Friday, November 10, 2017

For He is Like a Refiner's Fire

This is one journal entry. It contains several difference experiences, as well as three links back to past blogs as well as links to Scripture, which makes this dense with material and heavy. There are two different writing styles in this. The first section is an experience that I had written descriptively, with better language than usual, because I wrote it to be published as a blog before I had recorded it in my journal.

The more polished language of that experience is misleading- it is possible to read it and to assume that I was seeing everything and moving through this experience in a clear, seamless manner, but that is not true. I didn't describe the long moments of transition between one image, or one movement, and the next, because it would have made the blog cumbersome, and those sorts of transitions are difficult to capture in words. I confess, I wanted to write something beautiful. I wanted to capture the beauty and wonder of the experience without also sharing the difficulty and patience that was required to receive it.

It is true that certain details leaped out at me with unusual vividness, and that I was not only seeing, but feeling texture, shape and even sometimes temperature. What was frequently frustrating what that I could so rarely control my focus. I have seen things like water droplets clinging to long green tendrils of vine as they hung over the edge of a river bank, and seen the clean, crumbling dirt of the bank, and the roots, and then turned to Jesus eagerly, only to be suddenly seeing as though I were nearly blind and had misplaced my glasses.

This journal entry also records an experience which had happened the evening before and which was not written with the intention of being shared. It is perhaps one of the most intense visual, emotional and spiritual experiences I have received, and certainly one of the most pivotal in terms of understanding what Jesus was teaching me.

I have shared some of this before, with the same links to past blogs. I include the same links here, because Jesus was pointing back to specific lessons which had been eventually shared on my blog. Those lessons became like important points highlighted on a map.

May 10, 2013 Journal

I shared this some of this on my blog a day or so ago, but now I put it here- it happened right after or before the last entry here- and I will add here the things that I had not shared in the blog post.

I was first on the couch, curled up with Jesus, but I was so tired and drained. He sat up and it was as though I made space and waited to see what He would do and He swung me up into His arms and walked out into the grass and it was so fresh outside.

He set me on my feet. I took in the beauty and quietness and freshness of it and felt so much better.

Here is where the blog picked up-

Last night I stood on the grass in the mystery of that quiet, inner place.

Above me the sky was a deep blue of evening and I could see the blurred, black silhouettes of swallows fluttering past. I could feel the cool grass against my bare feet.

My spirit expanded out into quiet wonder at the detailed, living beauty of this.

Standing in front of me was that One that I love and seeing Jesus caused my heart to swell up into love and joy. I opened my arms wide to set the joy free.

"Love!" I declared to Him with delight.

I went leaping across the grass and threw my arms around Him.

"Love, love love!" I declared joyfully, which is, admittedly, a silly short hand, but oh well. That is what I said.

Jesus did not say anything, but I got wrapped up warmly in His embrace and I stayed there for a long time, simply being there, caught up in love and resting in it.

Then I sat down on the grass and ran my hand through it; it was cool in the evening and alive and growing, the way that grass does. It brought back memories of when I was a child. I lay down and put my cheek to the grass and Jesus sat down cross legged near me.

"Do You remember," I asked dreamily, "being on the grass of the front lawn in the evening with the other children and looking for four leaf clover?"

Jesus did remember; He had been there. He remembers, with love all the moments of our lives, even the small ones. He is like a parent that way, keeping a book of all our moments.

I remembered that there was a small brook that ran through the woods on the edge of the grassy space, so I sat up.

"Let's go down to the brook," I said happily, holding out my hand to Jesus.

He took my hand and we went running into the edge of the woods and carefully down the bank and into the water that ran over the smooth stones.

The stream reminded me of one I had played in as a girl and this reminded me of the friend that had played in it with me, and I thought of her with love, and the love became like a prayer for her that rose up out of my heart almost without any words at all.

This made me think of other friends and prayers for them also rose up, easily, from my heart as I went wading down the stream over the rocks.

We followed it down as it went tumbling over some boulders and then slowly between mossy banks and under trees and all the way until it came out at the edge of the cliffs and went running down them toward the ocean.

