Seeking Grief Relief . . .

A Stream of Consciousness Outpouring . . .

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Today, I have a heavy heart.
I have an aching heart.
I have a broken heart.

It is so heavy that it has sunk toward the bottom –

away from where it should be and down where it should never be.
Its usual buoyancy has succumbed to the weight of the world.

Another young friend has suddenly and unexpectedly gone to be with God.

On one hand, I realize that the passing of a believer,
no matter how young, should, in a sense, be cause for sweet rejoicing,
but, on the other hand, at this moment it only tastes of bitter loss.
My mind is grappling with my heart.
My heart and mind are at war with each other.
I realize that no-one is guaranteed even one more heartbeat,

but distress is becoming dismay,
off and on, I’ve shed tears all day.

Empathy can be a painful and sore.
Compassion for close ones hurts to the core.

First Rachel . . . and now James . . .

Another who was “bigger than life”,
who had a unique zest for life.
Who was well-loved, and who was full of love himself.

A close friend of my son,
He was only twenty one,

A large portion of our community is reeling.
I can’t help but think that this would be exponentially harder
If that were my own son . . .
The one thing that’s worse than being reminded of one’s own mortality
is being reminded of that of one’s children.

And now I’m conflicted.
My head rejoices for his soul, for him – he knew the Lord.
He is communing with Father God and Jesus,
but my heart grieves for all the reasons it does,
and all the reasons it should,
when a young adult has lost his chance to have a full life;
A life in the world, for that’s where I am!

I have to write these feelings out of me,
but I seem to be stuck.
Frustrated.
Annoyed.
Wounded.
Drifting.
How do I organize a piece such as this?
I don’t.
Won’t.
I refuse.
It has to be spontaneous.

A small part of me wants to rail at God,

but I have this thing called faith in Him.
It’s not His fault; He loves James.
I imagine James talking with Jesus at this moment.
I envision Father God taking a picture of Jesus sitting on His throne.
James is popping up behind Him and getting in the photo by surprise,
with his big smile,
with a wink,
and a “thumbs up”.
I believe that is called “photobombing”, or something like that.
Delightfully classic James . . .
I picture Father and Jesus getting a big, warm, hearty
laugh with James. I’m most certain they are very fond of him.

But here’s the thing:
I don’t understand.
(why do I always have to understand?)
Why does the Bible say we can pray and, essentially,
get the desires of our hearts?
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of prayers went up for James
when we heard that he had been severely injured in an auto accident.
Our request was for healing, restoration, and life,
none of which was granted. (as far as we know)
My head says he got his promised eternal life,
for James was a believer and follower of Christ from a young age.
Eternal life in Heaven is the ultimate answer to our prayers,
but we also prayed for the miracle of complete physical
restoration here on earth, and that did not happen.
“Your will be done”, we say.
So why bother to pray? (another rhetorical question)
Because He told us to!
Praying must have some affect that we don’t entirely understand –
something great for the prayed-for,
for God, or possibly Jesus, or for the pray-er.
I’m rambling, I know . . .

Jesus said we would be able to do what The Father
enabled Him to do, and even more, including healing, casting out demons,
and even restoring life,
but I don’t seem to be able to do those things

and I would like to know why. (Why do I always question?)
I think He wants me to ask questions, though, for that’s the way I learn.
I do want to learn all I can know about Him.
Moreover, I want to know Him.

I do want to know things;
things most likely beyond my understanding,
and which are perhaps none of my business,
but I pray to know anyway.

However, even in my grief over James, over his family’s heartache,
and over my son’s dismay at the loss of a great friend,
I remain steadfast in my faith.

I would like to know if you, dear reader, have ever felt these things.
If so, I’m comforted to know I’m not by myself in this.
I’m also comforted to know that, by reading this, perhaps
you don’t feel so alone yourself.

I refuse to let these frustrations, these questions, lead me away from
Love and into doubt – or worse even into apostasy.

It was uplifting that one of the Facebook quotes I had written about James
was used by the pastor in the service.
It is a joy that God uses me to help others.

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic, and even healing for me.
Writing is escape, refuge, and security.
Reading is no less.
If you have persevered and gotten this far, please pardon me, dear reader,
for using this forum for my own outpouring, my vent, my relief.

I must remember my “ministry of groaning” in a time like this.
The wordless groaning, (a sort of low, quiet wailing from my soul)
which comes out of the depths of my spirit and manifests itself
even through my voice. (if there is loud music in the background for cover,
the sound of it is all the louder)
When I have run out of tears and words to utter, it seems to help.
God actually put that principle into my spirit one day
when I was desperately praying for another grieving friend.
I told Him I had run out of tears and out of words to say.
“Groan for him, He said quite clearly.
This “gift” is so personal it is difficult to write about here . . .

Grief is spilling out of my heart, trying to drag the resident joy out with it,
but I must not let it succeed, Lord, don’t let it succeed,
for the joy of knowing You is my only salvation in times of crisis like these . . .

~  ~  ~

It has been two weeks, to the day, since I wrote the above.
In that time, I have written much, but not trusted myself to post.
I did not want my own self-centered disillusionment to
take away from the glory of my Lord.

Finally, two mornings ago, the long awaited,
long suppressed,
authentic,
spontaneous, groan came to me.
For myself,
and for others through me.
It can’t “work well” if it is forced.
It has to come with The Lord’s help,

and with His timing.
Without notice, it began in my toes ,
worked its way up through the marrow of my legs,
spread through my core, ever upward,
filling me,
and out through my throat,
expressing wordlessly the pent ache.
Sometimes the groan only comes forth from my heart.
This time, through my voice.
Crying to The Most High Lord more eloquently
than my words could have done.
Groaning for the bereaved family, for the city, for my son,
and for myself.
Sweet sympathy,
concentrated compassion,
the messy turmoil of groaning
bringing order at last.
At last.

All that is left is to somehow turn this piece so that it points
to the great glory of God.
To give God greater glory should always be my primary concern
when I write. His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

I think it is best, at this point, to use His own words instead of mine:

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

AMEN

 

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Testament – A Dangerous Gift of Risky Wisdom

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To all my friends, neighbors, and relatives:

This present, the precious fruit I hold out to you,
puts me at risk of being cast out, criticized, ostracized,
scoffed at, shunned, unfriended, thrown away, kicked out,
laughed at, and made fun of.
In some places, extending this to others
even brings hardship, torture, or death.
Nevertheless, I extend my gift of Good News to you,
though it may, through the enemy’s deceit,
look and sound to you like the opposite. 

My gift is honest, plainspoken, it’s candid and frank,
forthright and truthful, direct and unreserved, 
open and plain, and is completely sincere, out of my care,
compassion, concern, and love for you.

It is this:

If you are seeking to be “at one with the universe”,
you will never be that until you are “at one” with the creator of the universe.
(Yes, it was created, as were you; as was I.)

If you seek peace, seek freedom, and seek justice,
in their truest, purest forms,
you will never have those without knowing
the originator and provider of those things.

If you seek to be whole and complete, you will never truly be
until you know The Only One who was perfectly whole
and complete in Himself – Jesus – God With Us;
who sacrificed His all so that you could have all of the above
through Him and in Him alone.

And if you seek one person to love, and to love you in return, for all your life,
seek one who knows the creator of love – The One who loves you both
with eternal certainty. 

This is eternal wisdom, of which I once had none,
but of which He has given like He gives the gift of faith.
I am a firsthand witness. It happened to myself.
I have grasped only the corner of His robe.
I have but sipped from His living spring.
(to lend a particle of the poetic)
Only a corner and a small sip have already brought forth refreshing fruit
which I willingly pass out despite personal cost. Now.
For I may be out of time here.
One day, I will certainly be out of time, if you get my drift.  .  .

Once, I had none of those gifts,
Now, I’m getting.
Once, I couldn’t have,
Now, I can.
Once, I only was,
Now, I AM.

My Christ-following friends already know these truths,
as they know the Author of truth,
the Giver of the only gifts which have lasting value.
They already have, or are in the process of, accepting all the above desirable gifts.
The Good News is that there is much, much, more
to knowing Father God, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit!
Knowing them and making them Lord-Of-My-Life
is Everything.

Choose any of those friends, neighbors, or relatives to confide in

or ask questions of, if you want these things and much, much, more.
Any of them can tell you who to see, where to go, and what to do
to get the absolute most out of this current life and have it all extended everlastingly!

My heart is “on my sleeve”,
It’s plain for all to see,
Who do you want to be, or not to be?
This, sincerely, lovingly, from Me.

