Sometimes I think it's quite shocking, the degree to which I am in love with God.
I think, well, Jenny, that's not appropriate. Not appropriate at all. Worship Him, yes. Obey Him, yes. But to be in love with Him? That's a bit much, you know. That's not the thing at all.
Then I think why? Why am I so in love? How did I get here?
I'll tell you. Firstly, He is humble. How delicious is that? How unexpected. How irresistible, for God to be humble.
When Jesus says that He is gentle and humble of heart, He's not just throwing that phrase out there for some good PR before moving on to the business of the day, which is being grand and horrible and vast and crushing things, which is what I used to think He was like.
He is identifying His very heart. He is laying it open. Which He does do, all the time.
Which leads me to the next thing, which is His ability to be vulnerable. I find this shocking. I had no idea that God would make Himself vulnerable, but He is just always out on a limb.
He is always offering just a little bit more, or a lot more, than I'm ready for. And many times, I don't take it, which leaves Him sort of hanging there, like that person that held out their hand to shake and nobody took it.
And yet I have never experienced offended anger or indignation or impatience from Him because of this- probably because He knows my heart and He knows that the reason I am unable to take what He is offering is because I feel certain of my complete unworthiness to take it.
Jesus seems to have no sense of His own dignity. I used to look down my nose at Peter for being so obtuse around Jesus, but now! Now, Peter is my brother, my bosom friend. I love Peter.
With Peter, I take Jesus aside and rebuke Him for even suggesting that He might suffer! He should not suffer! He will not suffer! Doesn't He know who He is?
With Peter, I draw my dirty feet away with sanctimonious reproach and declare that He will never wash my feet! What an inappropriate thing for Him to even suggest! Doesn't He know who He is?
Sometimes I'm even thinking like Simon, thinking privately to myself that this dusty, young itinerant Teacher cannot possibly be from God, because if He was, He wouldn't be letting a sinner touch Him. They're following close after Him all the time; they ruin His reputation.
Sometimes Jesus says something to me that is so loving, and gentle, that I must put my hands over my face. Sometimes I forget and call Him sweetheart by accident, and then I think to myself, Jenny, you are talking to God, you crazy girl.
Combine these with the fact that He is the head of all principalities and powers, that He is the fullness of God and yet also fully human, and carrying scars, and I just cannot help loving Him, adoring Him.
The great thing about that, is that we can love Jesus as much as we want. He is safe to love. We can love Him absolutely, without reserve.
Or, as the catechism goes, "Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever," and I must agree with C.S. Lewis, when he concludes that these two things are really the same thing.
March 22, 2013 Journal
I hear Jesus insisting, more and more frequently, to give my experiences away, to pass it on, to tell others.
This makes me nervous; I won’t lie. And I keep asking Him, How??? How do you want me to do that? In what way? In my blog? Do You want me to write a story, another novel? On facebook? How shall I give this away?
Jesus was very clear the last few days, He wanted me to share my experiences in this one particular way, in one particular place on line. I’ve shared some of my experiences there, but since then, have not. This morning, I knew I would, and I did.
Afterward, I stood in front of the window, and this song came on, and as it did, the light broke out from the clouds and I was staring up at the layered clouds of white and blue. I was surrounded by quiet glory and wonder and love and light. Jesus was behind me, holding me in His arms, His face close to mine, and I was bathed in love and close to tears and my soul rose up into wonder and joy and the moment faded away, but the warm, calm happiness remained.
So now the question remains. What more shall I give away? Where and in what way?
I’ll write. I’ll try just writing and see what happens.
March 23, 2013 Published blog
Last night, I was reading and the reading led me to wondering about how or why God might need us. I mean, He doesn’t really need us, because He has everything and never gets hungry, so to speak, but He does need us in the sense that He is loving, and the perfect quality of His love requires subjects to love and to be loved by.
I think of it as similar to how Christ put on humanity and dwelt among us. He was and is fully God, and yet He chose to accept the poverty and powerlessness of humanity. He did so freely, as God.
In the same way, He lets Himself be vulnerable to us through His love of us. He does so because, without this vulnerability and mutual need, how could it be a true relationship? And He deeply desires a true, free, and loving relationship.
