Friday, June 2, 2017

My Heart Waketh

We have reached the point where I wrote both published and unpublished blogs, as well as a private on-line journal. I will be pulling from all of these as we go forward. I will be sharing pieces and sections of the original journal entries. They will be much edited from their first writing. This is to bring clarity to what was frequently a long jumbled mess.

Before moving on to that, I must pause to give a framework of what will be unfolding. When it was happening to me, I did not have this; I had to work this understanding out over time, as Jesus made it clear to me. He did not do this at the beginning because as will become clear, He wanted me to trust Him first and understand it all later.

The first and main Scripture that Jesus pointed to was one from Ephesians: “And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:6, AMP)

Because of this, I assumed that Jesus was giving me a spiritual glimpse into this reality when I began to see Him. I had to learn by doing, as it were, and I learned that the more I trusted Jesus, the better I was able to receive the images. I use the word “receive” because it is just like that. It’s not like looking at something and seeing it immediately. It’s like being given a gift, only it’s a visual gift and the giver is Jesus, and He is offering it and He is saying, will you receive this from Me and will you trust Me?

It requires a lot of trust to receive a spiritual, visual gift, because I can’t control how it unfolds and I have to open my hands to receive it, only that’s a metaphor, because I don’t take in visions with my hands, it’s with my spirit. It was especially hard to trust when the vision wavered so much.

I don’t usually receive the type of visions that are absolutely clear and still, or that appear as a movie unfolding, imprinted absolutely over the physical world, and I have never been in the Lord's physical presence. I have never seen Him physically standing before me, nor have I ever been physically caught up to Heaven.

This was as true then as it is now, only at first, it caused me continually to stumble in my faith because I thought visions should be absolutely static and firm, and not like reflections of things on moving water that won’t stay still but is frequently being broken up or wavering with the current.

A higher level of visions is static and absolute, but Jesus rarely ever shows me something in that way. Jesus kept telling me that He was with me and that was the main thing and I should trust that no matter what I see. It took me months to even begin to get settled into that faith.

I am frequently writing that I am seeing things, and often times clearly, but I don’t record the hundreds of other times when I either see nothing or nothing clearly, because there is no point in writing that down.

The reason that I persevered was that the vision Jesus gave me was not a vision that was severed from all relationship with Him, but exactly the opposite. In the quiet months of wilderness humbling that preceded this point in time, I had learned to trust Jesus at a much deeper level, and when the longing for Him returned to life, this longing made me willing to follow Jesus like a deer panting after water. As I poured this longing out to Him, I began to see Jesus. There was a change in my relationship with Jesus, where He asked me to surrender to Him at a greater degree, and I was able to do so, and in doing so, my love and worship redoubled from before, and this led to seeing Him.

I was able to see Him in two different ways. One was as though Jesus were beside me in person, only He was spiritually there and not physically there. Before, I had been able to perceive where He was in the room; now I was able to know that and sometimes to see Him. In the other way, I was able to see Jesus and myself removed entirely from the physical world at all, and in another setting. The setting was the room that He had first shown me when I had been reading the book of Revelation and Jesus had told me, there is a place for you and it is very close to Me.

I was able to persist in trying to receive the vision with trust because I desperately wanted to be with Jesus and I was willing to learn to trust Him with it. I began to assume that I was in some quiet part of heaven, but only spiritually, and that I had to learn to see by faith. This was a frustrating process and I always wanted more than what I was being given.

Sometimes the image would be so broken up that I could see nothing at all. I began to call that, “static down the line,” as a little inside joke with Jesus, comparing my sight to a telephone cord that is not functioning well. I don’t know why I named it that, it just fit. (This was when there were still land line telephones, such a long time ago!)

When this happened, I learned the best thing to do was to open my hands completely to Jesus and trust Him with an open heart and to wait and to not be afraid. If I tried to control the static myself, it was just frustrating, because I can’t make the vision appear, but if I trusted Jesus, often the vision would become stable and I could receive it, and respond with faith and love and gratitude to what I was being given, and then wait to receive again.

