Friday, June 9, 2017

Draw Me After You

February 23, 2013 Journal

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and couldn’t sleep, and Jesus was beside me and I fell into the knowledge that I’m not so much there in the physical room, as I am with Jesus in a larger spiritual realty, in the way that He taught me in different ways before- the room that He showed me when He said there was a place for me, and the time that He held me in His arms and then I fell from there to the bed and I could feel both at the same time- both the physical bed and His embrace, knowing that He still held me, that He always did.

I was tired. I wanted to go back to sleep, and I remembered Jesus sleeping in the fishing boat and how deeply that has always moved me, and my heart leapt up because, now of course, I am with Him and I can go to Him.

And I knew His pleasure also at my freedom be with Him there in the boat, in the sun, on the quiet water, and but the intensity of being with Jesus, even in that way which is outside of or beyond history, was so great that it was overwhelming, and I could not remain with Him. It was too much to accept.

So I fell back into the moment, where I was physically. I just let myself be where I am, which is on several levels at once, because even when I remind myself of where I am physically, and bring it deliberately to mind, I still know that Jesus is with me, and this perception is a sense of great space which is focused at the same time, because it’s all in Him or He is all in it.

Then I remembered the room Jesus showed me, so I went there, and that, that was better, because that’s our room and I did not feel as if I were disturbing anything or anyone by being there, because He gave it to me, and I can be at home with Him in that room.

There was a couch there and we curled up on it. I kept letting myself be- that is, I kept resting my whole spirit in what was being given, which was Jesus’s presence. I had to choose this trust deliberately, moment by moment, by saying, Yes, I will accept this, yes, I will accept this gift.

Then I became shy and found myself on the side of the room. This is hard to describe, because what I’m seeing is something that is participatory- sometimes I’m receiving the image that Jesus is giving me of Himself, and sometimes I’m giving. That is, sometimes Jesus is giving me an image, and I receive it, and in receiving it, give back to Him the response of my heart.

In any case, I had been seeing Jesus on the couch and had been curled up in the curve of His arm, but His face I could hardly see at all, and then suddenly I wasn’t seeing that, I was seeing the whole room from the vantage point of the far wall and I was kneeling down there, as if overwhelmed and trying to make myself as small as possible, which I was, because it had suddenly hit me that I was with the Lord Jesus Christ, and I had no idea how that was possible and the fear of doing something wrong or offending Him, or maybe I wasn't supposed to be there at all- all this was almost crippling, because I didn't know what would be the right thing to do.

Then I saw Jesus walk toward me, only He wasn’t walking, it was a still picture of Him coming toward me. It was very interesting, this image, because it did not change, but I knew what it meant. Jesus was showing me that He was coming to comfort and retrieve me because He loves me. I saw it for a long time- these are almost like dream images, in the way that they either hold still for a long time, or suddenly transition. I waited for Jesus to come, and then this image changed and I saw He was bending down to me, holding out His hand. I couldn’t see Him, just His hand. I saw this for a long time- until I could accept it, and then I was with Him on the couch again.

Despite this choppiness and the sudden moments of doubt and fear, I enjoyed so much being with Jesus and being able to pour out love and joy and adoration and all this that is without words- being able to pour this out to Him, and to know His love.

Yesterday, I was thinking about my insight into using faith, hope and love as guiding principles for my choices of how to express my unique personhood in life and then I suddenly wondered if that wasn’t the absolute best way, if maybe there was an even deeper, better way.

Then I was confused, because if there’s a better, deeper way, I don’t know it yet. So then I saw in my mind like a giant curve of a constellation of stars or a map of stars, with points all along, and I put my finger on the point where I was, and I said firmly, “This is where I am right now, and it’s okay to be where I am. Everyone must be where they are at until they learn a new way.”

And as I was thinking this, I felt Jesus come rushing down and pull me into His arms and right into the rushing heart of His outpouring love- He was overjoyed because I had chosen trust over anxiety. I remember this sort of intense spiritual experience from before, at times so intense and personal that my first, unthinking reaction was to reject His love. It was a difficult struggle to believe that Jesus might feel that much for me.

I remember that first time, perceiving His presence not as a cloud above me, but how Jesus seemed to be right beside me, His head close to mine. I went rigid and still with shock and disbelief; like, this cannot be happening, this cannot be right, what is going on with me?

But I knew Jesus so well! All my life I’ve felt His presence, so I knew who it was, I just had never, ever felt Him so up close and personal like that before.

Even then, I questioned it, and that is when I felt the deep scarring that lay along His back. I have never since felt that. But I remember how, the first time I dared to throw my (spiritual) arms around Him, I felt, even through the fabric of His robe, something that felt like some awful and frightening gouges and ridges.

