was the only way to be whole. I kept saying, I want, I want, want, want, want, want, want You.

And I knew then, or I had this glimpse, or I understood, that this kind of longing is met after death and in the deeper Life, in a way that I can’t reach through to now, except in snatches, but not fully. I can’t reach through to, now, or really fully understand it, except to long for it.

And then I was aware again of my physical being. Jesus was there, and I knew how much He loved me, and I loved to know this, even if this knowing was ephemeral compared to the wholeness that will come, even if I was still filled with longing. (It was at this time also that Jesus told me to remain fixed within my physical being and not attempt to leave it in search of Him. I don't know that I managed to do this, but I certainly was trying. But there was no need for that, because Jesus was living and is living in us, and so we need not try to leave His home and temple in order to try and find Him, so to speak.)

I was resting with Jesus, and we were talking about the night before, about how He had come to me without any warning, when my mind was completely on something else- I think I was reading, or lost in thought.

And how it had amazed me, taken me by surprise, and Jesus had pointed out to me that I should put aside those doubts now, the doubts that maybe I was making this happen because I long for Him. I should not think that anymore, because Jesus had poured His presence and love out to me without my having first even been thinking of Him at the time.

And so that settled that. As I was thinking about all this, Jesus helped me to understand that what He wants is a living relationship of love, and this means that each time we meet, it will be a little bit different, because there is no set form exactly, because He is not desiring a formula, but a relationship.

Which explains why sometimes when I am with Jesus, being with Him is like lying in the grass on a sunny day, and why sometimes it’s like being caught up in the current of a flood river and other times, down in the peaceful depth of the ocean. Jesus is a Person too, even though He is God, and He is alive, living.

I thought, wow, that makes sense! I couldn’t understand it all, but there’s no understanding this at a certain level, it’s just what it is. We don’t need to understand this in order to be in relationship to Him, to relate to Him in the natural, living progression of relationship.

So then I thought, my goodness, Jesus really sometimes wants to be with me! Sometimes He comes to me like a rushing wind; one moment, I am resting, the next moment I am taking this sudden breath of His presence, because we have that level of trust and understanding now, it’s been built up, so Jesus can come right to me and sweep me into His arms, and I recognize and welcome Him immediately, joyfully, because I know Him.

And sometimes, I long to be with Jesus, in which case, He lets me find Him. With great love, Jesus allows this, because He loves me and that is part of the relationship- it’s a mutual. It is a genuine relationship, which is alive.