7-12-14  *From Estes Park*
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One Man’s Story Illustrating The Meaning Of Ressurection Sunday – Easter – “I Am Not My Own”

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It has been almost ten years since the guy in this story believed God for the first time.  Seven years after “his” rescue, “he” was commissioned to write about that very personal Life-event. This is the first story that the Holy Spirit of Jesus poured into “him” and then helped that hatching writer set into words. Although it is full of metaphor and illustration, which some might find challenging, even troubling, it is based upon, and inspired by “his” own personal rebirth, transformation, and resulting personal relationship with “his” Savior:

I Am Not My Own

 

“Waiting to die” pretty much summed it up. Nothing before me. I was lost without a compass or map. No sun to show direction. Just utterly lost. No purpose. No meaning. I must have taken a wrong turn sometime, somewhere in the past, somewhere back on the journey up this metaphoric trail called “life”. I had relied completely upon myself, needing no-one else. I knew something had been missing, but I had ignored that thought. Looking after my own wants and desires, I took little accounting of others’ well-being. I admit life had been mostly about me, yet there was an emptiness, and that I had ignored as well. But surely it isn’t my fault that I found myself in a bad place! Where was the love? Where was this God my mother and grandfather talked about? I had shaken my fist at the sky in anger.
“You don’t exist and I hate you.”
I had always been right. I just didn’t make mistakes. Yet there must be something more. No, that’s silly, this is all there is! Me, Myself and I. Live for today, for you only get one chance at life. “I am my own man. I‘ll do it my way!” I shouted my arrogant mantra. “Take pleasure while you can before it’s too late.”

Darker and colder. Hope is fading…….  Wait. The “trail” splits up ahead.  I have a choice of directions in which to take my life, but I can’t tell which way would be best.  For the first time, I can’t tell which way to go.  My superior intellect should be able to divine the right way. Intuition. Deduction. Maybe I can get back in the game. Yes, the Universe will tell me the way. I’ll meditate. “Ohhhmmmm.” I’ll close my eyes. Breathe deep – let it out. “Ohhhmmmmm.”  “Find the right  way, before it’s too late…….. too late………………. too late…………………………..”

Suddenly I find myself on a real trail;  a rocky, dusty, steep, very real mountain trail.

The sky is dreary and the air is heavy with the feeling of an impending storm. I’m not alone on my ascent up the mountain. There is a man struggling to carry or drag something on the trail above me. As I draw closer to him I notice that he is struggling with a heavy wooden cross. His robe is soiled and dusty, and heavily bloodstained. His straining face is shining with sweat and his features are wracked with excruciating pain. In surprise turning to shock, I notice that a wreath of long, cruelly sharp thorns has been pressed into the skin of his scalp and forehead. Rivulets of blood are slowly trickling into his eyes and down his bruised, battered cheeks. One eye is nearly swollen shut. He doesn’t seem to know I’m here.

I stop as he loses his footing and falls to one knee in the rocks. Breathing hard – nearly panting, he manages to rise and lift the cross to his shoulder but it is apparent that his strength is failing. It seems urgent that he reach the summit with that cross. In an unusual moment of pity, I wonder if there is anything I can do to help him. I’m not without compassion, am I? But no, he is probably some sort of criminal who doesn’t deserve my help and, anyway, I wouldn’t want to get into trouble. The same men who have hurt him could very well do the same to me. Yet torture of this kind is sort of disturbing no matter who he is or what he has done.

He is nearing the top of the dry, barren mountain. I follow him at a safe distance, with a sort of morbid curiosity, and watch as he shuffles painfully across a flat area until he stops, pauses, then half shrugs and half throws the cross off his shoulder onto the hard ground. He drops with painful exhaustion onto his hands and knees over the heavy wooden cross. His fingers come away covered with his lifeblood when he touches his punctured forehead.  He places his shaking hand upon the crossbar and turns his face toward me, then he stares right into my eyes and one corner of his mouth lifts in just a hint of a smile. Blood is dripping from his wounded head onto the cross. I am so startled that I look away in confusion and embarrassment. I do not know him, yet this pitiful man acts like he knows me. Frightened, and not knowing why, I turn away and quickly walk down and around a small hill until I find a cave-like formation in the rocks where I can be out of the blast of the wind and hopefully sheltered from the gathering storm.

I sit with my knees bent and my arms around them. Thinking. Wondering. Who was that man?  What happened to him? What is he doing? Why?  The wind, which had been raging, suddenly becomes completely still. The light begins to fade. In a short time it is completely dark and I am desperately afraid, for I know it is only midday. If I should move, I risk falling into a hole or off a cliff.

“Helllp! Someone, please help me!”  Silence…..      Impatient, I take a few tentative steps, carefully feeling for safe places to put my feet. I take a few more steps but a ledge of rock shifts under me and I find that I’m sliding down a slope. I manage to grasp the edge of a large, flat rock as I slide past it. The edges of the rock are sharp, cutting my palms as I try to hang on. Now I am hanging in the air by the tips of my fingers.
“Hellllllp!” I cried again. “For the love of god, someone, anyone. I’m falling. Save me. Oh my god, save me.”
A small light appears below my feet. A glow like a small candle. Greenish yellow. I look down and see that my feet are just above a solid, flat rock so I drop onto it. Now what?
“You’re welcome” someone says. “Now come, there is something you should see. Just be quiet and follow me.”
“Who’s there?  Who are you?” No reply. The tiny light moves across the rock such that it lights a path for my footsteps. I can tell that we are circling upward and to the right. “Thanks for the help. I thought I would die!”
“Yes, you would have. Shhhhh”
I follow and reach a flat place. The light moves away from the ground and stops near a pair of feet. The feet are nailed to a post with a huge iron spike! Oh, my lord, I need to get away from here! The light winks out. But, I can’t get away if I can’t see. Maybe I’m hallucinating. Let me awaken from this nightmare! The light appears higher up. I see a hand nailed to a crossbeam. I can’t look. Someone has nailed this guy to the cross he was carrying!
I’m horrified. This is too much. “Let me go! Get me out of here!”
“Wait”
Now the glow moves across the beam until it reaches a vertical post and I see a sign with words written on it in a foreign language. Beneath the sign I see a wreath made of thorns upon a head which is hanging down. Then I’m shown the man’s other hand – also pierced with a nail. So much blood. I feel ill and kneel on the cold stone. Obviously it is the same man I followed up the path.
“Who is this poor man?”
“Soon you will know,” the voice said softly.
“What has he done to deserve this?” I whispered.
“Nothing. He has done only good. What you see is innocent blood. Now we must move away so that he can finish what he came to do – what has to be done that only he can do.” I follow the light behind a large boulder then stand and wait.
The light is gone again. It is still dark as midnight. No stars or moon or sun.
“ Don’t leave me. You still there? ”
“ I Am.”
“What is that stench?”
“ Be still, it’s coming. They are all coming.”
The smell of dead things hits me. Sulfur. Every foul smell I have ever smelled hits me. I see something coming from beyond where the crucified man is. It is black. More black than the dark. So black that it stands out against the darkness. It is floating like a hairy, spiny blanket and reminds me of a sting ray the way it moves through the air. Terrifying sounds begin to blare from the thing. A cacophony of screams, wails, and growls. The sounds of terror and of war and of hate. It opens its yawning maw revealing row upon row of sharp yellow teeth. Anything that got near that vicious mouth would be snatched in and cut to bits.
“What in the world is that?” I asked, terrified. Whatever it is, I think it sees me. It is between me and the cross and it is looking to devour me like prey. I am paralyzed with fear. Then the man on the cross intervenes. He says something I can’t understand as though speaking directly to the predator. I hold my breath. It turns toward him. What a relief!
“ It is something you have never understood. Close your eyes so that I can make you see a little better.” With that the light appears like a small oil lamp, touches me on the forehead and then over my heart, and disappears. Something inside me says “That is the first sin.” Now the hideous thing is settling onto the cross for I can see its outline wrapping around the outline of the cross and the figure of the man. I hear the sounds of a violent, gasping struggle. Sin seems to be trying to suffocate him and crush him with its considerable weight. It seems to burn him like strong acid, yet he appears to be neutralizing and absorbing it.
I breathe a sigh of relief until I see more sins coming from all directions, heading straight for him like wasps with stingers bared. They attack him like the first, only by the hundreds, then millions, then billions. The expanse of the dark sky is filled with them. Piling onto him. The man is in agony beyond my understanding. This is no ordinary man.
“How can he endure this nightmare? Isn’t it enough that he has been tortured, and hangs there bleeding to death? Now he has to be attacked by these monstrosities?” As if in reply all I can hear is the muffled sound of weeping. I can’t help but weep myself and sink to my knees under the constant streams of unspeakable things passing overhead. I curl up and cover my ears. All the while the inner voice is comforting me. Giving me small insights. Keeping me from going crazy with terror. “How long have I been here?”
“Nearly three hours.”
“This is horrible, why do I have to watch this? Worse yet, why is it happening to this nice man if, as you say, he is innocent? What in god’s name is going on?”

