30 May 2010
66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb.
"That early morning I saw myself as I really am, a mere Christian, a hungry follower of Jesus who desperately wants to hear whatever God is telling me, a man [woman!] in misery who wants only one thing, not relief from misery (although that would be nice), but hope - hope of intimacy and meaning and joy forever, in relationship with God." (p xviii)
That's what I want! That's my "core"!!!
"We try to reach the heart of God without listening to [reading] the Word of God. When I couldn't see Rachel [wife-to-be-one-day], I discovered her heart by reading her words [in her letters]. That's a good plan to follow with God." (p xix)
I just realized - that's probably why I love journaling so much. I grew up writing long letters to many friends and relatives, who reciprocated. Then, when I was home schooling my children in a rather remote community where there were few other home schoolers, I became part of a large community of people walking that journey together, all over the world, and we wrote long email letters daily.
But in the past few years, I have found few people who have the time, energy, interest, or inclination for that kind of long, deep discussion - whether written, or face-to-face spoken. I did belong to a couple really interesting "Bible study" groups that really did delve together into the Word, and we totally invited - asked, begged, cried out to - Father to be part of, to lead, our conversations. But those meetings were once a week, for a couple set hours each time. Not like letter writing, which one can sit down and continue, any time, any place.
At the time I really started journaling, I had needed some one to communicate with on a deep level. Rarely having any one (I tried, but people were busy, or far away, or not inclined, or whatever) I started writing in journals. Some of it was just "dumping, getting it all out." Things were really tough in my life just then. Maybe it was a good thing I was dumping on paper rather than on real people!
But then, every once in a while when I'd emptied my torn heart until I had nothing more to say, I would start to hear Father's voice in the empty silence. At about that time, a pastor recommended actually asking the Lord to speak through His word, directly to yourself, and to write down whatever you hear Him say. That was a kind of novel idea to me. I started trying it, with my daily Bible reading, and when I would (delightedly!) hear His voice in the midst of my journaling/ Bible study note taking, I'd write down what I heard Him say - to me!
And I'd ask questions about what He'd just said. Or I'd thank Him over and over, in awe that He'd actually talk directly to me, like that.
And reading the quotes above, just now, I realized: For me this is THE CORE I've been seeking. I've been looking for a writing related business, but needing a center. Needing a hub. Thank You, Lord. This is the One Thing I've been seeking! Hearing You, learning from You, sharing what You teach me. (Far more exciting and far more important that "internet marketing" or something like that).
"With a growing awareness of the biblical narrative and a deep commitment to always knowing more, visions and prophetic words and impacting passages and inner sensations have their place. But without that awareness and commitment, these avenues of communication from God might instead become opportunities for self-serving imagination." (p xx)
That's exactly right! At the same time I started journaling, I had also been digging deep in Your word - looking for answers, encouragement, direction. anything that might rescue me or at least keep my head above water (even literally: I was going through such a dark time that one day I cam very close from jumping from a high bridge into fast-flowing icy waters in mid-winter. I didn't, though. God spoke to me as I stood there on th edge, longing to jump and float away into ... well, oblivion, endless sleep - that's what I longed for. And maybe, who knows (You do, of course), maybe You'd been teaching Me to hear Your voice, while reading Your word, and writing in my journal, to prepare me to be able to hear Your voice in that very moment.)
I was never much for "visions and prophetic words." So for me, desperately reading Your word, and dumping my breaking heart on paper (and in the process, starting to hear from You)...
Well, I didn't really know You as "Father" at that stage. You know I'd had "father" issues of my own. But You were preparing my heart, softening it, making me long for both father and Father conversations - and relationships. When I began to heart your voice - and then, timidly, tenuously, even doubtful of whether this "hearing God's voice" experience was "real" or "right" or even "allowed," I began to actually converse with You - with paper and pen in those difficult mama times.
And slowly, I began to experiment with the possibility that You might want to have some kind of Father-child relationship with me.
Then You sent along The Shack. And whatever other folks may think about that book, through it You reached into my heart - and suddenly I knew! You love me! You love me!! You love me!!!
You are my Father! Even better, You are my Papa! My loving Papa! And conversing with You is good and right and natural and wonderful and love-ly!!!
My journaling after that simply became more and more conversations with You, my Papa-Father. I'd so often start out just writing about what I had been doing or experiencing, or making notes from what I was reading in Your word. But next thing I knew, I'd be talking directly to You, my Papa - and to my Savior Jesus, and to my Holy Spirit.
("My Holy Spirit" - that still sounds kind of surprising to me. Of course I know He's Your Spirit - but He's also "mine" in the sense that I am Yours and You are mine. And You three are One, and I am united with You forever because of the shed blood and the resurrection life of my Jesus!) (Yes!)
It is true that the words we "hear" You speak in our hearts must be backed up by Your written word, as Your Spirit guides us and teaches us through it. And not just by a line or verse or chapter here or there, but by knowing - reading over and over and over again - and asking You, Father, to teach me and guide me with Your Spirit speaking to my spirit - the whole big story, even the apparently old and obscure and "difficult" parts. And the more I get into it, the more it all comes together, the more it is inter-connected. The more I SEE. And the more easily I know whether those words I hear in my heart (even "prophetic words and visions"!) are really You speaking - or just me, my wishes and pre-suppositions, or the "teachings of men," or the deceit of the enemy - or all of those together....
Not only is knowing "God's word" necessary in that way, but it becomes a delight, something I long for, thirst for, can't get enough of. Though the enemy and my flesh sure do their best to distract me and to supply fake but apparently attractive alternaties. Because Your word becomes a real, live, relational, love conversation between me and my Papa.
"Oh God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul yearns for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is not water... 4 So I will praise You as long as I live... 5... and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. 6. when I remember You... I meditate upon You... 8. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:1-8
So when I read - and write - together, and I jot down what You speak to me; then we are sharing our hearts, writing love letters to each other, together. Praise Your holy Name! Thank You, Jesus, for making it all possible. Yes! Praise the Lord! Amen!