The Truth

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.1

I woke in the night, yet still in a dream. The feelings as real as the voices still echoing in my heart. I was in a paneled room, dark wood lit by flickering lanterns fitted into wall sconces. There were two heavy doors at the back of the room with an aisle down the middle between rows of wooden pews. The voice was almost a whisper, yet sounded to me like a shout. It was speaking of things I knew, of past deeds and roads travelled. I was seated in an elevated box next to what appeared to be a jury. There was an old television set on a rolling stand in front of me, its screen flickering with the noise of snowy static, yet periodically clearing to play movies of my past. My memories. The Accuser stood beside it, his face lit weirdly by the cold TV light and flickering of the torch-lit room. He was describing what he saw there to me and the crowd of onlookers seated in their pews. He spelled out in painful detail the wrongs I have done and the hurts I have caused to those I love the most. His speech is compelling as the movies play in the background in silent affirmation as he dares me to contradict his testimony. I try to look away, but the images are burned in my memory. Feelings of shame flood my heart. I have no reply. More whispered reminders, one after the other like a damning train of finger-pointing witnesses. I feel doubt seeping in like smoke preceding the consuming flames of despair. My wounds are many, and the wounds I have incurred to others are many more still. My flaws are obvious to all, the sentence all but proclaimed. I sit mute, unable to reply, unable to refute. I am going once again to the Place of Chains. I feel cold and empty inside as Despair steps forward to usher me away.

“I need truth.” The thought came unbidden. Like an unexpected note slipped to me by an unseen friend. I woke as if from a drug-induced state and looked around me at the courtroom with its accuser and television, witnesses and gallery. My lips spoke as my voice cracked, “I need truth.”

The courtroom erupted in laughter, and the Accuser smiled and said, “It is all the truth.” But the smile died on his lips and the noisy laughter trickled to an uneasy murmur as I cried out loud and strong, “I need Truth!” Then silence fell like a stone as the doors to the room opened with a rumble like thunder, my Defender striding in. His eyes blazed with eternal fury at the illegal proceedings. The crowd shrank back as the heat of his anger passed them by. I looked for the Accuser, but he was gone. The witnesses were pretending to be mere onlookers. My Defender knocked the TV off it’s stand and it smashed to pieces on the floor with the loud crunch of scattering glass. He stood between me and the crowd, surveying the room with the cold eye of authority. “It is finished!”, he said loudly. And the murmuring crowd was silenced as the room began to quickly empty. Then, turning to me and looking me straight in the eye, he spoke softly and gently, “It is finished.”. His eyes were filled with compassion and the deepest love and I believed.

He reached his scarred hand out to me and I took it, stepping out of the box to meet him. We walked out of that smoky room together, out into the fresh air of freedom.

As he took me down the path toward home, he began to talk of our relationship and who I was to him. He showed me his healed scars as evidence of his great affection for me, even before I knew him. He carefully examined my wounds and reminded me that my healed scars are also record of his love for me. He told me that I will have more wounds in this life and that I will also wound others, but his grace is sufficient for both. “My healing is always available for those who believe and who ask Me knowing I can heal them, just as it is available for you, my beloved.” We walked and talked as he strengthened me, pouring the truth about myself into my heart. Renewing. Restoring.

What is truth? He is truth. The truest thing about me is not my past or my deeds good and bad. The truest thing about me is not what I have done or what has been done to me. The truest thing about me is the life of Jesus in me. The truest thing about me is that I am his Beloved. I am loved just as I am in each present moment by the Great Lover. His life in me and love for me has made my heart new and has set me free. Free to live. Free to be. Free to love.

He is the Truth, and I know him, my Deliverer.

1John 18:37,38

Freedom’s Choice

Suddenly he knew he was gong to die right here in tortured agony. Abandoned. Hated. Rejected. Alone. No loving family surrounding his aged body lying on a peaceful bed. No companion to hold his hand as he slipped quietly into the void. No comfort of a kind word at the end of a full life. Pain was his companion, and the ones surrounding him in his last breaths were his enemies, laughing at him while they divided his belongings amongst themselves. There would be no kindness in death for him. He could feel the sweat rolling down his forehead and down his back, streaking lines through his blood-stained skin. He gasped and his muscles quaked with effort as he tried to hold himself up, an effort doomed to failure by terrible fatigue. He had been beaten, but the numbness that shock graciously supplies had long since worn off, and now the pain was ever-present. It hurt everywhere. He could not tell any more where on his body it hurt the most, but if he had given it thought, the inevitable answer would have been his heart.