“This mysterious, wondrous man is receiving all the blasphemy, all the malicious thoughts and deeds, all the selfish ideas and cruel acts that ever happened and that will ever happen. He is absorbing them somehow. To His very marrow. I am not even certain exactly how He is doing it. It is supernatural, for He is beyond nature now. I can feel how He recognizes each individual sin-beast and recalls the depth of His own love for the bearer of each monster. And there’s even more to it than that. He is becoming sin, transforming into it because of its viciously contaminating nature. And yes, you spoke well, He is doing it all in God’s name. I know that a multitude of angels could be called to save Him, but He knows He must do this and do it alone – completely and terribly alone. This is the only way – to trade places with you – to endure what you could never endure. He who has been perfect is ready to give up everything He holds very dear – even His relationship with His Father and His eternal life in Heaven and He is doing it all for you. He is becoming what he despises most to save you. You did ask to be saved, remember? This poor guy, as you call Him, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! No one can come to the Father except through Him because of what He is doing right now! You are seeing Lord Jesus, the one and only Son of God, in His finest hour. Giving His utmost. Giving His all for His brothers and sisters. He is working toward His own destruction. Yes, you are right. It is almost too much for even me to bear.”
I still had my doubts.
“ Are you telling me that this Jesus, God, Heaven stuff is real?”
“ What do you hear inside?”
I sat in stunned silence and listened…. In a very small voice I heard myself say “Yes, I’ve been so wrong……..”

“Stand up, you should see this”
I stood. The last of the black abominations was being taken in. Save one. It was massive. Uglier and nastier, more foul-smelling and noisier than any of the others. I shuddered. “What in the world is that?” There was a long pause……..

“Don’t you know?……………. That one is yours.”
Hanging my head and through my sobs I confessed. “Yes, it is so full of unforgiveness, and selfishness, and every other bad thing. Yes mine is the worst. I‘m so sorry.” Just the weight of my terrible sin alone should have crushed Him, yet He bore them all. I don’t understand.”
“He accepted your punishment. Now you are almost free. Your ‘lifesaving’ is a gift from Us, but there is just one more thing you must do. I’ll see you soon, there’s something I must do too.  Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.”
“Us?  Who?…. Wait !…. What do I do now?!!
“You have been chosen, but He doesn’t ever force.  You can accept His choosing or reject it.  So choose.  Choose wisely, for as you have seen, Life and death have been laid before you. Of course Life is preferred.  Who, or what, will be your Lord?  We have great hopes for you, but the choice is yours and there can be no compromise. Choose.”  Then the Light-Being was gone.

I stand here in shock as the sky’s light begins to return. Am I witnessing my first dawn? I turn toward Jesus. The cross seems worn and bent. He seems almost……..

But even now He is dying, and with His last breath I hear Him declare loudly, not in defeat, but in triumph:

“IT IS FINISHED!”

All creation seems to be groaning and weeping. Nooooooo! How can this be! I can’t lose Him now! All Heaven and Earth is wailing in protest, the thunder is deafening and an earthquake is throwing me into the air. My landing is sure to hurt, but I’m not afraid, for suddenly belief overtakes me.  My fear is gone.  I believe that I will be delivered to safety and the name of my Savior is Jesus Christ, Messiah, Son of God. Immanuel. God With Me. I believe, and everything has changed! But, oh, how I wish He weren’t gone. I so would have liked to talk with Him…… Noooooooooooooo!!!

I can’t watch as they take His body away. I simply stay in a fetal position behind my boulder and wonder in awe – and in deep sadness. For another day, maybe two, I just wait and think.  I think of how stupid I was to set myself up as my own god, as judge of who I thought should be forgiven or not forgiven; who should be condemned or glorified.

Why do I feel light and new?  I don’t deserve to.  My burden is gone but so is He. I should be sad and I am, but somehow this air is clean and fresh. Are those birds that I hear? Why do I hear someone singing?

Toward dusk, I stand and walk to the cross. The cuts on my palms are open and bleeding again and they hurt. Standing at the foot of this horrible post, I feel small. I can hardly bear to look at it, yet something catches my eye. There is something written there behind where His wonderful, pure heart once beat. He must have done it when He collapsed atop the cross and smiled at me. There are words in a foreign language with my name under them. Another is there beside mine. I see crimson hand prints on both sides of the cross where his hands gripped it. I don’t know how it could be that the blood is still fresh, but it is. Impulsively I stand on my tiptoes, stretch, reach upward and place my hands over his hand prints. Mercy, Lord!  Instantly a circuit is completed! My hands are held firm! His blood enters my cuts and there is no more pain. Not in my hands nor my heart. Connected by blood, I feel His presence! He is my Savior. My Lord Jesus! I am His and He is mine! A bright, white light wraps itself around my feet and travels up my legs. Engulfing. Permeating. It reaches my chest, then the top of my head. I feel clean and new and whole. The feeling of a warm blanket descends upon my head and, as it slowly falls, wraps me in comfort from head to toes. My whole body – my whole being – tingles with joy as though sparkling light is becoming a sensation inside me. I lift my palms from the cross and, like a child, raise them to the sky. I have chosen Life. He is alive in me and I live in Him.  At last I know who and whose I am, and why. “Thank you Father, Thank You, Thank You; Thank You, Jesus!” I just sit at the foot of the cross and weep out joy for a long time…………..

I awake at dawn smiling , whispers of sunshine warming my face. I’ve slept soundly all night and remember dreaming that I enjoyed a banquet in a palace full of beautiful people. After an amazing meal, there was a party. Everyone there smiled at me. All through the night we had such fun singing and dancing……

Whispers.  Laughter.  Exuberance!  My eyes opening.  The little Light-Being was back, bouncing all over the ground and over me. Excitedly it announced, “Joyous News!  Happy, Happy Morning!  He is alive, indeed it is true! The stone was not as heavy as it looked, nor the tomb secure from Light in its darkness! He awoke and walked alive from His grave!  Death is undone! His work is indeed finished today! All that He gave up has been restored to Him.  Everything!  Even now He walks among His people. He even knows of your choice!  He wants to talk with you! Come quickly!”
I was already running down the trail as all my inner-being proclaimed, “‘My Savior Lives!’  Wait, who are you?  Slow down!”
And in the distance ahead, behind me, and in my inner, renewed soul, I heard, “I AM the Wind at your back!”

It seems a season later.  A day perhaps? I am a different person now – a new person with a new heart. It’s simple, yet hard to explain. My fears and doubts are gone. Selfishness is replaced by love. I know meaning, yes, and purpose. And there is this joy – this amazing joy! I look at my cupped hands. They are completely healed, and in them the little bubble of Light wiggles and pulsates. I ask it, “I wonder what those words meant. The ones on the cross, in the blood that doesn’t ever seem to dry. What would He write to me in His own blood?”

“Don’t you know? Can’t you guess? My child , it’s in Aramaic. He is saying

“I LOVE YOU”

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Oh my dear Lord! Now my Father and Creator and I can talk and have fellowship. He tells me I will always be His and that He will always be mine! He said I could keep the little Light-Being which led me to Him and which helped me to see, even when times were darkest.  In fact it has expanded to fill my inner- man, and resides in me today, and to this day, He and my Lord Jesus still love to show me my page in His Book of Life.
It says: “(Len, grandson of David) — Acquired, and adopted, December 2, 2004 AD at 9:33 am central time. On that day, Father and I danced and sang with him, and all Heaven and the angels rejoiced until half-past eternity!”
(He has a great sense of humor!)

Acquired! Wow!

And that’s how I learned that I am not my own, but that I was acquired – purchased by His blood and paid for by Him dying in my place and carrying my sin away! Acquired and purchased not as a mere possession, but redeemed and adopted as a treasured son, brother, and heir.

Not my own! Entirely His!

Oh, and about that name that I saw beside mine on the cross, written in His blood. My dear friend, haven’t you guessed?  Do you not know?

It is yours!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Copyright © 11-22-2010  by Len, Gloryteller.  All rights reserved.