We came out there and the whole sky was visible from the top of the cliff. The beach stretched out pale below. A sickle moon has risen and hung over the ocean. The breakers of the ocean made long, white curves along the coast. Along the horizon a pale pink and gold lingered, but the sky was cobalt blue and dark at the zenith, full of stars.

I stood leaning against Jesus and love for Him swept through me, as it so often does. I poured all this love right out to Jesus as though love were a cup and this cup always tipped toward Him, and never running empty. I melted His heart and He poured love back to me without hesitation.

Listen, Jesus said then, bending down to me. Can you hear it?

I listened and I could hear the sound of the waves falling again and again on the shore, and also the soft music of the brook has it tumbled down the cliff. We sat down there and watched the sky and the ocean for a long time.

Do you want to go down? He asked.

"We could go down," I mused, almost to myself, remembering this freedom. "We don't have to walk. We could simply be there."

And then I was there; I let myself be there. I felt the sand between my toes, I bent down and let the waves wash over my hand and then a large one came and swept me off balance and I sat down in the surf and looked at up Jesus in shock and then suddenly it was just funny and we were laughing.

I stood up and shook the water off my hands. It did not seem unpleasant to be wet. We went walking down the beach, passing by an outcrop of rugged black rock that stood up from the sand. I went clambering up this and then jumped down. I could see the sheen of the water as it washed between the rocks, sliding back into the ocean.

There were things washed up on the beach; I saw a small white stone and bent to pick it up. I held it in the palm of my hand and then bent to let the waves wash the sand off. It turned translucent under the water.

I stood and held it out to Jesus.

"Look," I said with wonder.

Jesus bent over my hand and looked and then He took it and held it in His hand. I could see that He also thought it was lovely. He gave it back to me and then I wondered what to do with it.

I didn't have any pockets, so I couldn't keep it with me and I wanted my hands free. I thought it was best anyway, not to hold onto to things, but to let them come and then to let them go.

Turning, I placed it on top of the rock outcropping. It glimmered white there against the darker stone. Jesus came and put His arm around my shoulders and we stood leaning together.

"It will stay there, unless some raven or crow comes along and wants something shiny for their nest," I said to Him.

They won't take it, He said.

Then we went on walking, looking at things and being there, being together. And then suddenly I was tired and wanted to be home and we were home.

I could see the front room in unusual detail and clarity. It was open to the grassy space with stone pillars, full of light from lamps hung on delicate iron chains fastened to the ceiling. Everything in there was warm with light and inviting and comfortable and well known to me. I could see through into the interior room, which also was full of light.

A tree, a weeping willow, grew at one side of the front room and the branches swung down like a veil and at the other side of the front room was the orchard.

I thought about going in, but it seemed so fresh and airy outside, in the quiet evening. I didn't want to go in yet.

I fell back onto the grassy space with delight and looked up at the dark and starry sky. Jesus lay down beside me and pointed up at something, so I looked and looked, but all I saw were shifting alignments of stars, glimmers of moving light.

"Do You especially love the sky?" I asked Jesus.

I love everything I made.

I thought about this. "Even the earthworms beneath the grass and the bright hidden colors inside the rock, hidden deep under?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

Even those, He agreed.

"Even the tiny particles that make up matter and that spin around each other, holding each other in place?" I asked.

My love is in every dimension of what I created, He answered.

Here is where the blog ended, but I sat out there with Him for a while. I was chewing on blades of grass, I remember, sort of absentmindedly, as we spoke. Then we went inside and something He said caused me to I realize that there was another room, which is beside the interior room and behind the front room.

I walked there, and there was a round fountain sunk into the stone floor. Water poured over the lip into the back garden, which was dense with deep green shrubs and moss and ran away in a stream that disappeared under the foliage.

Last night, also I was tired. I have been so tired lately, a lot. I’ve been testing distance and presence and awareness, so last night, I closed the door when He was in the inner room and made myself stay in the horrible discomfort of feeling that I had offended Jesus, and knowing that I had not- then I opened the door and waited for His response, which is like making a space, though this is not a physical space. It’s a space of trusting quiet. And Jesus swept me up into His loving arms and He was full of love and good humor.

