It usually begins with a simple prayer. Something like...Lord I want to know you in a deeper way. I want to love and depend on you more. I look for something to bring me to this sweet fellowship of prayer and intimacy with the Lord. Maybe experiencing Him in the dark morning before the sun rises. Maybe through meditation on His love for me and mine for Him. On His rescue of me before time and each and everyday. Maybe through a song, that has just the right words, for where I am and a melody that sweeps me away. But more times than not, it comes through suffering and repentance.
This time was no different. God was calling me to a deeper surrender to know Him deeper. No, it is not that it is up to me. I can't even look to Him in thirst and desire without Him first putting it in my heart. But I can respond to His gentle persuasion. To His lure. To the sweet glance, that He gives me when my heart is broken and broken again. Is there true joy, if there is not suffering? Is there a whisper that meets you in the middle of it all, that calls you to His side?
The last few weeks have been difficult for me, but a new challenge in learning to work through old hard things. Things that may never change. Things I don't like and are uncomfortable for me. They go against my grain. Against my likes and ways. Old patterns and ways I had adopted long ago. I was amazed. I did not return to my old nature of getting sick, yet one more time. Could I really take every thought captive? Could I really discipline my mind not to reject reality and go to a place where there was safety and peace even though an illusion, away from it all. In the delusions and illusions of my mind and where it goes, when I think the pain is too difficult. I put forth every effort, but the human protection that seemed beyond my awareness and control took me to a place of being emotionally detached. I did not realize it. I noticed, I felt no pain in these hard situations, but I also felt no joy. I was mechanically doing the things I needed to do, but I could not keep my heart attached to life. My mind was clear. There were no illusions or delusions or intrusive or obsessive thoughts. I was not depressed or even saddened by it all, for very long at a time. Then the numb, stoic, cold and harden heart would appear again. As I began to see this and see it was much, out of my control, I began to pray.
At the same time these things were happening, I was sensing a call by God to do things, I could not do, to serve Him and love others in ways that were new to me and not yet completely unfolded. It seemed I had prayed for a purpose for so long. I had thoughts about speaking again. Illuminations of writing my journey and how God had brought me out of a life of isolation. A prison of my own making. I told Him, I would do this, but there was a place I had to go to begin and to know the way. This is what He was teaching me. The path to life is through death. The path to bounty is surrender. The path to love, is to lay down my life. The path to obedience is to love Him, more than what I can get. The path to contentment is to trust Him. The path to hope and change is to pray. The path to deep, is not to get into a hole, but to swim to the bottom. Where the beauty of the ocean makes its home. In the very heart of God.
As God began to work these things in me, early this morning, the process was slow. My heart was oh so cold and stubborn. The bible calls it stiff necked. I wanted to hold on to me, for a little while longer. To the things I thought I needed, deserved and wanted to make me happy. It was all an illusion. I needed time to think and work through it all. I couldn't just jump into His arms that were outstretched for me. What if it wasn't worth it all? What if I wanted to change my mind? What if I couldn't love the way He was revealing to me He wanted me to go? What if the Spirit didn't show up? All my fears were resolved as I prayed...Lord if you want me to love in these ways you will provide the changed heart and power and strength, I need to do it and He did.
I have been meditating on the life of Peter. Peter spoke before he thought, but said what was on his mind. He said, I will never forsake you Lord. He denied Christ 3 times, as Jesus foretold. Jesus ask Peter 3 times, Peter do you love me. You know I do Lord, was his reply, 3 times expressing the different loves Peter had for the Lord but most importantly, the love the Lord had for Peter. You are going to go a way you do not want to go Peter, said Jesus. Peter said, what about John? Jesus said it is not your business. You follow me. Jesus gave Peter the blessing of beginning the church on the cornerstone of Jesus. Peter was crucified upside down.