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I Present “Spring”

~  ~  ~
^ ^ ^ ^ ^
* * * * * * *

What can I say about Spring
that you don’t already know?
It’s about the joy of new life.
New life from old life.
New life out of death.
New life is alive with the bloom of everlasting life.
Exultant!
Joyous!
Achingly beautiful!

Vivaldi knew music, and he knew Spring in a unique, special way.
He composed the following music about Spring:
To my mind, it is exultant, joyous, and achingly beautiful
just as are the colorful flowers, butterflies, birds, and bees herein.
New life from old life.
New life out of death.
It’s another way to tell of God’s glory, another facet of proclaiming His brilliance!
Dear reader, I present you with colorful new life,
I present you with Vivaldi’s “Spring”.

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Thank you Simon S. Alba for posting this video.

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A Re-run To Fill The Seeming Void – – – HIS PRAYER EXPANDED

~  ~  ~

I’ve not been forthcoming with new material, but I’ve been writing right along.
While I finish that work, here’s a re-run to mark time.
I assure you that new material is forthcoming,
assuming that I’m still working here in the physical “plain”
(or plane, if you’re literal and a discerning speller, that was an ordinary pun, haha)


^  ^  ^

My Father

Oh, my Father-God and my Lord, Who walks the vast halls of Heaven,
where You live, and breathe, and reign sovereign
over everything finite and eternal.
From where You speak.
From where You write Your Word.
From where You see all, know all, and do all.
From where You give Your unfathomable grace,
your mercy, and forgiveness.
From where You open Your hands and pour out goodness,
and from where You sent Your Love Incarnate, Immanuel.

Your name is Holy.
Let me kneel humbly, respectfully,
in reverence to Your glorious name.

May Your kingdom, Your realm, be established,
may Your kingship be proclaimed,
may everything You desire to happen
be done here on Earth, just as it is in Heaven.

I ask that You continue to provide all I need
in the form of wholesome food and water to nourish my body,
as well as Your Living Bread, and Your Living Water,
and understanding of Your Word, with personal revelation,
to nourish my soul.

I ask that You help me remember how You paid my debts
on the horrible cross of torture.
How You took my sin upon Yourself, Jesus.
How You gave Yourself in propitiating atonement, and in conciliation,
and appeasement, for my trespasses against You, Father-God.
Help me Lord to continue to learn to forgive others their debts against me,
their trespasses, wrongs, crimes, and sins against me,
just as You have so mercifully and graciously forgiven mine through Christ.

I ask You, Lord, to lead me away from the temptations of this world.
Help me keep your Word, Your principles, in obedience.
Lead me through the minefields, the snares, and the pitfalls,
for they are many, and my enemy shows me only the bait,
but hides the trap well.
Protect and deliver me from that devil, from that evil one, in Jesus name!

And finally, Almighty Father, I want to proclaim Your Kingdom.
It is the Kingdom of kingdoms, and You are the King of kings!

I proclaim that Your power is absolute.
It is the power that created Beautiful Creation in its entire completeness.
It is the power to create human beings in Your image;
human minds, souls, and hearts.
It is the awe-inspiring, miraculous power to change those hearts,
and save those souls.

And, I proclaim Your Glory, Lord.
How can I explain Your Glory?
It is too beautiful, too splendidly colorful, too exquisitely bright!
How can I illuminate it?
It blinds my eyes, baffles my mind, closes my mouth.
It is love unleashed, fervent, and intense.
It is Your inexplicable mercy, and grace, and kindness, and generosity.
It is as inexplicable as You, my God.
You’re glorious in Your Glory.
You ARE the Most High Lord,
Holiness Itself,
Ancient of Days,
The Great I AM.

Yes, Yours is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory,
for all time, and through unfathomable eternity.
You are my ABBA, my Heavenly Father-God
to Whom I pray this prayer, as You have instructed.
I ask these things and proclaim these things
in the love of Jesus’ most holy name.
Amen, and Amen.


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Of A Lifetime – This One Great Gift


♥  
♥  

I close my eyes to write in my head
and I see you.

God-made.
God-formed.
God-raised.
God-borne.

God-loved,
God-sent,

Then given.
Presented to me;

God-given.

To have and to hold
in all the ways of having and holding.
To love and be loved
in all the ways of loving and being.
To share the hard stuff – relational stuff –
like patience and kindness,
endurance and longsuffering,
the Battle of Human Failings,
the monotonous work of the ordinary,
the grinding load of day-to-day servitude,
joy and heartbreak,
often mere survival,
yet ordained to survive
because there is only one He gives.
He allows no other while life endures.
And He never leaves nor forsakes,
but comforts and soothes.
Freely gives His grace.
His companionship.
His forgiveness and mercy.
His unconditional blessing.
For us, together.

Yes, I close my eyes to write in my head,
and I see you.
I see the Love that was,
that is,
and that is to come,
and I know that I’m greatly blessed.

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Oh Stay This Beastly Wind

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oh Lord, stay these ghastly-vicious winds
which run raging from the frozen North in fierce packs,
surrounding my home,
clawing at my door,
pushing on my window glass,
prying in to drain my blood of warmth;
whose wraith-like howls
seethe and scream though
our already storm-torn trees;
whose teeth snap and bite at my face’s flesh,
and threaten to rend my very soul
if I but crack open my door.
Drive away the marauding horde,
Oh Lord, send them fleeing with a mighty shout,
away from my habitation and back to their own.
Or whisper them calm like You did before.
Amen

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Remember, Trust, and Fear Not

* * *
^                ^

I’m like Israel.
I’m always in some stage of forgetting.
Forgetting what God has done for me.
Always in some season of fluctuating lack, or abundance, of trust.
Lacking trust in Him.
Always wandering back and forth in the space between complete remembrance
and idolatry.
Between desperate, abiding trust,
and going aside to find my own way.
Gaining freedom.
Careless with freedom.
Freedom tipping dangerously
back and forth at the edge of destruction.
And so it is with my country.

It is said that great civilizations can’t be destroyed from without,
but easily from within.
I try to fight The Worm inside;
the one who hides its presence.
Insidious.
Parasitic.
Spanning the length of my inner workings.
Feeding, wiggling, waiting.
Trying to poison me gradually,
without my noticing.
But I notice.
I know it’s there
trying to kill the very one who feeds it.
And I try to poison it back.
In anger.
In revenge.
I take poisons to kill it,
or, at least, to drive it out.
But it won’t go,
And that’s killing me . . .

Alas! I have forgotten, once more,
that I can’t, and never could, by myself.
That there is The Saving Promise,
and The Trust in its Maker
that I let fade to my own harm.
I’ve only to remember that He has defeated that Worm.
Has His foot on its neck.
It knows it’s finished, yet
it writhes and thrashes,
and spews its poison,
Attempting to inflict yet one more wound inside.
But it is harmless as long as I remember to trust Him;
to keep Him precisely between myself and that monster.
Remember and trust.
Oh, Israel!
I can’t, even for one moment, forget,
Nor let trust fail.
Nor neglect thanking Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do.
To keep me safe.
And to keep me free.

~So it is with me.~
~And so it is with my country.~

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Previews, Glimpses, Sips, And Samples

~ ~ ~

^^^^^

At a food show, the chef fed us morsels from each course of his famous ten course gourmet dining experience.

The wine steward poured us sample sips of his oldest vintage.
But the actual meals and drinks were beyond our means,
Our ability to fully appreciate,
Beyond our wherewithal…

We were left with our dreams and ‘air-filled’ beans,
Not that beans aren’t good, mind you…

At the homemade ice cream store, the clerk gave us delicious samples of exotic frozen wonders, but there were too many and we had to decide upon one or two…

We watched the trailer – actually a teaser – of the new blockbuster movie.  We could have watched it right then, but it was a month from release in theaters…

We looked at paint swatches, but they were too small to get the full visual picture of how the whole room would look with those colors…

We saw photographs of architectures and landscape designs for our new home, but each was more beautiful than the last and we couldn’t wrap our head around them, couldn’t decide…

We saw photographs of paintings, which, of course, couldn’t do justice to the real works of art…

We heard samples of music which we knew were not a fair representation of the complete recorded songs, which, themselves, failed to convey the complete experience of watching and hearing the artists play and sing the music before us “live”…

Perfume samples faded too soon…

The smell of lilacs.
We just want them to keep blooming all year
So that we can have the real thing
And not just a pleasant memory…

We saw the digital computerized results of the collisions of subatomic particles moving at nearly the speed of  light.  The pictures are digital because the particles are traveling so fast, their trails are very short, and their “lives” are less than flashes.  The researchers are reasonably certain that they have found the elusive Higgs Boson — the “God particle” — that confers mass upon all matter.  Those particles border upon the unreal in our local timespace, but their effects and their existence is, in a sense, eternal…

So it is to live here in the world of the created universe.
We see but a glimpse of the immense and the miniscule.
Of the quick and even the slow.
Of the true hues and created colors.
But we’re glad to have eyes.