His heart hurt so deeply it was a physical pain. All he had ever known was intimacy and love. He had enjoyed a fellowship so deep and strong for as long as memory served. His life had not been an easy life, but it had been a good life. His family loved him. He had many good friends, and was respected by those for whom he was responsible. A life of work. A good life. All that was gone now. He had been betrayed and now he was alone. Even his own father was standing by, but in spite of his great power and influence, he was doing nothing for his son. Darkness was descending upon his heart as Death crept nearer to deal the final blow that would end it all.

He dragged his mind up out through the pain as if from a deep sleep. He breathed hard, struggling to inhale. He must focus. He must see. Summoning what little strength he had left, he fixed his heart with resolve. There was no other way. Death was coming, and he would be abandoned. He took one last glance at his father, then turned to Death and looked him full in the face. His eyes fixed on Death as he spoke loudly to his father for all to hear clearly, “Daddy, I am yours! I trust my spirit in your hands.” Then, not waiting for Death to come to him, he stepped forward into the final blow and the deepest dark.

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.1

You must look in the place you least want to look, to find the thing you most want to find. Jesus knew that. Jesus lived that, and continues to live that with us. It has been said that you must look into the darkest darkness to find the lightest light, but what you will discover if you do is that the light is always greater than the darkness.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it2

We see the truth of it in our relationships and our work. If you desire intimacy, you must enter into vulnerability. If you desire excellence, you must face failure. To avoid your personal dark means to avoid your own soul which leads to the ultimate destruction of your true self.

What if? What if the darkness is too dark? What if the failure is too crushing? What if the pain is too much? What if?

“What if?” is a question that must be asked fairly of both sides. What if I don’t face the enemy? What if I stay the way I am? What if I don’t try the hard thing? What if I don’t face my fear? What if I don’t risk the unknown? What if I never make myself vulnerable? Who will I become? What will I become? There is a risk taken no matter which way you go.

Life is hard no matter what decision you make. If you do not go willingly into the darkness, it will surely come willingly to you. Your freedom is found in the ability to choose. The question is, which do you choose? Who do you choose to be? When you boldly walk toward the hardest things and aggressively press into your own uncertainties and darkness, one of the things that will surprise you is that you are actually stronger than you think.

The good news is that we belong to the same adoring Father that Jesus does. He is a father who understands that our way to light is through darkness. There is no more loving way than to walk with us through our pain, just as he walked with Jesus. We cannot know the unsearchable depths of his love without experiencing the darkness of sorrow as Jesus did. But once we do, it becomes clear to us that it was the only way, we were stronger than we thought, and we wouldn’t be where we are without going through it.

Henri J. M. Nouwen writes, “God sent Jesus to make free persons of us. He has chosen compassion as the way to freedom. This is a great deal more radical than you might at first imagine. It means that God wanted to liberate us, not by removing suffering from us, but by sharing it with us. Jesus is God-who-suffers-with-us…Everything Jesus has done, said, and undergone is meant to show us that the love we most long for is given to us by God, not because we deserved it, but because God is a God of love.”

1 Luke 23:44-46

2 John 1:5

The Kindness of Love

There is an Aesop’s Fable I read as a child called The North Wind and the Sun. It goes like this:

The North Wind & the Sun

The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak.

“Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.”

“Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler.

With the first gust of wind the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain.

Then the Sun began to shine. At first his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the Traveler unfastened his cloak and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. The Sun’s rays grew warmer and warmer. The man took off his cap and mopped his brow. At last he became so heated that he pulled off his cloak, and, to escape the blazing sunshine, threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside.

Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail.

Romans 2:4 asks, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

I like to rephrase that verse a little bit, since the word “repent” has become so much a part of that religious fog which keeps us blind to the truth. To me, the word falls flat and heavy, like the sound of a massive iron bell falling into soft earth. It evokes images of great disapproval or the yelling of street preachers of hellfire and brimstone. It weighs me down, as it’s designed to do. It might motivate change for a while, but for all the wrong reasons. Painting a picture of God and the world that is just a bubble off the truth.