(It makes me think of a verse I had read right at the beginning of all this. It was when I was first reading through the Old Testament with Jesus. I’d never seen the verse there before: “And I thought you would call Me My Father and would not turn away from following Me.” I sat there, unable to move on because of the heart break in those words, realizing that God had hoped for something which had not come true. But He knows all things! So He could have closed His heart to the hope, but He didn’t! Even knowing that it couldn’t be, He hoped it and suffered heartbreak. What manner of God is this? One that deeply desires relationship and makes Himself vulnerable to hope even when He doesn't have to.)
It's why He goes after the one lost sheep, it's why the entire house is swept out to look for the one lost coin, it's why He goes running to meet the bankrupt, disobedient son while he's still far off.
But He never ceases to be God. He is the God that hopes all things, believes all things and endures all things, for His own sake, which is love, and for our sake, because we are the subjects of His love.
I resisted this for a long time, and He kept offering it to me. I kept insisting that He be untouchable, unmoved, well defended.
And Jesus kept insisting that not only was He touchable, but He bore the scars to prove it, that His heart is wide open and that He does not defend Himself against us. His arms are always open. He is always waiting, inviting.
He told me once that He lives, each day, in far greater longing than I had ever known in my entire life. When He told me that, I thought, that can't be right! How could God suffer longing? It's because of the nature of His love, which He yields to, freely.
Or, as Richard Rohr puts it:
"Consider it this way: God's main problem is how to give away God! But God has great difficulty in doing this. You'd think everybody would want God. But the common response is something like this: 'Lord, I am not worthy. I would rather have religion and morality, which give me the impression that I can win a cosmic contest by my own efforts.'"
-Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, Chapter 2
It can be very difficult to let oneself be loved by God. I wrestled with it for years. It can be painful and slow, because of the things that can come up in the quietness of being present.
And God is sometimes showing up and sometimes not and so one is risking disappointment and feelings of rejection, if He does not show up in the way we hoped or wanted.
Try to trust Him with the little that you can, in the ways that you can, when you are able to. Give away as much as you can bear, reach out as far as you dare, be as honest with Him as you can, and let it be. Let it rest in the mystery of God's love. Know that what you give Him, goes to Him, that when you open your heart, it's safe with Him.
You are falling into Love. You're His, you're safe in His hand, and no one can take you out of His hand, His loving care. Jesus knows that you are reaching out in longing for Him alone and that you are trusting Him; He will answer you.
Say to yourself and try to believe, as much as you can, that you know His voice and a stranger's voice you will not follow.
He is the gate and you have entered through Him. Now you may go in and out, safely and find pasture. He knows you, and you know Him, and He lays down His life for you.
Remember that, because you have been born again, you have a new heart, a good heart, one that is producing fruits with patience. The Lord has given you this new heart, this good heart, this heart that beats with His.
You have been given His own Holy Spirit as your steadfast guide and comforter, who has sealed you for salvation, through Whom you are being sanctified.
Knowing these things, and in the present moment and all that is it and is not, let yourself be loved by Jesus, as much as you can bear to believe.
Let yourself rest in the defining, sustaining, ever present love of God that brought you forth, that carries you through and that brings you home.
March 23, 2013 Journal
So I wrote a blog. For a long time, I keep thinking, I have to pass on these things I’ve learned. How shall I pass them on?
I kept coming back to being present in the moment and letting oneself be loved, and believing that one is safe in God and that one’s heart is good.
These are the foundations of knowing God on a personal level, in my experience.
If one is afraid that someone or something other than God will reply or respond, or lead one astray, than there will never be enough trust to surrender oneself to God.
If one believes that one is not worthy of love, one will have a very hard time connecting to it, but will continually stumble over evidence that seems to prove their unworthiness.
A person has to believe they are worthy of love if they are going to feel it. In some cases, God’s love breaks through, which is part of His grace. But the working principle seems to be, that one connects to it when one begins to believe it, or to rest in it, to trust it.
Which is basically to trust God, as Jesus points out over and over again, in the book of John, which is to cling to, rely on and trust in Him.
And if one believes that one’s own heart will deceive them, then love is shut right down. How can one feel then? All that one has left is the mind, and trying to feel the love of God with one’s mind is like trying to eat a sandwich with one’s hands. You can hold it, but you can’t taste it and it won’t satisfy you.
And then one must be present and real, in the moment. Because it happens now, here and now. Not later, when one is more perfect, or in a more perfect environment, etc, etc. It’s now.