We hear but a whisper of the eternal symphony.
But we’re glad to have ears.

We get only a momentary, fleeting taste of a magnificent feast.
But we’re glad to have the sense of taste.

We are thankful to have senses, but
We’re left with a longing for more,
No, not just more, but a longing for The Real Thing.
The big, full, complete, Real Thing.
All of it!

The thing is:  that God gives us the capacity to experience Him through His created works surrounding us here in our temporary home, the incompletely restored universe.  We have sensory organs, limited as they are, and we have minds which seek to understand, all the while knowing that the completed “big picture” will not be ours.  The complete fullness of God’s Mind, His Power, Majesty, and Glory is beyond our ability to experience.  Not here, not now, not yet.

What is it like to chase an electron?

What is it like to see all the countless wavelengths and hear all the countless frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum?

What is it like to hear the choir of all the stars in all the galaxies singing at once to the Risen Creator-King while all the angels’ voices soar in counterpoint?

What is it like to taste a ten-million-course banquet assembled by a host of angel chefs while the Persons of the Trinity dine at the table with us?

What is it like to see Your face,
Oh, Lord?

We likely will not know these things while alive on this world, but we have faith that we will know when we all hear the worldwide trumpet note that accompanies His returning shout as He comes at last to finish the redemption of all creation and all His people.

Until then, we are blessed, privileged, and gifted
With all of His
Sips,
Hints,
Nudges,
Samples,
Glimpses,
Whispers,
Previews,
Foretastes.

~ ~ ~
^^^^^

Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me.  1 Corinthians 13:12 

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

But as it is written in the Scriptures, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him and wait for Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 
[ There are things God hath prepared for those that love him, and wait for him, which sense cannot discover, no teaching can convey to our ears, nor can it yet enter our hearts. We must take them as they stand in the Scriptures, as God hath been pleased to reveal them to us. –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary]

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I Shared My Everything

^~^

^~ ~ ~^

With you

Not only some cash

Not only some time

Not  only my past

Nor pain

Not only my failure and success

My love

True, and again, yes

But most of all I shared my faith

Spurned or embraced

That is all I have that really matters

Even Faith-So-Small

My everything and All-In-All

My joys and my sorrows

To make a difference

THE Difference in hope for your tomorrows

A deposit with endless interest

Awaits you there

When and where

And if you will accept the prayer

Of faith

Of everything with you I gladly share.

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Your Daughter, My Mother

A slightly melancholy look at a child’s love.
A celebration for, and of, his mother.
A prayer for one whose presence was irreplaceable.
A prayer for one whose absence is always felt.
Love You, Mom.
Me


Your Daughter, My Mother

Dear Heavenly “Grand”-Father,

Many years ago; more than twenty-two,
You made Mom a place to live
When she went away
To live with You.
Would You go there today,
Right up to her house,
And give her, for me,
A nice new dress,
A flowery skirt,
A pretty blouse?
Would You give her
Nice-looking sandals,
Or some beautiful shoes?

Oh, Grandpa, today I’m getting the blues….

You chose her to bear me,
I was blessed from the start.
Please tell her I miss her.
We are too far apart.
Would You put a sparkling
Crown on her head?
Or just hold her hand?
Would You give her, today,
A big Daddy-hug?
The warmest kind as only You can?
And tell her that her prayers for me
Were answered by You,
And are being still,
To this very day.
Tell her I’m finally free.
I’m on Your Son’s path,
I’m following Your Way.
Maybe not all that she hoped
And she prayed, not  just yet,
But much closer, Grand-Daddy,
Much closer this day….

Today, she just seems
Much too far away….

All the time and the distance,
That pries us apart.
‘Spite life’s trials and resistance,
She’s still in my heart.
So thank her for me.
‘Cause it’s heavy to bear,
That it’s Mothers Day here and she’s way up there.
But tell her I will soon see her, perhaps!
Until then, maybe give her a dance.
Will you give her a flower?
Lord, give her a laugh.
Tell her I can hardly wait.
I’ll see her at the garden gate –
The one on the west,
When I finally come.

Meantime, Grandpa God, please give her my best.
Your best too, ’cause we love her,
‘Cause You hear all my prayers,
‘Cause You know who they’re from,
And just because she’s Your daughter,
And because she’s my mom!


 

Metaphor Mountain

 

I “love” mountains, and I “love” The Mountains.

(I’m using quotation marks because I’m trying to teach myself to use the words “love” and “hate” appropriately, that is to save them for situations in which their true meaning applies)

What I really mean to say is that I like mountains intensely.  In my book, one can only love living entities that one can have some sort of relationship with, like God (especially Him), a person, or perhaps a pet.  Of course the words love and hate can be used metaphorically and that’s the way they are most often used.  You hear it umpteen-zillion times a day. (Wink) I, myself, hate that.  Oops, I dislike that.  It is so common we don’t even notice the frequency of “I love it when”…., or, “I hate it when”. It’s annoying when I hear “I just love your hair, and that purse, I just love that, that’s to die for!”. We all do it, but how did we get so far from the true usage?   Love God with everything you’ve got.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s a tall enough order for the word “love”. Hate the sin, love the sinner! Another mighty tall order, yet, in those two sentences are found the true meaning and usefulness of the words love and hate.

I’ve gotten slightly off the trail. Let’s get back on it: If there were inanimate objects I could love, however, they would be “the mountains”.  I have had, and am having, some wonderful real and metaphorical relationships with them, a few notable individual mountains in particular. If I had a “bucket list”, being in the mountains would be on it right after being with my people.

Mountains have real and metaphoric value in my life because they emphasize several opposing concepts:

Ascending and descending.
Higher and lower.
Danger and safety.
Climbing and falling.
Struggle and peace.
Beauty and desolation.
Heaven and Earth.
Spirit and flesh.
Good and evil.
And the awareness of the proximity of
life and death.

I could expand this list almost endlessly, but you get the point.

Recently, the subject of death has been on my mind. My post, https://gloryteller.com/2013/03/25/one-last-mountain/,  uses ascending a mountain as a metaphor for death.  Perhaps it will become more than a metaphor.  Perhaps I will “meet Death” on the slopes of a real mountain. Most likely it will be a metaphoric mountain that will claim my bodily life.

When I was transformed into a believer, my many and various fears were either taken away completely or were significantly diminished. My almost obsessive fear of death was one that was removed. All that is left is the natural, instinctive, compulsion to preserve my bodily life. Death, to me, is the necessary step I must take to reach Paradise, Heaven, and eternal life in the presence of my Lord and my Heavenly Father. Yet, it dawned on me that perhaps I’m taking death too lightly. Is it really a natural part of life? Is there nothing that can be done about it? If it is normal and natural, should anything be “done” about it?

I subscribe to the school of thought that death is a corruption thrust into a creation that was perfect before selfishness turned into sinfulness and spoiled the whole plan. I also believe that there is something that should be, and can be, done about death, and that is to believe, and believe in the Savior, who was sent to vanquish it. Death is the consequence of our sinful nature, but He accepted true death in our places, so that we would not have to face the permanent consequences of our selfishness. Jesus defeated selfishness with selflessness! Everything that should and could be done about the problem of death has already been done! Problem solved! Done! Over! Finished! But only for believers in the One who did it perfectly and died for it perfectly! (I’ll leave it to you to discern and comprehend the larger, more complex, concept of death beyond the relatively simple death of a body.)

So, that being said, perhaps I still don’t really know enough about death, nor the process through which it will take me. Perhaps when the moment comes, I’ll be unprepared and I might succumb to fear, or find out that everything I thought I knew was wrong. It only happens once, and, although there are those who claim to have returned to their bodies, or returned from Heaven or Hell after they died, I suspect that death is an individually unique occurrence to which the testimonies of others have little value. There is only one person I personally know who has returned from death – my Lord and Savior, Jesus. I only trust what He said about it. That is recorded in the New Testament.