One author explains, “In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nacham (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as ‘repentance’ is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), “after/behind one’s mind“, which is a compound word of the preposition ‘meta’ (after, with), and the verb ‘noeo’ (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word, the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by ‘after’ and ‘different’; so that the whole compound means: ‘to think differently after’. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind and change of conduct, “change of mind and heart”, or, “change of consciousness”.” So I like to paraphrase Romans 2:4 this way, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that it is the kindness of God which leads you to a change of heart and mind?” You thought one way before, and now you think a different way. The trajectory of your life changed forever.

Romans 8:15 clearly describes how God views his relationship to us. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” “Abba” is translated “Daddy” or “Papa” and is the intimate, endearing, and very trusting term a child uses when addressing his Father. “Daddy, can you help me?” or “Pick me up, Pappa” might be some examples where the more formal “Father” or the casual “Dad” would never work. It suggests safety and love, protection and help, closeness and belonging. I am his. He is mine. It is the very same term Jesus used when he prayed himself in Mark 14:36. “Abba, Father,” He said, “all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

“Daddy, help me.” And great tears of Love fell like raindrops of blood.

Therefore it is not the Judgement of God which leads us to change, but it is the Kindness of an Abba God. (Daddy, Papa God – as one who is passionate about us, loves us, and is fiercely protective of our hearts).

If it is God’s kindness that leads to a change of heart and mind, let us take it a bit further. It is known that how we treat ourselves (by ourselves I am referring to our very inner world. The you of very you) is directly tied to how we view and treat other people. Imagine that kindness is the fertile ground which promotes the growth and fruit in your life. How many of us are unkind to ourselves? When we fail. When we struggle. When we look in the mirror. When we examine ourselves. If honest about it, we do not treat ourselves well. Our inner dialog (and our outer if we talk to ourselves) sounds angry and hard. We name ourselves “stupid”, “ugly”, or “weak”. We stuff our grief and sorrow, telling our heart to suck it up. We berate ourselves for feeling so deeply for so long. We treat ourselves in ways we wouldn’t dream of treating another person. Our ground is hardpacked earth. It is difficult for anything good to grow.

Having a right view of who God is and what he thinks of you is vitally important, because it influences what we believe and thus how we act toward him, ourselves, and others. Unless we abandon ourselves to discovering who God is and how he views us as our Abba, we will miss the depth of his loving kindness and continue the struggle to make ourselves into what we imagine is acceptable. It begins with a search from the deepest parts of you to find out who God really is. Like you might begin any friendship, it has a beginning and progresses onward like an infinite journey. You introduce yourself, and know immediately that nothing about you has ever been hidden from him. Your friendship grows through time spent and attention paid. You begin to recognize him in the world around you and there are more invitations to further exploration and deeper intimacy. Each step of friendship requires more vulnerability, risk taking, and deeper levels of trust. You are sowing your seeds of friendship in the fertile ground of love, and reaping a crop of intimacy and belonging. You accept. You are accepted. You have always been accepted. Then, slowly, the attentive kindness of your adoring Pappa changes you.

Love’s Secret

“This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Henri Nouwen writes, “These words revealed the true identity of Jesus as the beloved. Jesus truly heard that voice, and all of his thoughts, words, and actions came forth from his deep knowledge that he was infinitely loved by God. Jesus lived his life from that inner place of love…I know now that the words spoken to Jesus when he was baptized are words spoken also to me.”