So that was wonderfully reassuring and then I declared that He was the all sustaining Christ- the substance within which I move and that was so. I experienced it as so.

I was alone in the room, but not alone, because the room was Jesus. I lay down on the clean stones in the corner of the inner room and spread my arms out and said, “This is You.”

Also, I loved that room. I felt a little foolish, but it moved me deeply, because of all the love which fills it- it is a safe place, a place of deep, deep love and trust and joy and it is ours. I rested there.

I walked around the room, alone, but not alone, because Jesus is sustaining and holding everything in place, and I let that knowledge hold me quiet, and the room began to break apart into light- bright, bright light and fell into space- the open space of Jesus being at the center and the ground of the reality of everything and then the room formed again, because it does exist- form does exist, because He brought it into being and called it good and causes it to remain.

Last night, Jesus said, let’s go swimming and I said where? And He said there was a lake- or He showed me the lake, so I said, “Where?” Because I had not seen the lake at a distance to show where it was in relation to where we were, just itself.

I let my thoughts rest quietly and listened, only this listening is like waiting to see, and I realized it was deeper into the woods where the stream overflowed from the fountain. Jesus led me there and I kept looking at His face as we ducked under the foliage, because of who He is. There was a lake at the end of the stream, a long narrow deep lake sunk into moss.

The waters were deep bottle green and some blue. Jesus slipped into the waters as easily as if He were a champion swimmer and so I followed Him. But I stayed by the edge, ankle deep, my feet sunk into the moss that grows even under the water at the edges. Then I leaned forward and sunk down into the water. I dove under and I could breathe under there.

The water was crystal clear and cool and the bottom was mossy. The very bottom was filled with deep green weeds that waved. We swam further and further down the lake and came out by a mossy flat bank underneath a towering moss oak and the branches and the ferns that grew around it enclosed the bank in green.

Jesus was soaking wet when He came out of the water. I could see His face with beautiful clarity, and something about His face being wet was moving to me- like seeing someone you love who has been caught in the rain. It’s disarming, it makes them look vulnerable and very human. It did this for Jesus also, and yet it also brings out an unexpected beauty, because of the way the water catches the light and the underlying shape of His face that is emphasized.

I won’t be able to describe this, because there is so much, but I want to try. We were caught up in an outpouring of love, in waves of intensity. I was looking and looking at Jesus. It was because I was seeing Jesus in the way that I could that caused the intensity of love.

I touched the scars in His hands, each one, letting myself fall into who He was. Jesus was full of fire, and I was on fire and we were one flame together, this flame was burning white. His eyes were full of fire, I could see His face through the flame.

Love for Jesus was consuming me and we were no longer on the green banks of the lake, but somehow, we were hanging somewhere that was lit golden from within and without, like silk over the light and the golden light enclosed us, only Jesus was Himself the Light within and shining out. Jesus was incandescent, made of light and shining through with a white light, and He had huge wings of fire, and we were turning white gold, melting down like gold in a furnace.

It was overwhelming and to steady my faith, I reached out and took His hands in mine and I touched the hole left by the iron nails of crucifixion, and I knew He was the author of Life, the only begotten Son, Life itself, the Son of the Living God, the author of my life and that our lives were united in such a way that we could not be taken apart and I kept thinking about this and accepting this as true, and delighting in the knowledge of it, that my true life is found only in the life of Jesus, that I cannot actually live apart from Him and do not live apart from Him, I am a little branch of the Living Vine. I was myself incandescent- I could see through my glowing hands, full of fire and light and I was saying to Jesus with abandoned joy that I was His creation and that I was made to be with Him.

And it was if I was melting, like a golden light surrounded by light and I was as if I were being lost in the light.

And Jesus said, Who are you to Me?

There was no space for false modesty in that light. It could not be offered there. I had to give Jesus the answer He had taught me in the only words I could find, so I said, “I’m Your own, Your vessel, Your beloved, Your sister, Your spouse, Your cracked vessel of human flesh and blood and spirit and life, made for You, I’m Your vessel.”