To climb a mountain, it is vital to be prepared. It’s interesting that the word “vital” comes from Latin roots meaning “relating to life, or the quality of being alive”. In my case, it means being able to preserve my life and my ability to stay alive throughout the whole journey; until the adventure is completed. I must pack the essential food, water clothing, and first aid supplies. I must have a map of the area and the route to the top either in my “head” or in my pack. I must be in good physical condition. I must have a positive mental attitude. I must have skills and knowledge, and be able to use them wisely. I must read extensively about the subject. I also must know how to pray and talk to the only One who will be my companion all the way. There will be only one chance to “get it right”.

Preparing to summit a mountain is like anticipating both bodily and metaphysical death – knowledge about what will kill you, makes you stronger. The stronger you are, the more likely a good outcome. The Bible says every person will die, then live again in an eternal body. The only question is “ which of two eternal ‘places’ will a person exist in after that”. I choose life – abundant life – with God.

Yes, that metaphoric mountain rises before me, and yes, evil will stalk me all the way up, but, before me, Jesus walked, and fell, and died, and lived again on that final mountain so that I would need to fear no evil; so that I would not have to fall, and break, and die before reaching the summit. His Spirit will accompany me and I will rely on His strength as I get weaker on my journey to the top, where He, Himself, awaits my arrival. From this land’s end until The Endless Land, I will trust God and believe in The Son of Man, and that not a moment too soon, for now, day breaks the gloom of night, and I can begin to see my humbling,        huge,        sobering,         mysterious,       towering,        massif on the horizon.

^^^

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Rejoice! Rejoice! With All Your Might, Rejoice!

Rejoice! Rejoice! With All Your Might, Rejoice!

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think, in some way, about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
Today is no different.
But wait, it is different, for today is the church’s official celebration of that creation-changing, world-changing, life-changing Day.
Today, let there be loud singing and joyous dancing.
Let there be massive celebration over all the Earth,  for our Jesus is alive!
Let there be all of that but, most importantly,
let Him be the Lord of your life.

Rejoice, My Soul – All People, Rejoice!

I celebrate this holiest
Of all the days of holiness,
For as the sun appears to rise in the East,
The Son of God did arise
On Easter – Resurrection Day,
The greatest Day the Lord Has Made.
I rejoice and I am exceedingly glad in it,
For my Savior lives!
Oh, Lord, He lives!
Now and forever, He lives!
And because He lives,
So can I!
For my heart, too, was sealed
With hardened stone,
And in that darkened tomb
Dwelt death.
With tender touch He moved
The hardened part away
To let in light and life
So death was put to death.
The Holy Spirit Jesus sent
Was sent to live in me.
As Christ began to breathe again
I felt my spirit leap.
It leapeth still in Heaven’s realm,
So graciously removed from hell
That I can only raise my hands and say,
“Rejoice, all people, rejoice!
Hallelujah, praise God, rejoice!”
For our Savior lives and breathes in us!
He arose!
He conquered bitter death and saved!
He does that still, today!

With love,
Your Gloryteller

 Resurrection Sunday,  3-31-2013

 

Breath Of Heaven – Mary’s Song

 

Not even one of us can fully understand nor appreciate Mary’s plight…….

Rest in Peace, Donna Summer.  We still have your amazing voice.

These are video clips from The Nativity Story,  upload thanks to Peperamico.


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Now I Lay Me Down – For Davey Christopher

Now I Lay Me Down
A Bedtime Poem and Prayer

This is the bedtime prayer that my mom taught me. I was told to say it every night without fail:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

The dying part scared me.  The implication of the possibility that I might die if I went to sleep was too much for my young mind to grasp, so I rushed through it which took the whole meaning, purpose, and heart out of praying it.
Recently, when I researched the history of this classic children’s prayer, I found that the earliest version of that prayer was perhaps written in 1711 by Joseph Addison in an essay appearing in The Spectator.  Mom’s version came later from The New England Primer.  Several different versions exist, some including child-watching angels.

I decided that Davey Christopher (and I, as well) needed a better bedtime prayer.   Davey’s prayer is a new version of the classic:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Stay with me, Lord, in dark of night,
And wake me with Your morning light.”

Davey made another verse:
(I helped him with the spelling)

“And as I go to sleep, dear Lord,
I’d like to ask for one thing more:
Be with me all my waking hours,
And keep me, Lord, for I am Yours.”

Here is Davey’s complete bedtime prayer (without all his personal “God blesses”):

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Stay with me, Lord, in dark of night,
And wake me with Your morning light.”
And as I go to sleep, dear Lord,
I’d like to ask for one thing more:
Be with me all my waking hours,
And keep me, Lord, for I am Yours.”
“Amen”

Parents, think about your children’s prayers.  Pray with them.  Think, and pray, and teach them well.

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Satan Summer – Temporary Season, But Deadly While It Lasts