I wake some days with a hint of sadness hovering around my inner world like early morning mist that gathers in the low places. The mist is tinted with colors of regret and guilt from the past, and carry on it the scents of my present inadequacies and shortcomings. I lay in the dark of morning wondering about the coming day, wondering if these sorrows will grow into a dense fog that I cannot navigate, or if the warmth of the rising sun will simply evaporate them into nothingness. I finally rise and with cup of coffee in hand sit with Jesus a while. Being with him reminds me, as Nouwen observed, that I am the beloved. I need reminding of that it seems like every moment of every day. I am so quick to forget. So quick to turn back to my old way of being. Turning back to continual self-hatred, self-condemnation, and self-recrimination. I wander throughout my inner world, my nose in the air with criticisms and critiques, viewing perceived flaws without compassion.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “What is the sign of a friend? That he tells you secret sorrows? No, that he tells you secret joys. Many will confide to you their secret sorrows, but the last mark of intimacy is to confide secret joys. Have we ever let God tell us any of his secret joys…?” When I hear Jesus say to me, “You are my Beloved. I am so in love with you, and always have been, just who you are in each present moment of your life.”, I am arrested in my wanderings of false righteousness by the unselfconscious love of God. It changes me. Rather, what changes me is the belief of what he says. His secret joy is me. Only he knows my inner world fully. The light and dark. The mountains and valleys. The almost infinite shades of me. He is intimately acquainted with all of me and yet says “I love you” to me with the utmost sincerity and truth. I am his secret joy. My heart delights him, and his heart is the heart of God.

The mists of sorrow melt away in the warm rays of his furious love for me, and bathe my inner landscape with newness of morning light, placing in sharp relief the beauty of every dewdrop tear and grassy blade on my prairie of experiences. My brooding Mountains of Inadequacy are transformed as God’s lovelight defines their created majesty against the blue sky of his smile. He made me, and declared with joy, “It is very good.”

Abiding every moment in Abba God’s love, I am no longer of the world, but only in it. No longer am I concerned with how the world views me, but can walk the gift of this life in the freedom of the beloved. Living my life as the beloved, I walk with the confidence of fully belonging. I am perfectly and wonderfully made for this life and for this time. What I have to offer is good because he is good and he is in me. It is the most important thing I can believe about myself. That his words are true, and his words to me are, “I love you.”.

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The Nearness of Love

“Set me as a seal upon Your heart, as a seal upon Your arm, for Love is strong as death, Jealousy is fierce as the grave. It’s flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench Love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for Love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.” 1

“…I am with you always…” 2

Outside my window, Spring has arrived. She has begun painting bright green buds in varying shades on the trees and shrubs, sprinkling some with light reds, pinks, and whites. She dips her hand in her basket and scatters wildflowers on the ground as if there is no cost. She takes out her atomizer and perfumes the earth with abandon, skipping here and there, stopping to mist fragrance in a particular place before moving on to do it elsewhere. The perennial flowers, grasses, buds, and evergreens soak in the rich, damp earth, coming alive to pollenate and grow. Birds welcome her enthusiastically with their many songs of busy preparation. Deer and rabbit thank her for the generous supply of tender green shoots, twitching their tails in contented grazing. Furry creatures of all types run and play in Spring’s fresh light, breathing her clean, damp air and drinking in the energy it provides. Others simply lay soaking in the warming rays of her sun, lidded eyes half shut in contentment as flying insects go about their meandering way.

I, too, deeply breathe the air of Spring, my open window an invitation to the influence of her work. I smell the rich earth and feel the tickle of pollen in my nose. However aware my other senses are of Spring’s arrival, my eyes are blind to her this morning. There is beauty and magic everywhere, yet I am unable to see it. My eyes are turned inward. My mind is running, full of today’s goals and tomorrow’s plans. There is so much I am waiting for to happen. So many details to work out. So much arranging to do.

I feel a hand on my shoulder, at the same time sensing a familiar Presence. I hadn’t been aware of it before, but, now with the hand there, I notice the tension in my neck and shoulders. I am not surprised. There is much on my mind and heart this morning. My Friend’s hand rests there as we stand in silence at the window looking out. My tight shoulder feels the realness of his hand. I am drawn slowly from my burdensome reverie by the comfort of his touch. My mind and heart begin to slow in the abiding quiet of his nearness. Then, suddenly, like a deflated balloon, my neck, shoulders, and then whole being relaxes. I am safe. I am His.

He is here.

The thought grew out of the dry cracks of my heart like a budding rose as I hear him say softly, “I am with you.” A smile escapes from within my heart, landing softly on my lips. It is the smile of a child, unconcerned with many things because he is carried by his Father. It is the smile of Belonging.

My Friend turns from the window and stoops to gather the burdens I left at his feet. Lifting them without effort he heads to the door. “Follow Me!”, he calls back. And so I do. With a new heart, I skip shamelessly outside to walk with him into a new day. The sounds of pleasant conversation following us like a fragrant breeze as we travel the road of his choosing.

