Welcome to Day 2 of Chapter 5 from Arise & Shine’s Part 7. Today, Anna is bringing forward our second free will offering of the Stone Tablets: Revealing the Covenant and Testimony of Jesus (the Word fulfilled).
Did you know in Habakkuk 2:14 the “knowledge” spoken of is the Word (yada) also used in Genesis 4:1 for Adam knowing his wife Eve, intimately: Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” Through Jesus we now have the incredible privilege of getting to know the depths of our God’s love for us. That Word “glory” speaks both of an abounding fountain and a weight of honor, but also of a heavy burden. When we follow Jesus, we enter into the knowledge of that glory, as He takes us deeper into His love and the burden He carries for each one of His children who He so longs to welcome home.
As a little girl, I yearned for more than a surface level knowing of this God my heart and soul cried out for. I longed to yada Him, desiring to know the depths of His grace. But for that intimacy to begin to flow between us, God knew I would first need to taste His glory. I would need to walk through deep wounding and trauma as that little girl, and again as an adult – until by His grace, I could begin to walk in His Son’s footsteps, trusting His heart of love and mercy toward me and toward each beloved child of His He set before me.
He knew that only through this wounding and trauma could I truly begin to know Him as I longed to know Him. Only then could I begin to taste His grace in the depths of my own heart and could I begin to extend that same grace to others from my whole heart- from the heart of Christ beating within me. So, for more than twenty years, He chose not to intervene, as His heart ached for me, as He watched me blinded in my sin, going through life believing He had abandoned and rejected me.
Now, I can see that during those Prodigal years He took me deeper into His heart for me and for each one of us, as I broke bread with other lost sheep I can now see the face of Jesus in. These are men and women I never would have otherwise met or loved so deeply from the heart of Christ inside of me (that never ever left me), was it not for that Prodigal journey to the other side of the world.
God brought me home all those years later, by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon me during one of the most painful and traumatic times of my life: the palpable peace He poured out upon me was indescribable – and it’s then I knew without a doubt that this was not the god I had made of Him as that traumatized little girl, blinded by her sin. And it is through coming to know His pure heart of love and compassion for me and each of these children of His I had grown to love, that God broke my heart open. He empowered me to leave the ninety-nine to go after the one.
This is not the life I envisioned for myself as a pastor’s kid and missionary kid. I am now hemmed in on all sides, and far removed from the organized church-centered life I once knew. But crazily I am beginning to see how God has in fact been busily answering the deep cries of my little girl heart, from all those years before:
1. As a preteen my heart most desired to know God’s grace, the way new Christians know Him that haven’t grown up in the safe confines of a church, men and women who have been delivered from a life of abuse, trauma and the darkness of sin. Little did I know that many of the lost sheep I would meet had in fact grown up in the organized church, but had either not met the love and person of Jesus there, or had even walked through horrific abuse and trauma in that “safe” setting.
2. As a little girl I dreamt of becoming a missionary like Gladys Aylward: the little woman who was told by all the believers around her that God couldn’t have called someone like her: a woman, uneducated, ill, poor, not theologically trained etc. But Gladys chose to ignore her fellow believers’ criticism and followed that still small Voice inside of her into the depths of China. There, she brought her beloved Jesus to hundreds of abandoned and traumatized children in China.
As a kid, I didn’t think about how much pain Gladys must have walked through to even begin to realize that dream God gave her. I also didn’t realize how necessary that pain is to grow our trust and devotion for our LORD and the call He has placed upon our life. And neither did I realize that the call God has placed upon our life isn’t just to bring His love to others, but it is also designed to sanctify and purify our own hearts in His love – to make us all One in Him.
Now, I wouldn’t change any of my story because through it I know Jesus in a way I never would otherwise. God’s grace and compassion (suffering with me) in my weakness and stumbling have only grown my love for Him and His Body. I have come to discover, and am still daily discovering, just as Marlo Schalesky that:
[… ] Jesus is born where life stinks. He comes to us not in our palaces but in the stinky, smelly, dirty, unadorned places in life. And there, only there, do we discover something deep and wondrous about the God we follow. We discover that he is the God who takes our life-yuck and transforms it. He takes the places in life where nothing is as we wanted it to be and makes them the very place we encounter the Messiah born in us.P.72, Wrestling With Wonder by Marlo Schalesky
I know I have only just begun to scratch the surface of knowing that weight of glory – the heavy burden Christ carries for each one of us and His Body collectively to be made One in Him. But oh how my heart aches already. How deeply He must love us all and yearn to make His glory known to each one of us in its full extent: in the unveiling of Jesus fully and wholly in each one of us.
Will you join me as I end today’s free will offering in prayer and praise and worship (with a song from my native Aotearoa, New Zealand)? May your heart be moved as you too look back to see His fingerprints of glory all over your life. May you see how He is writing a letter of love through your life to you and to each one of His beloved children.
Thank You, Papa, that You are even now drawing near to each one of us, desiring heart to heart fellowship with us. Thank You for the river of life flowing from Your throne. Thank You for now covering the people of the earth with Your glory, just as water once covered the molten sea basin of the Holy Temple. Thank You for now giving us the honor and privilege of serving as Your holy priests in drawing near to You.
Thank You for consecrating us in Your Son, for drenching us in Your water of life and sending us out as Your messengers carrying the Good News of salvation. Thank You for fencing in and wholly possessing us, for replenishing, confirming and refreshing us through personal and intimate experiences of Your holy Son. Through an intimate knowing of His bosom, His soul, His burdens, His intrinsic weight of honor and His abounding fountains of grace.
Thank You for inviting us to glory in the Cross, wherein we enter into Your deep love that conquers all sin and death, filling us with compassion and mercy for one another, joining us to each other in You, even beyond the grave, making us One in a faith, hope and love born of the Holy Spirit in us. In the Name of Your precious Son, Jesus, Amen.
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