Prayer of the Rescued

Open my eyes to see you, truly. Open my ears to hear you, clearly. Open my heart to know you completely. Let me explore your heart; I desire to explore the farthest reaches of its inner landscape and to know it intimately. Let me hear your sweet voice and recognize your love for me in its many inflections. Let me feel your gentle touch and the safety of your strong arms around me.

I see your generous gifts to me and am overwhelmed by extravagance. I read the love-notes you leave for me. Your heart for me is revealed in every letter. Your pursuit of me is never-ending. I feel your passion for me and my heart bursts with happiness. Questions fade and troubles lose their power over me as I look into your face and see the delight in your eyes when I come to you.

What can happen that is strong enough to stop your tidal wave of love from crashing on my shores? What question needs an answer when I am so well known and adored by you?

You are my answer, and my striving is rendered foolish in your presence. Your forgiveness is like the warm, morning sun, faithfully rising again in each new day as if for the first time. Your gifts are like the seasons, each unique and beautiful as they arrive. Your love is like the sky, reaching out to endless galaxies beyond time.

You are beautiful. Your heart is mine, and my heart is yours. You have dreamed me into existence and made me. You see me and so love me with a furious longing. I dance like a cork on the breakers of your love, aware of the unsearchable depths beneath me. No matter how much love you give, there is infinitely more available to me.

I was lost on a stormy sea, grasping for my things to keep them from floating away. My possessions, my heath, my family, my reputation, my pride. Striving to gather them close, splashing and swimming frantically to keep them near. Holding on to them to keep from sinking. I was afraid. I cried out for help. You called to me and I heard your voice out of the deep. I let go of everything and became still. I sank into the depths; further and further down I went until I was overcome and drowned. You came to where I was and brought me up. You rescued me and made me new. You gave life back to me. You gave me yourself, holding nothing back. Your loving kindness changed my heart. I saw desire for me in your eyes. You made me well, then you set me free.

This Me of Very Me delights you. With you, I am free to dream and create, to love vulnerably and connect without fear, to walk boldly, to live truly, to laugh joyfully, and to dance wildly. I drink from the cup of your love until I am senseless. I drink and thirst no more.

I eagerly wait for the sound of your voice in the morning and evening, while I work and play, and as I live and love. I love you, Jesus. Thank you for showing the heart of Abba Father to me.

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Turning to Love

With heavy feet I walk home, my thoughts confused. Kicking a pebble down the path in front of me, I cannot drown out the voices of accusation. I cannot even defend myself, for I had been wrong. I had done wrong. But home was my safe place. Home was where my Friend was. My Friend! How can I face Him? He must be so disappointed in me.

Hands in my pockets, I walk as the thought of meeting him today begins to sink in. I love our times together. (I’ve told you this many times so you might be tired of hearing it) Sitting by the fire, talking about everything and nothing, often lapsing into silence. Silence with Him is that comfortable stillness you can only get with those you know well and with whom you are at ease and safe. I look forward to those times with the deepest longing of my heart, but as I draw closer to the door, my apprehension grows. What am I thinking? After what I’ve done, he’s not going to want to spend time with me! I should give things time to cool off, and then visit later. Maybe he’ll have forgotten, or I will have forgotten. That might be better. My legs feel weak, my feet heavy, and the shame is something I can almost taste as my heart burns. I hate this. Why do I do what I don’t want to do? Why do I do the very thing I hate? I should turn around now, and walk the other way. We can get together another time.

I look up, suddenly, from my distraction and see with dread that I have come to the door. My feet have taken me home in spite of myself. I almost turn and walk away, but am stopped by the sound of singing from inside and the familiar smell of woodsmoke rising from the hearth. He often sings, and I love to hear that happy sound. It reminds me of being a child and hearing the laughter of my parents, an affirmation that all was well. He must be preparing for my arrival. My heart beats it’s heavy rhythm. My hand feels like it weighs 50 pounds as I finally lift it to knock.

Before my knuckles are able to contact the door, it falls away, eagerly opened from the inside. My eyes fall, downcast. Words die in my throat. My palms are sweaty. His arms are around me in a moment, and I am pulled inside as he shuts the door behind us. He is speaking excitedly, and finally I begin to hear his words.

“I am so happy to see you! These times where it’s just you and me are some of my favorite! Sit! Can I get you a drink? Relax, I’ll be back with something for you in a moment.”