Spring smiles happily after us.

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1 SS 8:6,7paraphrased and capitalized for emphasis

2 Matt 28:20partial

Love’s Question

One of the biggest questions on the subject of “Enoughness” is, “What does God think of me?”. It is a question pulled from the depths of our heart, crying out from the place where our inner child is hidden away from the world. It is the question born from a heart that is bound up and walled in by feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and fear.

“What does God think of me?”

It is important to know the true answer. We will believe something, and what we believe is vitally important to how we view ourselves in relation to God, the world we live in , and the people with which we interact. If we believe that, “God puts up with me, is usually disappointed with me, and loves me because he has to – he’s God.”, the way we treat ourselves and walk the journey of life will reflect that belief. We beat ourselves up for being too much of something, or not enough of another thing because of our belief that there is an attainable ideal person. We think we talk too much, are not extroverted enough, or are embarrassed by our own personality, and constantly work to change or improve ourselves after the manner we think will be acceptable. In doing so, we seek to answer the question with our own truth. If I do this, or become that, I will be more acceptable to God (and others). Perhaps you even tie it to the extending or withholding of God’s blessings on you – imagining he’s like a King who holds out his scepter to you in approval, or withdraws it in disapproval. What you believe is important and directly affects how you live this life – in chains or in freedom.

I like to start with this truth. God seeks for you.

Why is that important? Because it answers the question of desire. Does he desire me because I desire him? Does he love me because I am trying hard to be lovable? The answer of desire is this: “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son…” (1 John 4:10) Stop for a moment and repeat that familiar verse until it becomes the very fabric of your heart. “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us…” HE pursues YOU. Firstly, we do not pursue things which have no value to us. We are made by him in his image. He does not pursue things which have no value to him. Secondly, He is our Maker. Now, don’t get lost in the fog of religion and “church talk” when you read this. This is as real as breakfast. He made you on purpose. That speaks specifically to design. Think of something you have created or designed by your own hands and with your own mind that really gave you a sense of pride. It didn’t matter if anyone even knew you did it, but it was so good that you felt good seeing it. That is a dim version of how God feels every day he sees you. You. He is so proud of YOU. He made you and dances with joy to see you. It is no wonder his heart desires good things for us and hurts desperately for us when we go our own way. So desperately that he made a plan by which we could find freedom – even in our sinful condition. That’s kindness, and the very kindness which leads us to change our minds about ourselves and him.

Let’s talk about kindness. His to you, and yours to yourself. Never treat your heart, your true self, in any way contrary to God’s view of you. The way to avoid this is to daily remind yourself of who he is and who you are to him. You will find that what you believe at your very core will change how you see God, treat yourself, and relate to others. There are present wounds, I know, many of which seem at odds with what I have just said. Do not rely on your emotions or experiences to determine truth. Believe first, and invite Him into those dark places and you will be surprised by Kindness.

You were made for today. God desired you first. God is proud of what he made. You are not too much. You are not too little. You are enough. I say that about the true you. The you that only you and God see. I do not speak of sin or sin-nature, because he has made the way for your sin-self to be killed. Crucified as Jesus was, yet remaining dead. It need not be your master any longer. Who serves a dead master, after all? No, I speak of the inner person, the soul, the true you that was fearfully and wonderfully made. He really, really loves you. He is so proud of what he made. You are unique. You are a treasure. Believe it.

Stop trying to become. What you have to offer is unique and needed today. No one else has your mix of personality, desire, passion, experiences, body, and heart. All of it gives you the ability to walk through your time in history with confidence and freedom. This world needs you! Why else were you specifically created and living today? Find your passion and embrace your Maker. Let him hold you close as you listen to his heart beat for you. Release the inner child bound deep inside and regain the wonder-filled heart of your birth. You belong.

Intimacy with God results in the good kind of change, and we are the ones most surprised by it. Find Him. He’s already looking for you.

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Invitation to Union

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You are the God who includes. You are all-powerful and deserving of all praise and glory, yet you come to us with an invitation. Walk with Me, learn with Me, suffer with Me, die with Me, be raised up with Me, dance with Me, glory with Me. With. Me. There is the invitation. Come with Me. Follow Me. Dine with Me. Be joined to Me. The Father, Son, and Spirit are one complete divine Fellowship of Belonging, yet You don’t stop there. The mystery of connection has also been woven by You into the very fabric of humanity. We are created as infinite souls with the spark of Divine Romance in our hearts. We are made with Love, by Love, for Love.

