Lenten Reflections V – on walking towards Jerusalem

Some weeks ago I wrote about having experienced some big changes in my heart which enabled me to make a decision of significance.  God spoke to me so clearly from so many directions that I was changed by him.  I promised that I would write about them, and I know that I’ve been avoiding writing my Lenten Reflection for the past week.  I am not sure what it is that is holding me back from writing this here – maybe because a few weeks on although I still know the truth of my experience, the decision I’ve made is hard.  And maybe I wish that I’d been given a different message ? maybe I wish I could deny the reality of it ?

So maybe today is the day.

This is my act of faith. This is my witness.

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I have documented in this blog the journey I’ve been on. The ways that God has let me know that he understands me and he loves me. I didn’t think I was loved or understood by the people that I wanted to love me and understand me.  I had been very, very badly hurt. I needed to not only know that I was loved in a – ‘love is not a feeling it’s an act of will’ – kind of way, but that I was loved in a ‘crazy about you’ way too. I’ve never been able to relate to the worship songs that talk about being loved by God in a more passionate and intimate way. I needed convincing that if a person couldn’t love me like that, in a way that I could trust and rely upon, that God would fill that gap in my life.

And God has taken this extraordinarily painful time in my life to let me experience his intimate deep love. I’ve been mistrustful and cautious but knowing that I have nothing else I’ve leaned into God. Slowly, slowly I was being brought to a point of utter dependence.

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On a Thursday I wrote in my journal that I couldn’t go on. That I wondered if my will was obstructing my emotions. I wrote out my prayer that I would see my situation with fresh eyes – God’s eyes. That my heart would be changed. I wrote that I didn’t know what to do and that I was utterly reliant on him.

I didn’t remember that I’d written that until the following week when I re-read the entry.

On the Friday I went away with a friend for a break. I couldn’t have felt more desolate. I woke up the next morning and I just wanted to stay hidden in my bed for ever. I didn’t want to have to get up or even return to my home at the end of the weekend. I felt heavy and sad. We spent the morning walking and talking.  In the afternoon I tried Found poetry for the first time ever. The first was written having prayed for the Spirit to speak through a bible passage. I noted the words which stood out for me and I blacked out the rest. I was amazed by what remained. It felt like a very personal message to me. The next stage was to free write for 10 minutes and then select the phrases which stood out and then arrange them in a particular order. Again I was blown away by the message that formed.  God is enough. He won’t hurt me. I don’t need to be shamed. I should sing.  I shared my poems here. If you read my former blog posts you will understand the significance of these things, but I won’t rehearse them here.

The next morning I woke and for the first time in a long, long time I felt happy. Inexplicably so. I had no problem getting out of bed. I felt greedy for life. Then I read my bible. I follow a 2 year set pattern of readings. This was the reading that morning. Isaiah 58:

“The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

I hadn’t been to church in quite a long time, not because I don’t want to worship in community but because circumstances are such that I can’t go where I usually go. That morning we went to church.  A church outside of my normal tradition and one about which I’d been rather suspicious of.  God met me there too. One phrase jumped out from the sermon “Submission to the love of God”. I realised that was what I was being called to. I couldn’t submit before because I wasn’t sure about the love of God. It seems awful to say that even though I am sure of the truth of Christ and the resurrection that I wasn’t sure.

I can say that because I believe that it’s ok to be me, a person who understands reality through feelings.

I needed to feel the love of God. and I had. powerfully.  I was at a point of being able to submit my will to God’s. So I did.

There were a few more extraordinary messages in the following days, all of which confirmed the truth that I was loved, known and knew the path ahead. I told those who pray for me.

And now three weeks on……

I’ve been thinking about the fact that so much of this journey has taken place during Lent.  I have learned so much as I keep looking towards the cross and Easter.

This week the verse that has been in my mind is Luke 9:51

‘Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem’.

He had made his decision. He was submitting to the love of God. He knew what his choice involved. There was tremendous cost – loss and pain and separation and ultimately death. Yes, resurrection , but first all those other things.  I am not in any way comparing my choice to his, but the hope that it gives me is that I  am sure that I am not turning resolutely to face in the direction I must go without someone by my side who understands just how hard this is.

God is enough.

Enough for the hard choices.

Enough for the resolute walking.

Enough for all that will happen on the journey.

and then resurrection.

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