Dropping into my cozy chair, I take a deep breath, thinking of how to explain things to Him. He quickly returns, handing me my drink then easing into the chair across from me. He takes a sip from the glass in his hand with a sigh of pleasure, his eyes looking over the rim at me. They are full of laughter and delight! He practically vibrates with excitement, like a child on Christmas morning. I allow myself a smile in return, his infectious love irresistible.

We stare into the dancing flames for a while as we enjoy our drinks, our silence kept company by the snapping fire. I let out a breath.

At my sigh he looks up, and after another moment he says, “You know, Beautiful Soul, I love you just as you are.”

Eyes filling with tears, I meet his gaze, and suddenly I’m telling him everything. I know he already knows, but I want him to hear it from me. He listens quietly as I unburden my heart, his kind eyes never leaving my face. I said, “I’m so sorry. It is not what I wanted to do, but I did it anyway. Will you please forgive me?”

He smiled, and I notice his own eyes glistening. “My Beloved, I forgave you before you did anything. There is no need to think about it any more. I am so very glad you did not cancel our time together! I would have really missed seeing you, and would have had to go out looking for you! It is so much nicer to be sitting here sharing in this warm place than out there in the cold together.”

He raises his glass in a toast. “To Intimate Fellowship and coming Home.” I raise mine in return as my eyes meet his. “Cheers.”

And we begin to sing….

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Living Love

Jesus is patient, he is kind and is not envious: he does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly: he does not seek his own praise, is not easily angered, does not keep a record of wrongs done against him, does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, always trusting his Father, looking for the best in others, never looking back, and enduring until the end.

His life here on earth as the Son of Man was lived so that we might see with better clarity who the Father is. God. I Am. Abba. The living person of Jesus reveals the heart of the Almighty. And his heart is revealed, surprising us, not as a strict Schoolmaster or Warden of Law, but as a Wild Lover. Jesus shows us that we are the pursued Beauty in a Sacred Romance, that the object of God’s desire is you and me. His heart’s longing is for us to know him and live in intimate relationship with him – Father, Son, and Spirit. It is an eternal invitation to Oneness, an invitation that was extended the moment we were conceived. It is the truth of our inalienable Belonging and a point of decision, whether we accept His invitation or reject the truest thing about us. Believing the truth that we are enough and adored just as we are in each present moment by the Lover of Our Soul.

Jesus demonstrates the compassion God feels for us in our weakness and sickness, and how it moves him to action on our behalf. Jesus shows us how kind God is in the tender way he treats the children who come to him, and how he eagerly heals the wounded souls who desperately reach for the hem of his cloak in hope. Jesus displays to us the anger of God at the injustice and thievery allowed to take place in his temple, and at the excessive burdens religious leaders place on his lost children. Jesus pours out the overabundant generosity of God, never providing only just enough, but giving extravagantly beyond what is practically necessary. He shows us that our physical needs are important to him, as he is the one who made us and understands every need we have. He also shows us that our physical needs are not needs at all, when compared with our starving souls need for his living presence. Jesus shows us that God cries harder and sorrows deeper over us than we do. He reveals the restorative and redemptive desires of a Good Father toward wayward sons. His forgiveness is for all, and he greatly rejoices at finding every lost sheep, no matter when. He continually goes before us in suffering, sacrifice, and even death. He shares everything with us, never selfish or stingy, always inclusive. He does not care what your profession, the checkered mess of your present or past, how much money you have, how important or smart you are, what you look like, or your personality. You and I are welcome just as we are, even more, we are Desired. We are delighted in.

Jesus came to make clear to us that God is not a doctrine to study, he is not a timeline to understand, he is not words carved on stone tablets. God is relationship. Connection. Fellowship. Personality. Our Father feels, desires, longs, hurts, and loves. He does not offer himself partially, but fully opens himself in unselfconscious love to us. He risks his heart in reckless abandon to possible and likely rejection and hurt. His love is that passionate kind that lovers know. A drunk-love which knows no reason, but lays itself bare to be loved in return. A risky love. God as revealed by Jesus wants nothing less than present moment union with you and me, and to be known by us through his Beloved, the living Jesus. He risks everything for that. He gave his only Son for that. God so loved….God is love.

We will never see God in full clarity, during our journey in this life, but what we do experience of Jesus is breathtaking. It is possible to know the sun’s brilliance, but only be able to look directly at it with dark sunglasses. We feel it’s warmth, we see the growth and life it produces, we see by it’s light. We experience the sun, but cannot look intently at it with bare lenses. Paul (formerly a persecutor of Jesus) observes, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face: now we know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” And that will be glory.

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Known

Father in Heaven, Abba. Daddy. Lover of my Soul.