In unspeakable humility You came to us. From limitless power to helpless infant. From Prince to pauper. You came for us. You pursued us. Why? What is Your desire? What longing is found in Your heart that compels You? 

“Father, I desire those you gave me to be with me, right where I am, so they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, having loved me long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never truly known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very heart known to them – who you are and what you do – and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them and I in them.” John 17:24-26

His desire is for relationship. It is as simple as that. His longing is to be truly known just as he is, to be loved and desired in return, to do life together with us in the comfort of companionship, to have his good heart toward us be returned back to him in kind. Friendship. Intimacy. Union.

He gave us pictures of his desire everywhere we look. It is woven into the fabric of our being. It is the arms of our parents when we are born. It is the connection of our first real friendship. It is our first school crush. It is the momentary glimpse of completeness in a lover’s eyes. First dates. 101st dates. Long, silent walks holding hands. Meals together. Warm, intimate gatherings with friends. Shared laughter. Shared tears. Connection.

God is not Religion. He is a living Personality.

The answer to the question, “How can we know Him?”, is just this simple. Come to Him. Spend time with Him. Know the Father by seeing Jesus whom he sent. Do life with Him. Plan dates to be alone with Him. Provide for intimate moments, as we do in every relationship that is important to us. Share our deepest thoughts with Him, and listen to the Father’s heartbeat as he holds us close. We must stop trying to be good enough. We must believe in His good heart for us and lose ourselves in His ever-present, inexorable Love. We must understand that this longing from which we cannot escape is also His own. We are made for each other.

His desire is you.

“You will seek Me and find me when you search for me with your whole heart” Jer. 29:13

“I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” SS 7:10

Stories of Love

It is a revelation to read the scriptures in the warm glow of my Father’s passionate love for me. I read the stories and see myself in the hearts of those whom Jesus touched:

I am the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda, who longed for healing but for many slow, hard years found no one to help him do what he could not do himself. Jesus came and with a Act of Love set me free.

I am the Prodigal Son, who only saw his Father as a stern rulemaker and wanted out from under that all-seeing Eye of Disapproval. He left home with his Father’s money and spent his way into complete inner poverty. I shuffled home in rags, and, falling to my knees, discovered with surprise the eager forgiveness of my Father’s Love. His happy tears on my neck revealed a longing Love that was for me from the beginning.

I am the woman at the well, a broken trail of relationships in her wake and living a lie. Ashamed, an outcast, laboring under the burdens I created, Jesus came and told me everything I had done. All my deeds spilled from his lips, yet His tone was so different from any voice I had ever heard. He knew everything. Things not even my harshest critics new. Things I had hidden even from my own accusing heart. Yet, when He spoke there was no sense of condemnation. Instead, His voice wrapped me in the warm embrace of compassion and a deep, abiding understanding. He saw me for who I truly was and did not turn away. He gave me the courage to extend compassion to my own heart of hearts, and to not be afraid of truth.

I am Abraham. Asked to do something by God which seemed antithetical to His nature. Walking up the mountain with my son to sacrifice the thing I held dearest to my heart. Was He the most important thing to me, or was it my own precious reputation. Was He enough? God introduced Himself to me that day, and surprised me with Union.

I am the rich young ruler, captivated by Jesus, but lacking that one last step to complete abandonment. Going all the way to the edge, unable to leap. Coming to the open door, hesitant to walk through. Not sure of the cost. Fearful of loss. Worried about the wild ways of freedom. By the grace and kindness of Jesus, I have sometimes taken that last step and found myself in a terrifying, exhilarating freefall into the safe acceptance and furious love of God.

I am the disciple Jesus loved, leaning on His chest and soaking in every bit of who He is while I can. Held captive by a love I do not understand.

I am Peter, the Water Walker who is all-in, but easily loses focus. I am Peter the Rock, who knows the bitter loneliness of failure and shame, who’s heart is pursued by Jesus and firmly assured of His eternal friendship, and who now understands the power of compassion.