So anyway, I shared some of those things and now I’m filled with anxiety, even though Jesus is close to me, and encouraging me etc, etc. We are doing the same thing, He and I. Only He does it perfectly, but still, He’s frequently rejected. I can’t do it perfectly, but that isn’t what Jesus is asking of me. He’s asking me to share and to trust Him.
Last night, as I was resting in Him, a prayer rose up out of me, out of my heart, and it was simply, Let them be loved. This rose up out of me, over and over again, so powerfully, just that phrase. I felt the warmth of it, the current of the Holy Spirit that was carrying this prayer, the current pouring out of Jesus through me, and then back to Jesus, through me. I thought of people name by name, and on and on, until I came to a natural stop.
As I spoke, in my spirit I was making these sweeping generous gestures with my hands and it was as though my hands were trailing light as the love was pouring out of me and then, when I was done, it felt as if my hands were warm.
I was thinking of something last night, and felt insecure, and immediately I felt this wash of both Jesus' voice and His love. His reply was so immediate and strong, that I was like, whoa! Steady on, there!
I was all, that’s too much, that can’t be Jesus. Let me clear my mind; let me fall into the quietness of the moment, so I can prepare properly to hear His voice…
Even as I was thinking this, before I had even completed the thought, Jesus said, right into my ear, But I was just talking to you.
Oh my goodness. He is just too much, sometimes.
I was brushing my teeth and a feeling of comparing myself in pride to others rose up in me, and I was ashamed and tried to hide it and then I opened myself to Jesus, quite simply.
Okay, that was my thought, I said. And immediately, I felt His warmth within, where I’d had the thought, replacing the thought and I was caught up passionately close in His arms in a healing and close way, which is always the way that I feel- or almost always- the way that I feel when I'm honest with Jesus in that way- which I’m beginning to realize must be confession. But it’s such a relief! So it took me a while to make that connection. It’s so quick, and it hardly has any form and almost never has any words.
Anyway. And then I felt Jesus take my foot in His hands, as though He were washing it, and I said, No! Like, what are you doing? And just as quick, I made the connection between confession and release, and washing of feet. Like a way of tenderly caring for, and not being afraid to touch and not being turned aside from, but directly caring for, those areas of us that we are ashamed of or feel are inadequate.
And I remembered the other times when Jesus has mentioned and/or cared for my feet, so just as quickly, I said, okay, yes, I accept.
He said, into my ear, with such approval, you are a quick student.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jesus say that before and I felt pleased and surprised, that He thought that way about me, or that I was that. But I did make the connection rapidly and I have done so on other occasions as well. Increasingly, I would say, Jesus doesn’t need to use words. Though I sometimes press Him for them, when I feel uncertain.
Anyway, when Jesus said that, I thought, well, that is because He keeps going on about feet, and using that imagery. So I told Him it was because that was one of His repeated lessons- that was why I could respond quickly.
When I was in bed, Jesus came and draped His arms around my shoulders and leaned His head against mine and I felt myself sink into rest and He said, you did a great deal today.
I felt peace and rest and approval and love sink down deep around me and my chest rose up into a long, cleansing breath, as I lay there with the book against my mouth, looking out at the evening sky, and not seeing Jesus, of course, because I never see Him like I see a physical object, although I feel His touch so, so often.
Jesus settled in with me and I with Him. I opened up my arms, I said, come close, come here, rest and be loved, and He came in close and we were resting in love.
It is just this sort of thing that I can’t help wanting to point people toward. How delicious it is! How could anyone not want that experience, of resting in God and Him with them? It’s the best thing.
So, I will offer, in love, in hope, in faith, knowing that I am offering in mystery, releasing my readers from my expectations, releasing them, as it were, into the expanse of His loving sovereignty, into their own story.
All I can do is share my own, in hope, with love and then release. One does this over and over again. It’s an enriching and growing experience.
March 24, 2013 Journal
I woke up this morning and Jesus was there, and it’s like waking up to the sun. Without words, in an irresistible way, Jesus makes me remember Him, that He is there and that He loves me.
And sometimes I think, this is too much! I feel His presence all the time, as if I am floating in it, in way over my head. Jesus is so loving. His love for me never seems to come to an end. Perhaps because He is God.