When I asked Jesus for a higher level of spiritual sight, Jesus told me that He would not be giving that to me. He told me that it was His will that I should come to Him because I loved and longed for Him, and by faith, so that my faith should be ever growing. Jesus told me that it was His will that my whole life should be spent in doing that.

Later, when I asked Jesus why He was with me so much, He told me that He had created me to have such a burden of longing for Him that my soul, on its own, would not be able to bear up under it. At a later point, Jesus reiterated this, when I returned to being with Him after a break of a few months after my daughter was born. Jesus told me that He had created me with this longing, that He woke the longing at the right time, and then brought me to Himself or Himself to me- Jesus doesn’t always speak to me in exact word phrases, sometimes He just drops the idea or concept into my mind, and what He said held both those things.

In recording what I was seeing, I did not write in all the times in between receiving the vision and responding, so when you read it, it will appear seamless, but it was that way only rarely. It’s the same now, only my faith and trust are much greater and so there is hardly any hesitation, but the image still wavers or ripples. When I get way down deep into the presence of Jesus, then what I am seeing becomes beautifully clear and something more than sight, which is something almost impossible to describe, but I drink that in when it happens, because it is delicious.

When I first began learning to see, His face would come in and out of focus in an annoying way, and I would sometimes put my face inches from His and peer at Him, trying to get my eyes to work properly. Often, the appearance of His face would change; my journal records this and I remember it. When I would implore Him please to let me see Him as He is, Jesus told me that I could not see Him that way yet. I always had to recognize Jesus by faith first- that is, I had to believe that Jesus was telling me the truth that I was, in some spiritual way, with Him and that was the main thing.

One of the best descriptions of this way of seeing and being with Jesus that I have yet read was in “Practice of the Presence of God,’ by Brother Lawrence:

“The first benefit which the soul receives from the Presence of God is that faith grows more alive and active in all the events of life, particularly when we feel our need, since it obtains for us the succor of His grace when we are tempted and in every trial. Accustomed by this practice to take faith as guide, the soul, by a simple remembrance, sees and feels God present, and calls upon Him freely and with assurance of response, receiving the supply of all its needs. By faith, it would seem, the soul draws very near to the state of the Blessed, -the higher it advances, the more living does faith grow, until at last so piercing does the eye of faith become, that the soul can almost say- faith is swallowed up in sight, I see and I experience."

From the beginning, the way Jesus taught me to relate to Him was through love, and He made it clear that this love was as committed as marriage. This was and is a foundational aspect of how I relate to the Lord and how He relates to me.

The Lord gave me a few ways to understand this, when I finally asked Him outright about this, and what Jesus said was that I was a type. That was the word that He used, type. I didn’t understand what that meant, and so Jesus explained that I was like a symbol, in a similar way that Boaz was like a symbol of Himself, for example. Boaz or David or Solomon are like shadows or types of the coming Christ and they show forth, in a spiritual ways, aspects of His full and perfect character.

I’m not a type of the Lord, but I’m a type of the full and corporate Bride. I’m like a symbol which is illustrating certain spiritual realities that are far beyond myself as an individual. Jesus is showing through my life His love for His whole church in a sort of a small, living illustration. Certain things that the Lord said or did will be very strong meat unless understood in this framework.

Jesus said there were many others in the Body of Christ who also had this calling or were created with that intent- that of being an illustration of the Bride, but that He didn’t love these persons more than others with a different calling or way of being with Him. Jesus delights in each person that He created, and He made each heart with a particular way of relating to Him that is unique to them, and all of us together make up the corporate Bride.

If His explanations do not seem adequate or lacking in something, you must remember to whom Jesus was talking, and my level of spiritual understanding. He gave me simple concepts and simple pictures, because my faith was weak and wobbly, and almost any piece of “strong meat” caused me almost immediately to stumble and to doubt Him.

Jesus told me that He wants His grace to show through my testimony. I am the perfect framework for grace, because the writing shows that I was untaught, doubting, unready and needy. This is, of course, embarrassing, but looking back now, I can’t help but see that Jesus was brilliant in planning it this way, because it is the perfect failsafe to keep me from being hurt by spiritual pride.

This blog picks up a few days after the last one, where I described my grief and the presence of the Lord.

