Maintenance – We Have a Place

th-86Have you ever dared to allow your inner child to imagine what it might be like to sit on God’s lap on a big comfy chair with Him, or to sit across the table and share a cuppa with Him, to lean against the doorframe and have a casual chat with Him, or even to gab with Him as you drive? I confess even as an adult I have. And regularly. I’ve imagined Him sitting in on a meeting, gardening with me, folding laundry with me, making dinner with me, even shovelling snow with me. This time though I was swept up into more than just my own imaginings, and I’m convinced what I experienced is as much for your benefit as for mine, which is the (gulp) why I’m sharing. If these words manage to bring any comfort, any hope, any wonder to even one searching heart, it’s worth my taking the risk.

If I dare reduce the very real, very tangible impressions to a soundbite, what would it be?

Quite simply:

We are loved, and more, we have a place.

Come. Risk reading the following in first person, as if it be you recounting it, for my friend, this truly is as much for you as it is for me.

“I was sound asleep, but in my dreams I was wide awake…”
(Song of Solomon 5:2, The Message)

It was as if I had one foot in the bedroom this nighttime, the other in a stunningly spectacular Palace, so dazzling it takes the breath away. I am abuzz with excitement and eagerness, dusty and sweaty as if returning from travels, standing in the arches ready to enter an absolutely strikingly splendid Throne room. There is no palace, no golden ivory arches, no garden on earth that matches the utterly stunning magnificence! I am hugging my Bible (though I know I am welcome without it), and looking directly at my King, my Lord, resplendent in His richly elegant long and stately and radiant robes, sitting on the throne with majestic and welcoming ease. Ah, how I am filled with an inexplicable and beyond-words, beyond-deep love for Him! I am so excited to see Him, so utterly excited that it hums in me. And oh my stars He is excited to see me too! I am at home. These pillars, this floor, this whole experience – all have an inexplicable familiarity to them. “Family” and “wanted” and “Mine” seems to ring and mingle in joyful song in this place. I am relaxed, filled with the serenity of unrestricted and unlimited love, with utter security in Whose I am, with where I am. I have a place. And this moment is mine. Mine alone with Him.

He looks directly at me and in His eyes and His body language, His whole manner really, I see and am immediately drenched in a love so real, so deep, so broad, so high that I know that I can and never will see its limits, for there are none. I have the impression that we have spent time together before: out and inside the archway, on the steps, over there in the chairs surrounding that rather large and substantial round table. A flash of Him walking beside me in my garden, lifting my arms as I shovel snow, holding me as I cry, sitting with me at my computer, hanging onto the strap beside me on the crowded bus, laughing with the family at the dinner table.

“Come,” He calls me by name. “Come, dear one. Come, my precious child,” I hear in my deeps and am soaked in the warmth of the real and kind and broad and inviting smile. “Come, and take your place and sit with Me.” Ooooo! I have a place, I thrill and I can feel myself squeal with delight! I have a place with the King Most High who calls me His very. own. child!!  With arms open wide, He gestures that I come close to His bosom, up upon His lap where I long to be.

I ignore the inner jeer that tries to yank me back down to the bed: Tsk! What are you doing? You’re an adult and don’t sit on anyone’s lap! and besides you’re not yet worthy – and really, let’s face it, won’t ever be. I wave its vapour away and leap forward. I just don’t care. As I run toward Him, it is as if I’m running through and am soaked in a translucent gossamer veil of Love, and all the soot and dust and smelliness of my travels seems to wash away, evaporate behind me. As I bounce forward, I am clean, sparkling even, and am covered in soft, comfortable, and humbly splendid robes. How did that happen? Surprisingly, I’m not really consumed with wanting to know, and my now soft and un-calloused feet press on the cool cobalt-blue marble-like floor as I bolt in sheer delight toward Him, the K.i.n.g., and gleefully snuggle comfortably into Him. He is delighted! This is how He sees me – how He sees us all; this is the relationshipthe culmination of the Plan decided at the foundation of the world so long ago, that our Father and Jesus and the Spirit had prepared all along, and made happen by His Life and the Cross and His resurrection. I am filled with deep, deep gratitude beyond all human expression, so much so that I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust!

I sit on His lap as He sits on His throne, my back leaning into Him as He is leaning forward around me, His Face pressed to the side of my own. His right arm is wrapped in a loving embrace, a hug around me, and His left holds the Bible that I have since opened in my lap. I have my King’s full and complete attention. He affectionately whispers my name, and I feel His breath warm not just my cheek, but radiate to consume me. I feel and hear His Heart beating.