Jesus answered, You’re the apple of My eye, hidden in the secret places of the tabernacle, hidden under the shadow of my wings.

As Jesus said this, I saw Him close His eyes and hide His face behind His crossed arms and enclose me in His wings of fire and wrapping of incandescent silk like a silken cocoon of light moving in the wind, hidden at the heart of Him, in the heart of Him; I could see His heart beating red and orange as fire through the incandescence His presence.

And I called Him Jesus, because that is the name that was always hidden in His heart, and this filled Jesus with joy, and our joy was surpassing, overflowing and there was no fear, though I was not my own any more at all, my whole identity, my whole self, belonged to Jesus.

And then we were again on the mossy bank and Jesus was speaking to me, and His voice left no room for argument, though I could not have argued with Him at all, because it was as though all my bones were melted and I could hardly think.

Jesus demanded, in this voice of love that brooks no argument, What did I teach you? At the same time that He asked this, He brought up the memory of the time that He taught me it. It was two years ago, when I had been reading the Old Testament and thinking of all the things that we are to Jesus, and the last thing I had named was the sweetest thing of all, so I gave Him that last answer. I said, “I’m Your bride, Your sister, Your spouse.”

What did I say to you? He asked, and I remembered when Jesus came beside me as I had been thinking this, and how shy I had been to speak this truth, and how Jesus had coaxed me to say it.

I said, “You said, go on…” and I was remembering how, at that time, He had said that, encouraging me to come to the heart of the matter.

And bringing up another memory, Jesus said, And what I did I teach you, what did I say to you?

Around that time, I had been also reading in the Old Testament, and had come across a verse in Isaiah that had turned my heart on fire with longing, and I had pushed this aside as something not for me, but Jesus had insisted again and again, offering it to me until I accepted, so I answered Jesus, “You said to me, your Maker is your husband, is your husband, your Maker is your husband.”

And who was I, sitting beside you, speaking to you, teaching you this? Jesus insisted.

Of course I remembered it vividly, how much I knew who He was, how well I knew Him, after months of Him being around me. I remembered the intensity of giving in to this truth that Jesus was insisting I accept and finally throwing away all the doubt and feelings of unworthiness and just accepting in a burst of longing for Jesus, and being stunned by the intensity of His response.

“It was You, Jesus. You’re Jesus, the Son of the Living God. You said that to me,” I said.

And what else did I teach you? Jesus insisted, bringing it to mind.

And I remembered Jesus coming to me, to make clear what had happened the day before, when I had been caught up in ecstatic worship of Him, realizing that I was a spring of Living Waters, which was Him, His own spring, His own garden and that this meant that He was the gardener, but Jesus said He was not the gardener, He was the husband.

“You said I was Your garden enclosed, Your spring shut up… that You are the husband,” I replied.

Jesus said again, What is My name? Who am I?

And I said, “You’re Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One of God, You’re the Holy One of God, the Savior, the Anointed One.”

And Jesus said again, what did I teach you?

I had such a hard time thinking, because my poor thoughts were breaking up in the ecstasy, but I knew there was another time Jesus had taught me, and then I remembered- I remembered the first thing Jesus taught me, bending over my chair as I sat at the computer reading in those first, early days, reading the Song of Solomon like He had told me to do days before, and I had not obeyed because of shame, and then finally I had, and He pointed to the words on the screen and saying the words so that I heard them in my heart.

“You said that it was mine…”

What was yours? He insisted.

“That I was the Shulamite, Your little one, Your dove, Your beloved, that’s who I was, that was my story, my place.”

And who am I? Jesus commanded, once again and I answered, “You’re Jesus, the Savior, the Holy One of God, the only begotten Son of the Living God, You’re God and the Son of God and the Life and my Lord, the Source of my life, my well of living waters, the Living Waters, and my End.”


I just don’t have any words, really. As I’m typing this, there’s a warm fire burning in my stomach. Over and over again Jesus taught me and now He is building on that teaching, as though Jesus at first showed me the map of a far country, wonderful almost beyond belief. But now He is causing me to step into it.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God."

-I Corinthians 2:10-12