February 18, 2013 Published

I think I am improving; I did not suffer agony after posting the last blog, and by all rights, I should have. It was a rather revealing blog. But I'm learning that I am free to be myself.

I wrestled with this a long time. I thought freedom must, eventually, equal chaos. That's because I was discounting love as a force capable of informing decisions. It was too wishy-washy, I thought. It's too easily a guise for selfishness.

Now I am beginning to see how I am completely free and yet freely choose to behave in love.

I choose this because I have been loved. I have received mercy and grace and I have been on the receiving end of delight and deep, soul shaking empathy. It becomes more and more natural to simply live in it.

You're a gift, Jesus said, as I was thinking about this.

“That's a very sweet thing for You to say, thank you,” I replied.

Before, I would have been very uncomfortable, hearing Him state such a thing. I would have contradicted Him and then worried that if I actually took Him at His word, I'd become conceited.

Anyway, I knew what Jesus meant. It's humility to recognize that everything one is, is a gift- a gift that is constantly being given away into the mystery of the rest of the world.

This is only tedious if one is convinced that their true self isn't up to the job, and so offer up something else instead. Then it ceases to be a joyful falling into life, full of faith, hope and love, and becomes instead a chore and a role, full of rules, regulations and measurements.

Anyway, those are some things I have been living into, lately. It's surprises me, how simple it is, but I don't always manage to remember it. Lots of times I still choose fear.

As usual, after I post something like that, I remember how delicious the experience was, despite the grief. Writing about Jesus generally makes me want more of Him.

I felt that way last night, so called Him out by name.

“Jesus!” I cried in happy, urgent expectation, and waited.

I waited for that light, ineffable touch, the caress of spirit that so often lands on me, grounds me, lifts me.

One moment, two, and nothing. But this is old hat to me now, how sometimes He is coming toward me and sometimes I am seeking Him out and sometimes I'm just right where I am and that's just fine.

“I want sensation,” I requested firmly.

You want Me, Jesus replied, with His loving good humor.

“Yes,” I replied. “I want You.”

I'm here, He said simply.

Then I got distracted from Him simply by the wonder of what He'd just said, and I wanted more- no more of this shadowy veil, no more of this story book set up, where my Beloved comes to me and I never see His face.

I felt the longing that lives always just behind my heart awake and thump, like a louder heartbeat, a thunderous one, but I tucked it away. It's too painful to let that longing pour through me, tossing me out like spray into something too bright to see yet.

Instead, I turned the longing into the present moment, into my daily life and my writing, like folding batter, like kneading dough.

He's there, too.

February 19, 2013 Journal

I had an experience last night that required almost more trust that I had available, and required everything, and was more intoxicating than anything that I have ever known in my life. I know Jesus is asking me to love Him like an outpouring, like some intolerably sweet, precious nectar which is given without reserve.

I knew He had been asking for this for a long time, but I kept going back and forth. But Jesus kept coaxing me out.

I kept seeing that passage from the Song of Songs, where the Beloved is knocking and pleading at the door.

And I kept remembering how the woman says she doesn’t want to get out of bed, because she has taken her shoes off and she is ready to sleep. It was as if I was saying, I don’t want to risk this, to cross over to take the hand and open the door. I want to stay at this distance. This is a safe distance.

But when I did cross over to Him, in fact, my hands did seem to be dripping with fragrant, sweet myrrh. But that is where the metaphor ends, because Jesus was there when I opened the door. Maybe because I risked getting out of bed.

And I can’t lie, I find this entire thing just blind-blowingly incredibly delicious, absolutely irresistible and at the very heart of everything that I am and wish to experience- to be God’s beloved, to be His and He to be mine.

Jesus kept reminding me that I’ve known this a long time; that when I was a young woman, for example, how vivid the metaphor was to me and how shyly I pledged myself to Him. I remember that moment, and the innocence of it, the spontaneity and generosity of it.

Anyway, this has all been very astonishing and He kept telling me to write it out, and so I have.

Also, there is this whole little group of people like me, across the ages. They have written things, books and poetry. They have heard the same message of love and longing from God that I have heard; I hear it in their poetry. I am one of that way of relating to God. It helps incredibly to know that I am not alone in relating to God this way, that He has poured Himself out in the same way, saying similar things.