I am the orphan who belongs, the widow who is cared for, the captive who has been set free, the broken who has been made whole, the lost who is found, the lame who walks, the blind who sees, the destitute who has everything, and the dead who lives. And so are all who have been touched by the living personality of Jesus. A lifetime would not be enough time to write who He is to me, but I feel if I can just introduce you to Him, He will give you in abundance what I cannot.

“Summoning a certain two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’…And He answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the good news preached to them. Blessed is he whoever does not take offense at Me.'” Luke 7:19, 22&23

Lovingkindness

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

“Abide with Me.”

I am complete in you, Jesus. I agree with you that I am enough. I am loved passionately. You delight in the me of this present moment.

I walk away from my less-wild lovers. I long for intimacy of heart with You. I will allow pain to be present and lay it before you like a child bringing a broken toy to his father. Like a child I come, vulnerable and trusting.

Your words to me are salve to my pain. Your words heal my brokenness. Your passion pours out like wine for me to drink and become intoxicated by your Love. I lean into You, compelled by sorrow into your compassionate embrace. You are the Lover of My Soul. In You I find rest.

Thank You for stress, struggle, and sorrow, for without them I would not come to know You. Thank You for beauty, rest, and joy, for without them I would not come to know You.

If my world crumbles in darkness around me, I am loved by You. If the sun shines brightly with hope, I am loved by you.

Thank You for giving me yourself instead of answers. If I had the choice between friendship with You or having my questions answered, I would choose knowing and being known by You.

You love me with wild passion and long jealously for my heart. You invite and receive me as I am, where I am with eager tenderness every time.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

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The Cost of Love

“Going a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.” Mark 1:19,20

If we accept the invitation of Jesus to journey with Him, it will cost other people more than it costs us; and that is the point of indecision. If we are captivated by the love of Jesus, leaving everything and following Him is freedom and an exciting anticipation of going with Him into the Wild. We do not feel it cost us anything. But if we go, it will cost others dearly.

The invitation “follow Me” is rarely seen as a call to leave something terrible for something better. It is often a call to leave something safe for something dangerous; to leave something known for the unknowable; to leave something which makes sense for something that seems foolish. It is a call to courage. It is the Wild One asking you to join His band of misfits and sinners.

If we follow this wild Son of Man it will mean that other people’s plans will be upset. Some may even cast dispersions on your decision to go and do. We can prevent the disruption; but if we are going to follow Him with our whole heart, we must not do so, we need to let it be.

“He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'”Genesis 22:2

The hesitation we may feel is often a result of the pride of reputation and the great weight we place on the thoughts of others toward us which digs in like an anchor, slowing our movements. We do not wish to be viewed in any negative light or have “good people” think us foolish or wrong. We do not wish, either, for others to suffer because of us, but our journey with Jesus grinds to a halt when we decide to bear the weight of the cost ourselves. We cannot.

We are such an integral part of the story God is telling that the moment we obey His call, other people’s lives are disrupted. Our pride discourages us from accepting this consequence, but we must accept the humiliation of walking the dusty road with the Man of Sorrows. We must forget what is behind and press forward into the unknown, as we allow the Joy of Him who Loves Us to fill our hearts and minds. Walking like children into the exciting unknown, where anything is possible and magic becomes ordinary.

If we choose to go the way which causes the least amount of pain to others, we will be immediately relieved like the Prodigal with his pocketful of inheritance. But if we follow our heart into the road less travelled and accept the invitation of our Lover, He will supply the needs of those who have been conscripted into the consequences of our choice.

“So Peter, seeing the disciple whom Jesus loved, said to Jesus, ‘What about this man?’ Jesus said to Peter, ‘…what is that to you? You follow Me!'”John 21:21,22

Jesus does not ask anything of us which He has not first done Himself. His obedience to the call of God brought much suffering to other people. He leads us by going first, guiding us toward the only thing that matters. The heart of Abba Father. His eyes were so fixed on His relationship with Abba, that nothing mattered as much as Him. He completely trusted the Father to take care of those whose lives were intimately affected by His obedience.

Be careful you do not come to Jesus with a list of conditions for the adventure He calls you to. He knows the way He is going, so abide in Him and the story He is telling for you. He cares for others just as He cares for you, and will arrange things in His way in His time.

“But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said the the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”John 19:25-27

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