I wondered, what would it be like to not feel His close, loving presence surrounding me all the time? I felt sort of guilty for even wondering that, but He didn’t seem to mind. So I asked Jesus directly, but without words- I can’t describe that well, and indeed, He answered.
The room was quiet, so quiet and still, on a Sunday morning, with pale yellow paint and a rainy day outside and the birds, I could hear and it was so still and so… physical. Material? It was just physically what it was: wood and glass and paint and cotton fabrics.
But I couldn’t rest in that. I mean, I couldn’t remain merely in the physical. Because immediately, my spirit was all, “Okay, but I’m still surrounded by God. That’s just true, regardless of what I’m sensing.”
Immediately I was surrounded by and embraced by Him, and the love was richer and sweeter than before.
This morning, something happened which potentially could have triggered mountains of shame, but Jesus was so close, so reassuring, so loving, very strongly, again and again and again, as I drove to the grocery store. It was as if He really, really did not want me to fall into shame and alienation all over again, and I did not. I recognized that I could not earn what I have with Him, that He created me, that past sins have been forgiven and forgotten, and didn’t matter to Him any longer, because it was gone and I was instead exactly who I should be, which is me, which is His.
Then, when I was unpacking the groceries, we were dancing in the kitchen. I was sometimes throwing my arms up and around His neck- He seems very tall, in the spirit. It was all very delicious, and almost overwhelming and I was grinning like an idiot and Lynn came up to me like, what are you doing, dancing in the kitchen? She’s never quite sure what is happening, but it seems very thrilling to her.
I was worn out from everything and Jesus encouraged me to go lie down, so I did. I rested and He was there and He assured me that everything would be okay and that I had done just as He asked and that He would take care of everything; I could rest.
So I was resting and it was very clear, in the resting, that my head was against His chest. He was so present. I let myself breathe and resting quietly with Him. I felt safe and sound, loved by Jesus in a quiet, living way.
I thought about some of my worries, from what I had read, and Jesus comforted me, so I let it rest in the mystery of His love and sovereignty, which is like the fullness of all these pieces that we see now, through the prism of our own age and experiences. I let the worries go into Him, because I know He is mine and He is all that I want and I will know more of Him later and that is enough and all that I want, so long as it is Him, all the time.
Jesus told me that He was entirely mine, and I fell asleep in His arms. I felt His tender pleasure at having me there, falling asleep wrapped up tightly in His arms. I was seeing this inwardly. I was held in the curve of His arm, wedged safely in against the back of the couch, with my head on His shoulder or arm, His face close to mine. I could open my eyes and see His eyes. They seemed blue as the sky and sparkling with light. And I thought, blue? But I didn’t pause to question it, I just let it be in the mystery of what is happening, in the way in which He is appearing to me.
But I poured love into His heart, over and over again, and listened to it beating, knowing who He is and His story, His history. In fact, that kept rising up out of me, Jesus’ story, loving Him because He is who He is. But mostly because He makes Himself vulnerable, because He longs for us, because He suffered for us, because He comes down to us.
Then Jesus seemed to want me to come out of the room, and we stepped into the grass and then it was as though He turned into a lamb or a hart and then a horse, and it was as though He wished to carry me somewhere and I was too afraid.
(And then I saw a whole series of images, one image flowing into another, and I didn't know what they meant or why I was seeing them. If I were led by the Holy Spirit to the understanding that there were some spiritual significance to the images mentioned above, I would describe them, but that is not how He is leading me. I see many things that I never record. I don't record them because I know they are not based on the truth of the Lord Jesus and His Word, and that they are as nothing, as a nonexistent thing. If I had to guess now, looking back at this and remembering it, I would say that my fear of following the Lord when He asked me to caused me to see a whole series of fearful images.)
I kept handing these images over to Jesus, I kept handing the images over to Him, because Jesus is not contained or defined by what I see inwardly, His truth remains firm. Each time I handed Jesus an image, I was aware that Jesus was next to me, holding me in His arms.
I have you, He whispered. I knew it was true. I didn’t have to understand the mystery of what was happening- maybe I was falling asleep and into dreams- but either way, I knew that Jesus always had me, He always will. I am, without question, firmly held by Him.
You have given me the shield of Your salvation.
Your right hand supports me;
Your gentleness has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.
-Psalm 18:35-36 NLT (July 14)