Satan Summer, Back Off!

~~~~~~~

You are a bully, I’m oppressed

Your endless drought gives me no rest

You’re in my pers’nal space

You’re all up in my face

You’re breathin’ brutal monster breath

No matter what, I still have faith

My Lord will put you in your place!

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Love’s Deep

Love’s Deep

 He awoke suddenly, startled into full consciousness from a deep sleep. It was the reverberation of the dream that had roused him. He blinked and turned onto his back. From experience, he knew that when he awoke right after having a dream that he could remember that dream, but this was different. It was as though the memory had preceded the waking. It had been so intense, so vivid, so full of implications that weren’t apparent at the moment. So…….. intentional………

 He had just opened the door to one of the stalls in Grandpa’s old red barn so that he could get his riding mower and cut the grass around the house. He had paused for a moment, turning to enjoy the clear blueness of the Spring sky and the excited singing of the birds, when he saw her walking toward him from the direction of the house. His beautiful young wife was smiling as she approached. She was full of life and showed it in the confident way she carried her tall, slim frame, and in the way she was dressed. Today she was wearing a black, form-fitting dress with white trim circling the neckline, the sleeves, and the bottom hem. There was quite a contrast between her dress and his short-sleeved blue work shirt, jeans, and boots, as well as between her light hair and eyes that matched the sky, and his dark hair and deep brown eyes. As she came closer, he remembered that she had a Ladies’ Group meeting at church at ten o’clock this morning. She was coming out here to say goodbye. That was sweet of her. He felt his love for her welling up as it always did at the mere sight or thought of her. He ‘drank in’ her look, from her long, straight, light brown hair, to her blue eyes, to her amazing lips framing an even more amazing smile. He also ‘drank in’ the look in her eyes. The look of love she usually had for him was unusually intense this morning! It was remarkably deep, even mysteriously so. Enthusiastically ardent. Strongly, deeply emotional. Then the touch of her hands on his face was tender, implying a deep spiritual desire; her kiss, intimately personal, fervently powerful, her affection fiercely burning, evoking blazing bonfires and wild horses galloping, their muscles rippling. Enigmatically, mysteriously inexplicable, it was. He had heard of unconditional love, but this time it was palpable – graspable in a new way, and solidly unchangeable. And now the surfaces and interfaces between them were disappearing and they were somehow moving into each other, not necessarily becoming one, not this moment, but inhabiting one another completely. This was the way they both wanted to stay forever. This was love. Maybe seconds, maybe millennia later, she withdrew from the embrace, running her hands down his arms. Squeezing each others’ hands, they still inhabited each other – occupied each other, their eyes locked, arms still reaching toward the other. Transfixed in wonder, he had never known such a loving feeling directed toward himself. He watched her turn………. and then he was awake and alone in awe and frustration in his dark bedroom.

 The dream, itself had only lasted a few seconds. Short, as dreams go, it was over much too quickly. “And, how strange,” he thought, as he reflected on it. “We were so young………..”

 He was sixty-eight now. Grandpa had been dead for fifty years. After Grandpa had passed on, his dad and he had taken over the farm Grandpa built. Four-hundred acres of row crops, pastures, livestock facilities, and grain storage buildings had been a handful. After Mom died, Dad was never the same. His windmill no longer turned in the wind and he had died too. Then he, Dave, and his new wife, Mary, had run the place until it became too much for them and they leased out the croplands on shares. He still called it “Grandpa’s farm”, though, and the barn was still “Grandpa’s barn”. That part was true to life, but in the dream he was young, and the worst part of all was that the young ‘wife’ in the dream was not Mary………. . Mary had been beautiful, yes, but she’d had dark hair and hazel eyes. And she had died three years ago. But his dream had seemed so real. The girl was a stranger, yet had ‘really been’ his wife. It was like another reality – a different life. And her love – the love between them was real – overwhelmingly real. “Get a hold of yourself, Dave,” he muttered to himself.

 “Ohhhh God, You know I’ve been so lonely, why would You do this to me? It felt like I was cheating on the memory of my Mary. What was the good in that?

Why would You show me a love like that, so intense, so powerful, when even my true love, Mary, and I hardly ever had moments that deep?”

He thought about the overwhelming, intensely deep, real love he had experienced in the dream. He wanted that so badly. How could a man taste that and not pursue it forever? His silent inner-weeping welled up.

“Ohhhh, Lord ………..”

 Then a quiet voice spoke so intensely into his soul that his whole body jerked:

That’s The Way I Love You” …………….

The revelation swirled through him, his whole being tingling. The realization that it was true permeated his being with a warm joy, a welcome peace……..

 “Ohhhh, my Lord, I never knew it was like that.”

His whole being was being flooded with astoundingly wonderful word-pictures. The Lover and the Beloved. Visions filled with fragrance, with music, with flavor, and color:

Love’s deep, yearning pursuit…….

Love’s deep, longing, desire……….

Love’s deep summoning……………..

Love’s deep, fiery-wild embrace…..

Love’s deep, caring concern…………

Love’s deep, all-inhabiting indwelling.

Love’s deep Romance……………………..

Your Deep, YOURS, my Lord …………………….. Oh, how You romance us! And that is only part of it, isn’t it. That’s only the tip of the iceberg that my human heart can perceive, isn’t it? But….. but, Lord, I still don’t understand why You didn’t use my Mary to show me……………………..”

You had to know the difference.

…………………………………………….“ Yes, You are sufficient, Lord. I’ve been needing something, but I just didn’t know what. I feel a lot better, Lord, and I thank You. You love me that much?

Now and evermore have I loved you both.”

I only wish I could return that kind of love”………..

You can, in your way. It is within you.

He tried and tried to find the right words to describe the miraculous encounter, the precious revelation. How could he tell it to others? Love’s selfless deep? Love’s wondrous deep? Love’s unreserved deep? Love’s unconditional deep? It was so mind-boggling. Love’s fathomless deep! Yes that’s it!

Be vigilant, child. Your commission is set. Now find your new heart.”

He tried to go back to sleep and continue the dream. Once in a great while, that actually worked………..…………………

 The next morning was Sunday morning. He got ready for church with a new passion for praise and worship of his Almighty Loving Father and Savior. He had a feeling that this service would be special.

 He was drawn to sit toward the back of the auditorium, on the left side. He usually sat in the center, but the center seemed too crowded. As the soft pre-worship music permeated the large space, he became aware of the conversation of the two ladies who sat in front of him. He was not one to eavesdrop, yet he couldn’t help but gather bits and pieces of their conversation, mostly from the one on the right who spoke rather too loudly and too much. He determined that the lady on the left, who was more soft-spoken, was visiting from out-of-state. She seemed about his age. There was something about a young man, possibly her son. Something was all wrong. He was in love with the wrong girl, perhaps. He saw a tear roll down her cheek, and heard the words “lonely”, and “Joe”, and, “ intense personal relationship”, and “ he loves so deeply”.

 “Looks like I’m not the only one thinking about love today,” he thought.

 The worship songs were fervent and meaningful. The message by Pastor DeWayne wasn’t about love, as he had expected, but was about rescue and redemption, which, when he thought about it, had a lot to do with love. The end of the service was coming too quickly for him.“Now it’s time to stand and form groups of three or more to pray for each other,” said the pastor. Since Dave was part of the church’s prayer team, he knew what to do. There was no-one close except for the two ladies in front of him, so he leaned forward and said, “How can I pray for you sisters this morning? My name is Dave. Do you have any prayer needs? I, personally have some back pain I could use some intercession for, but mostly I have praises.”

 “Oh, I have some arther-itis in my fingers that’s been botherin’ me,” stated the one on the right, the louder and shorter of the two, “I’m Betty and this is Sarah. She’s from Texas, ya know,” she inserted, before the taller, more reserved woman could respond. “Pleased to meet you,” everyone said at once.

 “Let’s join hands, if that’s all right, and form a circle. You know Jesus said that wherever two or three or more gather in His name, He will be there in their midst.” They did, and Dave poured himself into praying for Betty’s fingers, and into praises for their Lord. Betty prayed about Dave’s back, rather too long. “Amen,” Dave smiled to himself when she finished.

 “Sarah, you haven’t said much. You don’t have to be shy around here. Isn’t there something we can pray for you?”

 “Well, it’s complicated, but I think I’m okay. Thank you so much for the thought. I have mostly praises myself, like you said.”

 “No she’s not okay,” blurted Betty. “She’s all in a tizzy because she dreamed of this young man last night and she felt like she was cheatin’ on the memory of her husband, Joe. On top of that, she’s been beside herself with loneliness – jist emptiness, poor thing, since Joe passed. Could we please talk to God about that?”

 “I can relate, Sarah,” Dave said softly with compassion, “I lost my wife, Mary, too.” He felt Sarah’s discomfort. The hand he was holding began to sweat and so did his. Her hand was so soft……. . What Betty had said began to sink in.

 “I told you all that in confidence, Betty,” she said calmly, “But you missed the point. God used that dream to show me His immense love for me, and I’m at peace now. She looked at her hand in Dave’s. His hand was so strong…… . She began to blush. Dave looked at her face. She was downright pretty! That smile looked very familiar. His face began to flush.

“Uhhhh, what’s goin’ on here,” Betty demanded.

Dave noticed that he had dropped Betty’s hand and that he was holding Sarah’s in both of his.

 What was going on? Dave’s eyes met Sarah’s clear blue eyes and hers met his deep browns. And in that moment they knew their new hearts.

 “Sarah, did you, by any chance, ever have a black dress with white trim?”

 Her eyes began to fill with tears. “Did you ever have an old barn?”

 “Yes, and I still have it!” they both exclaimed.

 (“Now and evermore, I have loved you both, He said.”)

 With that, an increasing knowing passed between them and they began the long fall into the Deep of one another. No, not the depths. That’s another thing. The Deep – not a place, but a state of being! It was the manifestation of His all-encompassing, all-pursuing, all-inhabiting Romance imparted from God to person and from person to person, the Deep calling to the Deep , the Deep occupying the Deep, the Deep exquisitely alive in the Deep!

 “Selfless Deep?” Dave asked, wide-eyed.

 “Yes. Wondrous Deep?”

 “That’s right. Unreserved? Unconditional?”

 “Love’s Fathomless Deep?” They both began to giggle like children.

 By now, Betty was beside herself, feeling very left out. “You two know each other, right? Or is this some kind of coincidence? You’re speakin’ your own language. Please, give me a clue.”

 “More like a Godincidence, Betty,” quipped Dave without ever taking his gaze from Sarah’s eyes.