You tell me “do not worry, have no fear”, and marvel at my lack of faith. I am easily distracted and my heart tries to ease it’s longings with many things. You let me go, your love being childlike in its willingness to forgive every slight every time. I come to you as I am, in my mess. You hold me and tell me I am healed and forgiven.

Oh, what crazy love is this that holds no grudge?!! What furious love is this that forgives every time I come to You?!!

My plaintive cry out of the fog is desperate. “What do YOU think of me?” You have created my inward parts. You have designed my personality. You see my heart. You know me with complete intimacy. Every thought. All my movements. There is nothing in my life that is hidden from you.

I silence myself before You. My heart grows still.

Out of the quiet You speak. “I am so very fond of you.”

My heart leaps at the sound of Your voice.

“When I made you, I danced with joy and said ‘it is good!’ I did not make you like anyone else. You are unique. I adore you. You are mine.”

My heart is light. I am a child being adored by his father.

How can I worry in the face of such wild love. Knowing the heart of Abba for me prevents it. I am cared for by the Great Lover, with whom all things are possible. I trust His good heart for me, and faith becomes the fruit I did not work to produce. I know He will move everything to capture my heart. His face is turned toward me in love. My heart is His.

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Wandering Thoughts

My mind wanders in the crazies ways while in the silent reflection of time with You. Strange inner conversations and scenes play out in my mind, interrupting our time together. Stealing precious moments of intimacy.

I snap back to the present and smile ruefully at my own silliness. I look at your face, half-expecting to find impatience or annoyance at me for my weakness, but when You look back at me I see delight in your eternal eyes.

You are a Father watching his child play, happy that your beloved sought you out and is safe in your love and acceptance. Safe enough to be distracted. Happy and at ease in your nearness.

You wrap me in your arms and hold me close. You reassure me and your compassion heals me. I am Yours.

Be Still

The power I draw from Abba, Father, each day as a result of abiding in Him is the very same power from which Jesus drew as the Son of Man.

“Oh, you of little faith!” is spoken of me. In faith and belief that Power is mine. I believe the result of that power in me would be (and is) humility. Recognizing how infinite the power and finite my faith or capacity to believe.

It is no wonder Jesus sought time alone with God, and why he was so incredulous at the unbelief of the people who witnessed firsthand that power at work.

Time alone with Abba (Daddy), the The Immovable Rock who is daily moved with compassion. The Cheerful Giver who provides beauty and forgiveness in wasteful extravagance. The Adoring Father whose eyes shine with pride at the soul he has made.

Be still my soul. Press into the arms of the One who knows. Hear his heartbeat and let go of fear, worry, and doubt. Abide, fully, in this present moment. Safe and secure. Loved.

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Point of Turning

Who is a Chef? Is it one who knows the most recipes by heart and owns the biggest cookbook library? Who is a Warrior? Is it one who has completed basic training and graduated West Point, tough, fresh faced, eyes bright with knowledge? Who is a Carpenter? Is it the one who owns the most tools and is well-read on building techniques? Who is a Student? Is it one who has been enrolled in classes with a backpack full of textbooks?

In order to be named, there must come a point of turning where theory becomes practice, knowledge becomes action, and tools are put to work. That moment you engage and risk it all for something greater than you. That moment you drive your first nail to build a house, shoot your first bullet in war, break your first egg to make an omelette, or study for your first exam to earn a degree. There is a moment where dreams must become blood, sweat, and tears; where you must step off the ledge, off the cliff into nothing but air. That is the moment you begin to be Named.

The first step of turning from student to master, from recruit to veteran, from dream to reality must be taken with your whole heart. With everything you are. And taking a step of any kind is a movement toward action. It is turning from the reflection to the real. The beautiful image of a tree reflected in a still lake is real in the way it stirs you, yet it is not the same as feeling with your fingertips the complex texture of its bark as you bask in the cool shade it provides while its branches whisper softly above your head. There is something wonderful and inspiring in reading about an amazing personality, but it is altogether different to come into the presence of that person to know them. There is knowledge, and there is knowing. I can tell you every wonderful attribute my wife possesses so that you feel you know her, yet no description will begin to touch the actual living experience of being loved by her and spending intimate moments in her company. The first step is an invitation to risk. An unsafe step. An unknowable future. That first step must be taken wholeheartedly or not at all. You must jump in with both feet, recklessly abandoning safety. There is no half-way. It is all or not-at-all. This is the way of Passion. This is the way of Jesus. 