Okay! And Jesus keeps insisting that I read that particular passage of the Song of Songs, so my goodness, I guess I will do that! I’m just afraid that I will feel ashamed.

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.”

“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.”

“I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”

“I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.

“I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?”

“My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

“I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.”

-Song of Songs 4:12-16, 5:1-5

February 21, 2013

“You’re talking to me an awful lot lately,” I told Him.

You need the reassurance, He said simply.

And it is true, and Jesus is very much there, all the time. I stood at the window and watched the sunrise and He was there. I leaned back into Him. I don’t know how to describe these things, but I’ve mostly given up trying to explain them. I don’t understand what they are, but I know what it feels like, and what it feels like is that I’m being cherished and enjoyed, with the ease of long relationship or trust.

If I reach out to Jesus, He is right there.

This used to make me anxious.

I would accept this rush of spiritual ecstasy and wonder, because how could I not? I couldn’t- I was drawn right up into the presence of Jesus, right into His heart in this one heart stopping moment, swept up into it.

And then later, I would think- what on earth did I just feel? There’s no one in the room! I’m not seeing this with my eyes; I’m not physically feeling this, but this kind of fire or energy is washing over me in a way I can’t escape.

And I would be thrown into this dizziness of fear and shame, and Jesus would speak to me very firmly, as though taking my face between His hands and looking me straight in the eye.

I make you fit for Me, He said.

Like, phew!

And I think about how when I’ll be old- that’ll be quite the journey, won’t it? I asked Jesus, thinking of how much more full His love will shine out.

And Jesus put His arms around my shoulders and agreed that it will be, that we will be together and that it will be good.

And then I go back to writing. This all happened in a moment.

It amazes me now, looking back, that I didn’t see this trajectory in the way He was leading me. He couldn’t have made it more clear, really. All these memories have been coming back to me.

Did you think that was just coincidence? Jesus asked me, so tenderly, when I remembered this. And I knew then that Jesus meant that it was always true for me; I always knew what I was to Him, my heart and my ideas and my longing were quite naturally going toward Him, because it’s a part of who I am.

But of course, this whole thing is by invitation. Everyone is invited; everyone accepts on their own time and have their own hidden relationship with Him. Who knows that their relationship will look like? That’s something I’ll never know, just as they will never know what is between Himself and I.

February 22, 2013, Published

I have all these words fluttering around inside me, like a flock of blue birds.

They won't come to order.

They won't wrap the mystery around; they won't shape it into being seen.

I want the words to do this.

I want to say, "This! This is to love and be loved! This is my Beloved, this is my Friend."

But where can I point? And how can I describe what I haven't seen?

He moves over and through me like wind turning up the leaves,
my spirit turns splintered silver like the surface of water,
mist dancing up at dawn, dissolving into colored sky.

I am so much myself; I am altogether His own work.
I could not learn this until I let Him wrap me up warmly in flesh and blood,
waiting to lift up into breath.

If He wanted the void, He would still be moving there,
flowing only to and from Himself,
through the shapeless earth.

When He said to me,
I made you for Myself,
I denied Him the gift.

I drowned out His voice with a litany of my many offenses.
He stood corrected in a court of my own making.

It didn't matter that He waited still, outside the door and wet with dew.

But how can you make God go home when He insists that He lives with you?

I couldn't.

I told Him,
very patiently,
what it was He really wanted.

He listened,
very lovingly,
to everything I had say,
and simply disagreed.

So I gave into Him.

Yesterday, I drove up the hill in the clear winter sunshine and across the sky were two jet trails and on the radio I heard:

"So now I come to you with open arms, nothing to hide..."

And my joy in that mundane moment was so great that it was as though my whole spirit lifted up into everything at once,

the light and the sky and the trails of white and the glitter of the windscreen,

and so much loved and in love that I would live my whole life just to be there.

Because I know that's what He says to me, and for once, I believe it.

For once and always, I say it right back to Him, in one long, revealing breath before the next.

And I don't care that He's speaking to me through a Journey song; I'm not too proud.

He could speak to me through the Price is Right and I would not be astonished, not anymore.