I got dropped into terror, just absolutely terrified at what could possibly be happening; it was like free fall for one moment or maybe two until suddenly it clicked, that this texture was on His back, that I’d seen scarring like that, in a movie, granted, or in pictures- but it was scar tissue left from being scourged and then I remembered with this click of understanding, of awe, that of course that Jesus had been flogged. And that after resurrection, He had the scars in His hands and His sides, because Thomas felt them. So He would have the scars in His back too.

So boom. Immediately- extraordinary awe.

Still though, learning to trust Jesus to this degree was quite agonizing, actually. I never wrote about this, anywhere, at any time, until now, but last spring, I was walking around the park and Jesus began a healing work that was so intense and required such trust that I was in tears.

(From what I know, the only way to heal shame is to first find the courage to bring it into the light. That part can be indescribably difficult, because the fear and the shame seem to become amplified right before reaching the light. Once illuminated, the lie is shown for what it is. It loses its power and there is freedom and wholeness. This can be some of the most difficult work one ever does in life.

(Once, when I was young girl, my cousins and I attempted to pry open the lid of an old paint can that had been sitting in the sun at my grandparent's house.  The cousins gave up, but for some reason, I was determined to get that paint can open.

(The paint in the can had expanded in the heat, so the very moment the lid came free, the paint exploded up into my face. I don't remember very much except the pain and terror and screaming and not being able to see. I was taken to the emergency room where the doctors held my eyes open while they washed my eyes out, which was a terrible ordeal, but of course, they were healing me, not torturing me. If I remember correctly, the doctors were amazed that I hadn't permanently damaged my eyesight.)

It was exhausting. It was one of the most exhausting, emotionally demanding experiences I’ve even been through, but the fact of the matter is, afterward, at the end of the experience, the shame subsided and I felt whole for the first time in a long time. I felt like I’d come out on the other side of the emotional rapids, having gained my whole self.

And of course, in the last few days, I’ve remembered that experience, and understood, in a whole new way, how Jesus was restoring me as His own creation; the way He made me from the beginning.

February 25, 2013 Journal

I feel almost as if I have to enter some kind of sacred space before writing here, but that’s not the way it is. Last night, I felt that way too; I wanted to go to Jesus, but I felt hindered by unworthiness.

Then I remembered that I can’t earn it, so I shed the bad feelings. I was saying, “I have nothing to barter with, I have nothing to give You. I am a beggar in Your presence, and I cannot hide this. This is who and what I am.”

And at the same time that I let all such pretense go, I saw Jesus in the room. I went to Him and He wrapped us up in the throw blanket and there was no more fear or anxiety, only mercy, comfort and love, and I rested and sank into His love like water, still waters.

Sometimes I remember that I can go to Jesus at any time, and love on Him, and so I do, I do, I do. Other times I feel shy.

Last night, I was wondering what would happen. Would I see Him? Would He come in a way I could perceive? Would I see the room? Would it be the same as before? What did Jesus expect from me?

I remembered first getting used to knowing Jesus in a spiritual sense, when that was new back during that first autumn, and how I never knew what to expect then or what was normal, until I learned it over time just by experience.

It’s the same for you now, Jesus said to me gently.

And it was so true. How often will I be seeing Him? Where will I be seeing Him? What does Jesus want from me, what is the end result? I don’t know. Yet.

So I rested there and waited quietly, with quiet, calm expectation for Jesus to come or to show me whatever was His will- this is like opening one’s hands when one’s eyes are still shut and one never knows what will be placed in the palm of the hand, but trusting the other person so much that one can wait there, hands upheld, for whatever will come.

You were made for this, Jesus told me, more than once. Another words, it’s inherent to myself. In abandoning myself to His love, in trusting Him with all that I am, I am claiming my deepest self, my created self. This is my inherent shape.

And I do wonder, very much, what it will be like to be with Jesus in Heaven. I know I am not seeing this or Jesus as He truly is, in all His glory, and what that will look like is a great mystery to me. But, since I can’t know, I will remain in trust and be grateful for all that I am given now.

I keep thinking back, how did this all happen, how did this depth of trust and joy and abandonment to Him begin? And the answer is, it was Jesus. I felt my longing for Him rise up, as usual, and Jesus insisted, again and again, that I pour that longing out to Him and to trust Him with it. It’s like that line of buoys that are sometimes drawn up over the swimming beach at lakes to show where is the swimming section. But it’s all one lake, it’s all one body of water, and strong swimmers go out beyond it, for the joy and the exercise.

Jesus kept saying, the whole lake is ours and I won't let you drown. Come out here to Me.

So there was less and less reason to hide from what was clearly true. I was already in the water and swimming around for some time, and since I could not deny His leading, and since I knew Jesus and knew His voice, and since in the last month or so, I’d been swimming up to that line of buoys and looking beyond it shyly, I decided to trust Him after all, and so swim right out into the depths.