“Show me. Show me, Papa, my King. Read its words into my mind and heart and spirit and soul and body,” I ask of Him, as eagerness to absorb what He is about to say overwhelms me. I am impressed again with the notion that to come empty-handed would be just as welcome: to come as I am, wherever I am is the most important. I have peace in where I am in the bumpy, sometimes jarring and choppy journey that brought me here, and in what I am about to learn. My eyes easily focus on the Word, and my ears on His deep and soothing voice that at the once fills the whole space and soaks my whole insides and outsides. My heart and spirit and soul lift and open themselves like a bud reaching and opening up to warmth of the sun, to the dewy rains of Spring. Even if it is correction that is coming, there is no fear bubbling up within me, no anticipation of condemnation. Rather, I know that I am truly loved, and with that there is only His honest and True wanting for my utter fullness to come to be, and so the need for – and help in – the correction of errant habit or manner in me. It is for my good, to prosper me. I swell with a whole host of emotion. With utter tenderness He wipes it all away, and fills me with His teaching and His encouragement literally lifts me up.

What other word is there than Joy? Joy watered and saturated in Love? Everything embodies Love and I am swept up in Joy in my every iota, every atom, and we share and savour and relish in it together. This, He impresses on me, all of this, is for everyone!

the-narrow-roadOur time is drawing to a close. I don’t really want to leave, but I am comfortable that I must – at least for now. The joy has not lessened in the slightest; instead another layer of contentment is added and renewed purpose is poured into me. I have a place, an important and specific place meant just for me – in this world, and in His Story: a place along my own journey with Him, intertwined with all friendships and acquaintances, and woven together within the greater and vast masterpiece that is all of His Creation, His Narrative.

Re(a)lationship” – this I am to continuously consider. With Him. With everyone.

I am caught up: He has something exciting on the horizon! He leans in first and we share a deep, deep hug as He tenderly whispers my name. Though not sure of the details of steps ahead, their duration or direction, it doesn’t seem to matter. I am oddly content with not knowing the minutia (!!), and am cheerful and I agree to whatever He has for me yet to do. And I want to live long to do for Him! With almost a nod to the Father, the Spirit in my deeps assures me that He knows the way.  I am covered. In many ways it seems.

As I bound toward the archway, clothed in freshly cleaned travel clothes, I look back and we exchange wide smiles. I will tell of this!, I promise Him. He holds my eyes, my spirit, my mind and heart and body in a crazy-loving gaze. Though I have a notion that He doesn’t really need them (after all, He is everywhere at all times I tell myself), I am captured by His delight in my sharing with Him ‘progress reports’, my ‘this and that’. Today, I am to continue to discover His Presence in my everyday, to practice ‘re(a)lationship’. I am to come back often. And He is so looking forward to the next time. I am to come as often as I wish and need, in whatever position – plight or praise, shattered or searching or singing, or anywhere in between. But I am to come. At any time. I won’t ever be interrupting Him. Never bothering Him. And never, at any time, at any moment, will I ever be alone.

Ever.

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God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”
(Exodus 33:14, The Message)

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. (2 Corinthians 3: 16, The Message)

Erin
Soil and Seed

 

 

 

Seasons – All in Good Time

Are you like me? When spring rolls around, and the cleaning of all that winter muck in the garden is done, do you make immediate haste to the garden center? Is there a spring in your step as you bound out of the car and buzz a beeline to the swath of greens and creams, yellows and corals, purples and fuchsias that wave their greeting to you? “Over here!” they IMG_6359
call out in cheerful, perky harmony. “Pick me!” “I’ll do you proud!” “Smell me!” “I’m perfect for that spot beside the balcony!” Coming! Do you wander through the garden center, with eyes wide and excitement building like a little kid who sees and smells that tantalizing dessert buffet laid out in ceremonious and dignified splendor before hankering eyes? And do you keep on buzzing right through each season to fill your outside and inside with the cheerfulness and hope of plant life?

My garden has changed over the years. In my early beginnings, I would cram my fledgling beds with nothing but wonderfully colorful annuals. Mixed Impatiens and Vinca. Zinnia and Pansies. Marigold and Snap-dragons. Verbena and Geraniums. A glorious mix of heights, colorings, appearances and scents. Ongoing enthusiasm infected me. As time progressed, I decided to cut new beds, and transform our whole garden with gorgeously spreading multi-season perennials, leaving room for a few annuals to fill in any bare spots.

Have you ever ignored your present garden’s plantings and leapt ahead to buy more than you have space for? I have. Many times. I seem to keep stocking my trolley for some imaginary country estate, not the modest city garden I have. I have one eye on that first memory of summertime lushness, another to the future on reproducing it in harmony with a hardy mix of perennials. Yet all this visioning occurs without taking into consideration that I have beauty in the present that needs tending, with perhaps only a little room for more. My eyes are bigger than my garden. My glance too quickly jumps to what could be. My eagerness crowds out what is already planted. I allow my lust for lush to guide my eyes, and in that rush I thrill and run ahead of myself.