The All God became All Man. Jesus refers to himself the most as “Son of Man”, not Son of God, not King of Kings, not I Am. Completely emptying himself of Divinity, he became not just a man, but a Servant of Men. He jumped in with both aching feet, walking miles on dusty roads, healing the sick, touching the unclean, washing the dirty feet of confused friends, crying over a city who should have recognized him but didn’t. Jesus became utterly Man, holding nothing back in his rejection of Divine Rights. He humbled himself even to the point of experiencing the greatest indignity of mankind. Death. And not the peaceful death of long life and old age, but the violent death of the worst criminal. He abandoned himself to the task of showing us the heart of his Father. Compassionate, kind, wholly open to the risk of loving with no guarantee of that love being returned. The point of turning from being merely a person who knows about historical Jesus to being a person who knows personally the living Jesus enters the same narrow gate of risky abandon through which Jesus walked. “If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Be prepared for that gate to look nothing like what you expect.

It is not reserved only for the worst among us to discover freedom in the breathtaking compassion of Jesus. “How hard it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Those rich in spiritual knowledge, Christian heritage, Biblical worldview, and church culture will often find it harder to recognize their desperate need than the thief on the cross hanging next to an innocent Jesus. “Who will love him more, the one who was forgiven little, or the one who was forgiven much?” This question from the lips of Jesus is directed toward a respected church member, not the ragged drunkard lying in a gutter. It points an uncomfortable finger toward the good man and his blindness. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a good man to let go of his good reputation to follow the Great Disrupter. But with God all things are possible, and I bear witness to that truth. The first step toward Jesus is off a cliff without your carefully packed parachute. It is a freefall into the relentless adoration of Jesus for you exactly as you are. It is letting go with both fists the heavy weights of false self and tearing down the whitewashed walls you have built to protect your heart, in order to reveal your true self to Jesus. Your vulnerable self. Your broken self. Your inconsistent self. Your foolish self. Your bruised self. Your wounded self. Your needy self. It is drowning those self’s in the healing waters of Jesus’ furious love for you, and being raised up with your new name as his Beloved. It is losing yourself in his Sacred Romance for you and being set free. Jesus invites, “Come to Me all you who labor, carrying heavy burdens. I will give you rest! Take my burden upon your shoulders instead, and learn of Me, for I am approachable with a heart of humility and compassion. In Me you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden light!”

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Thank You

Dearest Abba, Father in Heaven, Lover of my Soul,

Thank you for taking the time to create me. Thank you for putting your mark on me. Thank you for placing in me something of you that the world needs.

Thank you for weaving into the fabric of my heart a thread of longing that yearns only for you. Thank you for all the threads which together create the unique tapestry of me.

Thank you for my inconsistencies. Thank you for my weakness. Thank you for my foolishness. Thank you for the things which prevent me from taking myself too seriously.

Thank you for play. Thank you for big grins and belly laughs. Thank you for children’s giggles. Thank you for shared jokes and glad hearts. Thank you for being you with me.

Thank you for beauty. Thank you for craggy mountains and waving grasses. Thank you for wind, and how it makes trees dance and whisper together. Thank you for endless waves and still waters. Thank you for red deserts and blue skies. Thank you for the silence of winter and whiteness of snow. Thank you for making this earth and hiding pieces of yourself in everything for me to find. Thank you for saying, “It is good”.

Thank you for the impractical. Thank you for the unpredictable. Thank you for surprises. Thank you for adventure. Thank you for sharing your own wild nature with me.

Thank you for pain. Thank you for sorrow and tears. Thank you for depth of feeling. Thank you for wounds. Thank you for sickness. Thank you for those things which reveal my need for you. Thank you for those hurts which drive me into your arms. Thank you for the failures through which I experience your tender compassion. Thank you for need.

Thank you for unanswered questions. Thank you for waiting. Thank you for silence. Thank you for filling those spaces with yourself.

Thank you for war. Thank you for difficulties. Thank you for challenges. Thank you for hiding greatness within me. Thank you for revealing that there is more to me than I know. Thank you for dark storms which precede morning flowers.

Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for seeing me as I am and adoring me.

Thank you for friendship. Thank you for belonging. Thank you for those people whose lives intersect with mine in comfortable fellowship. Thank you for inviting me to be yours.

Thank you for love. Thank you for vulnerability. Thank you for openness. Thank you for freedom. Thank you for making me enough. Thank you for revealing your heart for me.

Come near to me. Show me you. In you is rest. In you I am home.

Amen.