 “My friend, we have a lot to explain. We will fix your befuddlement,” said Sarah warmly. “I met Dave last night in my – our – miraculous dream, then in person just now. We knew each other – know each other. It’s hard to explain but we have been given something, and have been shown something very special that is going to knock your socks off! First we will tell you all about it, then we will tell the whole world. Spreading the message of His universal love for His people is the mission He is calling us into as we speak. It’s as though He is outfitting us with everything we need for a long journey. He is strengthening our connection with each passing second.”

 (“Your commission is set, He said”)

 “That’s the truth, my dear. Let me take you both to lunch and we will fill you in, Betty,” Dave proposed, never letting go of Sarah’s hand. “Sister, God’s love for each of us is so much, well, more than we ever thought, or knew. You’re not going to believe the way God loves you, and He’s telling us that we could use your personal testimony as an eye witness to our miracle as we travel, if you are feeling the strong pull of the Holy Spirit in that direction.”

 “If only you knew,” now Betty’s emotions were rising. “I’ve been needin’ something myself. Been feelin’ restless, and I’ve been havin’ thoughts and dreams and ideas about goin’ out and tellin’ the good news of Jesus. I never much thought I would be a good evangelist, but the good Lord has been preparin’ me in little ways that I didn’t much notice until now. I had a feelin’ He would send somebody to me sooner or later. That’s the way He works. He sends jist the right person at jist the right time. His timing is always good. I was kinda hopin’ for Him to send a sister………..or a man……………but, anyway, I cain’t wait to hear what He revealed to you two. I love to hear personal testimonies and you must have a doozie! I love to tell mine too. It’s jist little and simple, but there is great power even in a little story about Him. Yep, I think the fields are white for the pickin’ and I’m ready to go, I’m ready to learn and grow and give my life to Kingdom work! Oh! Praise the Lord, I’m so blessed! Yes! I’m up for lunch and I cain’t hardly wait to learn from you two. This is my calling, I jist know it! You’re not gonna believe how much I like to talk. Prolly too much! Oh, my heavens, I’m doin’ it again aren’t I? Hahahaha!”

 Dave and Sarah smiled intently as they heard every word Betty said, hearts beating wildly, hand in hand, and all the while immersed in the rich, deep, love inside each-other’s eyes.

It’s something like this……

Copyright © by Lenn Snider 5-3-2012

All Rights Reserved

Your Daughter, My Mother

A slightly melancholy look at a child’s love.

A celebration for, and of, my mother.

A prayer for one whose absence is always felt.

Love You, Mom,

Me

Your Daughter My Mother

Dear Heavenly “Grand”-Father,

Many years ago; more than twenty-two,

You made Mom a place to live

When she went away

To live with You.

Would You go there today,

Right up to her house,

And give her, for me,

A nice new dress, a flowery skirt,

A pretty blouse?

Would You give her

Nice-looking sandals,

Some beautiful shoes?

Oh Grandpa, today I’m getting the blues….

Please tell her I miss her.

We are too far apart.

All the time and the distance,

She’s still in my heart.

Would You put a sparkling

Crown on her head?

Or just hold her hand?

Would You give her, today,

A big Daddy-hug?

The warmest kind as only You can?

And tell her that her prayers for me

Were answered by You,

And are being still,

To this very day.

Tell her I’m finally free.

I’m on Jesus’ path,

I’m following Your Way.

Maybe not all that she hoped and she prayed just yet,

But much closer, Grand-Daddy,

Much closer this day.

Today, she just seems much too far away….

So thank her for me.

It’s heavy to bear,

That it’s Mothers Day here and she’s way up there.

But tell her I will soon see her, perhaps!

Until then, maybe give her a dance.

Will you give her a flower?

Lord, give her a laugh.

Tell her that I can hardly wait.

I’ll see her at the garden gate –

The one on the west,

When I finally come.

Meantime, Grandpa, please give her my best.

Your best too, ’cause we love her.

And just because she’s Your daughter,

And because she’s my mom!


Forever Home

                    

                  Forever Home

 

When our count of days goes way too fast

When earthbound lives are gone and past

 

In sad, lamenting grief we’re cloaked

We limp to You, our only hope

 

We lost them, those who were our own

Or were they not, and just on loan

 

With great compassion You lift us up

For what You gave them, they left with us

 

By Your grace, it’s their Love we’ve enjoyed

So eternal, enduring, death can’t destroy

 

Fragrantly lingering, it wafts through our hair

Like tropical breezes, love whispers its care

 

And we know they are with us, as You’ve been from the start

For their love warms our being, lifts our limbs, and our heart.

 

So, there lies our hope, it’s Your love and Your faith

You care about us, Your plan is in place

 

We lack understanding, only You know

How to bring home your people, You care for each soul

 

For You have given us this sleep

The one that, here, we think so deep

 

Yet it is light, and lasts but a whit

So brief, and at the end of it

 

We waken to You, forever home

At last, Your Treasure is our own.

 

At last! Your Joy is now our own!

Image

A Study In Black

The color black has been maligned all through history, but I’ve been using one of the benefits of the arguably-ominous color  for years.  Most nights, when I close my eyes to attempt sleep, I’m deluged with a flood of images, pictures, scenes, and mental videos brought about by the thought of today’s events and tomorrow’s coming trials, and the accompanying problem-solving that my brain performs whether awake or asleep. Like many people, I think in pictures but it is extremely difficult to go to sleep with the chaos of racing picture-thoughts overstimulating my mind. The back of my eyelids should be a calm, restful, black, and not a screen for an action-adventure movie. So I devised a “device” by which I could stop thinking and turn off the projector. I began to visualize a blackboard which I could erase with a standard black eraser.

In case you are too young to know what a blackboard was ( I could be wrong, but it seems to me there are hardly any left these days, having been replaced by “green blackboards”, “whiteboards” and “smartboards”) it was a large piece of slate (which is a thin, black, kind of rock) cut into a large, thin rectangle and hung on the wall of a school room to be written on with chalk. Thus they were also called “chalkboards”,  and my educational life (all of it) was spent sitting in front of,  if considered in total,  The Great Wall of China in chalkboards.  Whether due to various punishments, or by choice sometimes, I erased lots of them.  I was good at it.  Obsessively so.  Thorough and meticulous beyond the call of duty.  So it came naturally to erase the blackboard behind my eyelids. If the pictures try to come back, I keep erasing them until I achieve a smooth, plush, black-velvety surface.  At first it required concentration and focus; persistence and perseverance.  With practice, it became much easier, almost second nature.  Now I associate the whole process with sleep.  It’s like biofeedback.  As soon as I get the “eraser” out, the thoughts and pictures flee and the next thing I know, it’s morning!

So, one recent morning I started thinking about “black”. ( Hahaha, some lead in, huh?)  Black is a strange thing.  It helps me sleep.  It is a color. It is also a non-color – a condition.  It depends on the source of the particular blackness we are considering.  In our normal day-to-day life, blackness is a color due to pigments which reflect or emit very, very, little light. Some people say that black contains all the known colors. That is false. Contrary to logic and even intuition, the truth is that white light contains all the colors.

When the source of blackness isn’t pigment, it is simply the absence of light.  In the first case, blackness is due to something we can see, and in the second case it is due to something we can’t see.  The subject can be made more complicated than that, but I’m trying to keep this simple. The scientist in me wants to go into voluminous detail here, but I will spare you that.  If you were wondering, I also want to make it clear that skin colors have absolutely no bearing on anything said here and will not be addressed here.  That is a separate subject, but I will say this: As far as I know, souls have no color.  It is only souls that matter.  In my book, God created them all and loves them all the same.

So, there are black objects and there are times and places that are dark because of the lack of light. I suddenly realized that most of us possess both of these categories of black things in a very obvious place – in the pupils of our eyes! As soon as I thought of that, I rushed to the mirror and stared at my own pupils – the portals through which light enters my physical being, to be focused through a dark place, to enable me to perceive it. I was observing light entering that dark part of myself by using that very same dark part! I stared in awe for a long time just thinking of the interplay and relationship between light and darkness. The paradox, the mystery, the epiphany I felt was an astounding experience – a wonder – you should try it!   

I could go on and on, because that is what I do, but, in the interest of getting to the point, I will simply list some of my thoughts about “black”, and “darkness” for you to think about.  Yes, as usual, I actually have a point.

Black is the color of darkness.

Black and darkness are synonymous, but are different.

Black is the color of these words; of this study.

{Methinks “A Study In Black”

Used black ink to write all that.}

Black-darkness gives context and lends contrast to light – helps to define light.

Black is the canvas on which lights are painted, the milieu in which the galaxies stew.

Black is the tapestry on which the epic Story of Light is recorded.

Black is the blanket which tried in vain to cover and smother the power of The Light.

Black is the substance of light hoped for, the evidence of bright glories unseen.

How could light run and play, spin and dance, without its expansive playground of darkness?

Light was the first thing created.  Does it go unsaid that darkness had to be put in place first, to provide light with a place to be?

The brothers Black and Darkness have lots of negative connotations associated with them, but I like them.

{They help me to sleep.

They help me to write.

They inhabit my eyes.

They help me see light….}

And Darkness saw the light, but could not apprehend it, comprehend it, understand it, nor perceive it.  Darkness opposed the light, but could not overwhelm it, cover it, extinguish it, overtake it, overcome it, nor overpower it.

I have to wonder if, on that darkest day on Calvary, when all Heaven and Earth despaired, perhaps all Creation’s Light hid itself in its grief and mourning, returning only when The Life returned…….

God’s creation of the color black and the condition called darkness surpasses our understanding, yet, we can be certain that it serves His purposes for the good of those who love Him.

Here’s the point.  Even in considering darkness and blackness, I point to God and glorify Him with this writing.  God created darkness, and, in my opinion, He created blackness, among numerous other reasons, to give the darkness a color. Faith tells me that He had reasons and purposes for darkness that we, as creatures of The Light, don’t fully appreciate nor understand.

Isaiah 14:24   The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.

Isaiah 55:9  “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

Just as the crisp, dark, night sky and the deep-cold, empty black of space help me to see the piercing light of the far stars and planets, so does the invisible black-darkness of the opposition make clear the penetrating Light of My Life, Jesus Christ.

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