Correction. I run way ahead of myself. My excitement becomes the excuse for crowding out with willful blindness the perennials that have well taken root and are growing in stunning beauty and with healthy ease. Whoa, girl!

Oh, how I often run ahead of the Gardener too! I fill my future with visions that are ahead of their time. Premature visions based on past “trend” that will be very likely tweaked and pruned at regular intervals to fit the more glorious, the more exquisite Gardener’s landscaping. Too often I have forgotten to savor what I have, and where I am in the present. The now. All too often. One way or the other, just as I am compelled to stop as I try to figure out where these new plants go, sooner or later, I will be stopped in my tracks by the Gardener. Sometimes I have the wherewithal to recognize where I’m headed, and with his help, I reign myself in. And then, he and I recall together when words of kind discipline and grace-filled vision were showered upon me, and the vines of innocent enthusiasm and truth untangled…..

The pathway was as bright as a cloudless summer’s day in this vision, and the Company was just as radiant and warm. It was sublime. The air was soft and gentle as he and I walked together. He was calmly listening, a smile across his face. I was as a child with their dearly cherished parent, eagerly and enthusiastically jibbering and jabbering on and on about hopes and wishes, dreams and visions. As we walk side by side, I could feel my attention being drawn away from his warmth beside me to the many wonderful things themselves. My eagerness and enthusiasm enwraps and propels me further ahead, unbeknownst to me leaving him further behind IMG_0327with each step. Hopes and wishes of what I’d like to be and have, and what I’d wish and hope those I love to have and be. With head now down, I count out these dreams and share visions of what I’d like to accomplish and live out, and an action plan on how to much better inwardly attune myself and truly partner with him. I seemed to be concentrating on the path, attention divided between its surface, and the rapid-fire of thoughts swirling around in my head. Something within me seemed to snap me to attention as I noticed it was a little cooler than when I first began my prattling on. The day and path seems to have gotten darker, and quickly too, I think to myself. I suddenly realize that the light that had surrounded us in the beginning has faded. In fact, there is no us. I am walking alone headlong and headstrong into near-full darkness.

Stop.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil].
(Proverbs 18:10, Amplified Bible)

I turn around in a bit of a panic, and there he is surrounded by that familiar light, waiting for me. So involved I was with my own ideas and wishes and dreams that I had run ahead. Well ahead. Without him. Into a future that was deliberately shrouded from me. O Jesus! What am I doing?! I say to him. I run back to him, and he smiles warmly. He puts his arm around me and draws me in, as he seems to say …

Erin, how I delight in your sharing with me your hopes and dreams! How you tickle me with your infectious and unbridled enthusiasm! But child, do not run ahead of me, for you don’t know the dangers on the road ahead, nor the destination. Stay close. Take hold of my hand. Keep your eyes on me. Share your enthusiasm face to face with me! Rather than looking to the glittering hum of the little of what could be, dividing your attention between path and perhaps, keep your eyes on me for I know the glory of what will be. Stay and remain by my side as my light illumines the present. Erin, I allow you to see only a little ahead of you, for too much would overwhelm you, stress you and distract you from what I call you to do in this present moment: present light-filled moments that pave the way toward that place that is now shrouded, just as this moment was so shrouded in the past from you. Stay close beside me where you will find light, warmth, safety, refreshment, encouragement and strength to handle each step along the pathway. I will provide everything you need, for you are so very dear to me. You are my beloved! Walk with me, as I bless you with my storehouses of abundance and raise you toward your future.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
(Proverbs 23: 18, New International Version)

Rather than run ahead, I need to run to him to linger and listen. Rather than plan in seclusion, I need to power with the One who knows every bend and stretch on the road ahead. Rather than assuming I need to fill in bare spots, I need to leave room for the Gardener’s much more. Rather than suffocate what has been planted, I need to allow it to spread and swell in the Gardener’s care. Rather than looking to the tempting flashes and sights of what could be, I need to turn my face to what is, and the bright light of his all-consuming love, safety, assurance and care. I need to live in the now, not choke out a glorious future, the steps to which I do not yet really know.

Jesus, help me to live alongside you and savor the lushness of each moment of beauty of today, your gift to me. Help me to keep in step with you, and not run ahead. Help me to lay all my todays and tomorrows in the safety and security of your presence.

“So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough IMG_0255trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:34, International Standard Version)

I will chase after Your commandments because You will expand my understanding.
(Psalm 119: 32, The Voice)

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.
(Exodus 32: 25, New International Version)

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1: 9, New International Version)

Erin
Soil and Seed