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To Be Seen

Imagine, for a moment, you are sick, broken, haunted by demons of the past and present. Imagine that you are lost in the fog of hurt, and don’t really know who you truly are. Imagine yourself bent over with pain and bleeding from a thousand tiny cuts. You are walking a dusty road, not sure where you are going. You have reached the end of yourself and the hope that life used to offer.

And then you hear a rumor. There is this man…..

Long dead ashes of hope are suddenly warmed by a forgotten ember. Your dead eyes spark feebly with life at the thought there might be Someone who can help.

Imagine you begin to pick up your tired feet once more, the dust of the road forgotten as you search place after place for this Man. You follow the news of his movements, and listen to the stories of healing. You doubt some, but think there must be truth there somewhere. You so desperately want the stories to be true.

Who is this Man, and where is he to be found?

Imagine you are weary. Tired of the pain. So, so tired. You finally sit down in the dirt beside the road, face in your hands, and begin to cry.

Imagine the crowd walking by, not seeing, not knowing, not understanding; each so distracted by their own concerns they fail to notice one more tear-stained face sitting dejectedly beside the road. One set of footsteps stop suddenly near you, but you don’t notice.

Imagine Jesus saw you just then. Imagine his eyes, as they are scanning the crowd of hurting hearts, stop on you. He’s looking at you. Seeing you.

“And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all.

When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed from your sickness.’ And He laid his hand on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God.”¹

Imagine he calls your name. Put your name in place of “woman”. Put your own wounds and brokenness in the place of her sickness. Stop. Read it again as His eyes are on you. Seeing you. Knowing you. His heart crying out with love for you. His compassion pouring out of a broken dam of raging passion for you. Drowning you. Healing you.

“I forgive you” He whispers. “Your heart is good.”

And there was Eric who for so many years was lost, wounded, and broken; and was bent double by the weight of it, and could not straighten up at all.

When Jesus saw him, He called him over and said to him, “Eric, my beloved, I set you free.” And He laid his hand on him; and immediately he was made erect again and began glorifying God.

The tears which pour from your brokenness are no longer tears of sorrow. These fresh tears are a salve for your soul, and flow faster as your heart breaks free and the healing begins.

You have searched and been found. You have believed and been healed.

Imagine.

When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.'”²

 

¹Luke 13:11-13

²Luke 7:13

 

Impossible Dreams

Darkness. I was lost. Somehow I was on this tiny, overgrown path and fear was snaking around my heart like choking vines. I wanted to get off and back onto a safer road. Now. “This is crazy!” I said to the dark. “What am I thinking?!!”

“My ways are not your ways.”, a Voice spoke quietly.

I became still. Listening intently in the dark.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts.” The Voice again.

My heart began to beat faster as Dark was interrupted by Light. I know that voice, and the Author of it both calms and disrupts me with his Presence.

I had become overwhelmed and nervous by the sketchy road down which my passions were leading me. The terrifying feeling of walking a tightrope without a net froze me in place, and I felt unable to move forward or back. The hopeful dream had become a fearful nightmare in my mind. How did it change? I couldn’t even remember when the change had taken place. Hearing that Voice now woke me as if from a deep sleep. I had taken my eyes off the Giver of Dreams looking instead into the doubtful eyes of myself and others as I made plans to turn onto a less-traveled path. My heart had begun to feel foolish and doubtful as I saw the path through their eyes, and faltered at the utter craziness of thinking it could work.

“Walking on water is nothing.”, He said, as I quickly reached for his hand. “It only requires one thing. Keeping your eyes on Mine.” I was immediately buoyed by his words, and the look of foolish love for me in his kind eyes. “Again, I say, walking on water is easy. Being made alive after being dead, is no problem. Making something from nothing, simple. Do you remember our many conversations and My promises to you?  Never forget where you have been and the deep depths from which I have drawn you up. Remember what I have done in your heart and what I have said I will do for you.”

I looked from Him back to the little used path, feeling my doubts and fear fade as a sense of childlike anticipation began to grow again inside my heart. “I am thinking too small and reaching too close!”, I thought. “What am I afraid of? It’s not as if I am alone, and when I do fall He lifts me up. He is always with me, and nothing is impossible with him.” The stormy waves of doubt were stilled in me and the feel of His hand in mine felt strong and sure. I looked into His face again and took a step, and then another, smiling with a rising confidence.

Does my reach exceed my grasp or am I only reaching for that which seems possible? Am I expecting God to do greater things than he has ever done or am I relying on my own competence to see me through? Am I keeping Him before my eyes or am I pushing forward on my own determination?


When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Matt 14: 26-31 NLT

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