There was no outside factor. Jesus simply stepped in with a much more clear invitation than usual. And I took it. I stopped pretending that I wasn’t already in the lake.

February 25, 2013, Unpublished blog

Apparently, all I want to do anymore is write poetry, which is unfortunate because... well, that's hard to do and I am an amateur.

But every once in a while, I reach a kind of intensity in my need for creative expression that doesn't allow for the nice, measured pace of narration- it wants short bursts of emotion! Impact! Metaphor!

(This is not the first version of this poem, which was shared here. Later on, I added to it and edited it, using material that was inspired by the experiences I was being given at that later time.)

Sometimes I wish I was an artist,
and I could draw instead of write.

I would shade in the language like a landscape
The line of the hills would disappear into distance
valleys sequestered by the sweep of a charcoal pencil.

But it’s not a landscape I’m thinking of, it’s me.
It’s me that’s lifting up into the paling sky
Easily, as if I had never been clay.

No distance to reach through
Nothing to reach but You.

When I was a girl
I barely knew You.

Too shy to rest in the boat,
rocked by the sea,
under the glassy sky
made still before the storm.

But that veil had worn so thin,
I had to let it loose.

The horizon shows at sunrise,
all along those hills and sky,
even at the zenith, the light
replaces all the distance.

I asked You for a bower and You gave me

loose red soil,
tilled up clean and getting everywhere
between the raised beds for vegetables.

I wanted You to take me home and You!
You took me right back here.

Here's something hard to learn-

that I must let You go
for You to return again
newly mine and presently real,
however You will be,
in that moment unlike the last.

In this way I am constantly beginning
again to find myself further along
and in this way, You are taking me somewhere,

probably right here,
where I live with You

in each passing moment dying to the next
always falling into distance which
is not there, after all.

Instead, it's a kitchen garden growing fruits and vegetables.

February 26, 2013 Journal

I woke up this morning and Jesus was warmly there. To be in His presence is like warm sunlight, the peace of grass on an August afternoon, like the feeling of comforting, solid earth.

And I suddenly remembered what prayer used to be like- so stiff, so far away.

I was thinking about this last night, because of the intense anxiety and pain around the adoption, which is up in the air again, due to an unexpected event, and it hurt badly and there was nothing I could do- just, the loss, again of the adoption, of having to wait yet again, just when I thought we were clear to move forward.

I grabbed up fistfuls of His robe and stuffed them in my mouth and bit down on them, as if to keep from crying out in pain. And I could feel Jesus holding me, and I could see His face in profile, as He was looking away into the distance, and there was so much sadness but also peace on His face, as He was with me, holding me.

It was beautiful; I have never seen Jesus that way before. And the funny thing about that, is that He looked like He does in so many of the pictures I have seen. That look of gentleness, of long suffering, of peace, is the same. Perhaps He really does look like that, or maybe that image of Him is stuck in my mind.

Anyway, last night I was thinking that if I had to move through that kind of pain, while believing that Jesus was above me- stiff, unreachable, only an authority figure, even if a benign one, and not my Beloved Lord, who is committed for life to me through covenant love and as given to me as I to Him, who holds me in His arms and Whose heart hurts in every way that mine did, I would not be able to bear this.

I was uncertain as usual, about would Jesus come and how would I see Him and where would we be, and I tried to simply rest and let that just be what it was; which is natural, and to enjoy this, which is a precious, early time- the learning time.

I did not see Jesus in the inner room, but His presence was close and loving around me, and I was obedient to accept this, but I just don’t know what to expect.

It’s like learning to dance and often I am stepping on His feet and sometimes He is leading me in one direction just as I am pulling in another, because I didn’t know, and so it must look terribly awkward sometimes, but Jesus’ patience and tenderness is past describing. He is constantly reassuring. But when I am able to let go of the anxiety and abandon myself to the joy of being with Jesus, of knowing that He is with me and that He loves me and that my love means such a great deal to Him, and that my love moves Him deeply, than the joy is close to ecstasy.

I told Jesus, He has to teach me how to be with Him- please to tell me how I should behave and what to expect. Jesus told me that He was already teaching me, and that I should be patient with myself.

What I am beginning to learn is that this is quite simple, it is nothing more and nothing less than being with Jesus and giving Him space- that is, to give Him space to move or to speak, and He is giving me space to move also. It’s not complicated, really, but in one sense it is because it’s learning to make conversation and when to speak without interrupting the other person.

It’s face to face, watching the person’s expression and listening intently, and thinking about what that means once one has heard it, and thinking about what to say in response and saying it. In this depth of conversation, there can be no small talk, in the sense of passing time or hiding what is really going on. It’s only what’s real that can be said in this kind of conversation.


“O my dove, [here] in the clefts in the rock,
In the sheltered and secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

-Song of Songs 2:14, AMP