The Palace

‘We live in a house made of thoughts’, I wrote down, thinking it profound.

Then I had an experience that made me discard all that nonsense.

I used to think that my thoughts were me. No more!

Thoughts of worry, fear, doubt, all of that nonsense, it’s just noise. Like the buzzing of bees or a dinner party I can’t wait to leave.

I retreat into a quiet room inside myself and shut the door.

I look around. Papa, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are there. Nothing else that I could see at that moment.

What else is there?

As I look, I discover a palace inside. The noisy room that I thought was inside me, is instead outside.

I begin to explore the palace. The chandeliers especially fascinate me—I’ve always liked chandeliers.

It reminds me of a dream I had once: a hidden warehouse I found behind a garbage dumpster. Racks and shelves full of ‘hidden treasure’ to be discovered.

Now I know that the garbage has been dealt with, and that this palace has been made from those materials.

No one else can go here. This is my mansion, my retreat, my paradise within.

How did I find this palace?

Presence.

I learned to abide in Christ.

I learned about the mind of Christ, how he thinks.

The mind of Christ is a calm, sound, well-balanced mind full of peace and joy.

When thoughts buzz around my head, when bad dreams bother me, I remember: those thoughts, those memories, those are not me.

The real me rejoices inside. The Trinity rejoices in me. The peace is inside. I forget about the noise and abide in Christ.

I wish I could lead you to your own internal palace. Maybe I will spend the rest of my life helping lead others to theirs.

Pioneers

Photo by Edward Virvel on Unsplash
Photo by Edward Virvel on Unsplash

One of the things I’ve been lately is lonely. Really lonely. I have plenty of friends on Facebook. In real life? Not so much. It’s been difficult!

Someone pointed out to me tonight that I am a pioneer, which is often a lonely place. Trailblazers, path-cutters, go ahead alone, with a few others at time, to make the path straight. My friend Dusty said, “Just imagine all the shit our kids won’t have to deal with religiously, because we walked this lonely path before them…even though we’re not alone…[our] Father is with [us]. Even though the work’s been done from the foundation of the Cosmos… it hasn’t been lived out… never been seen… never been watched… never been full experienced or realized… and so… we cut the path…”

I’m into mystic Christianity, meaning, among other things, that I embrace and abide in the tangible presence of God…not that I’m always consistent or good at it, mind you, but line Brother Lawrence and others before me, I work with the Holy Spirit to live in the midst of that joy that is a fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace…I want to live in all of that, all of the time. I want to be glowing with the presence of God, for others to experience God because He is inside and around me to the point where it’s obvious to everybody that something is going on. People healed in my shadow, people touched by the presence of God just because I walked in the room…that’s what I want. And that’s where we’re going, He and I, together.

Even though I’ve been lonely lately, the pioneer idea ‘clicked’ with me. I’m sure God will send others to run with, but if not, I have Him, and sometimes that’s all we need.

Take Some Time To Rest

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash
Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

I was so exhausted from religious works. The youth pastor told me, ‘Take some time and just sit in the Father’s lap.’ I asked him what he meant. He repeated himself. He didn’t seem to understand why I didn’t understand him.

At that point I had no grid for enjoying God. ‘Time in God’s presence’ was, for me, an unpleasant ‘quiet time’ in the morning, meant to equip me for whatever work he would have me do that day (usually half-hearted, misguided attempts at ‘ministry’).

I had no understanding of how to enjoy God. And it took a long time before I could do that.

It took some time getting knocked out on the floor, repeatedly, under the power of God, in revival.

It took hearing good (yet challenging) theology from people like John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn and others.

And it’s been a journey since then.

Now I can just relax in His presence. Sure, I would love to get better at not thinking about my next agenda, but I am free for him to enjoy me and for me to enjoy him without strings, without expectations, just me and the Trinity, a love fest without end.

You Can’t Escape

michael-jasmund-581395-unsplash
Photo by Michael Jasmund on Unsplash

I was grieving inside. My life over the past few days had been dominated by distraction. I wasn’t reading the Bible as I should, I wasn’t listening to worship music, I wasn’t ‘doing the stuff’ necessary for spiritual growth.

I was afraid.

Afraid of backsliding. Afraid of falling away. Afraid of going back to distractions.

I had spent five years away from grace, forgetting who I was in Christ, time away from what I knew of His Presence, wasted time focused on video games and not much else.

I didn’t want to go back.

I pleaded with God, “Lord, I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to backslide. I’m not doing the things I need to do to grow. I’m scared.”

I saw a circle around me, the Trinity. I saw myself surrounded in a love embrace. I saw myself in a dark room. When I would back away in fear, God’s presence was there.

“Beloved, you can’t get away from me. When you back away from me, you will back right into me. When you run away, you will run right into my arms. When you go, I will follow. I am always here, and will always be with you.”

I put on some worship music and just cried and cried. I was still afraid, but a little less afraid. I knew He wasn’t lying, but I was still grieved. I wasn’t in sin, but I was still worried about distraction.

I went to sleep that night still bothered. Surely God was with me, but if so, why was I having a hard time concentrating on what mattered (the Bible) and an easier time concentrating on what didn’t matter (fiction novels)?

I don’t have an answer for this yet.

What If I Wasn’t Afraid?

sammie-vasquez-549428-unsplashThis week has really had the theme of ‘perfect love casts out fear’, as my recent post mentioned. I could be a case study with regards to how God’s love ‘turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror’ (1 John 4:18 AMPC), as, for some reason, fear has been a dominating factor in my life for years and years.

Though a lot of my Big Fears have been taken care of through experience with God being faithful (fears such as dying early, or Really Bad Things happening to my kids), a lot of little niggling fears have plagued my life and stolen my joy for far too long.

Most often, the fear of man has been the ‘joy thief’. What will this person say? What did his/her facial expression mean? What does my boss think of me? Am I in danger of getting fired? Am I in trouble? The list goes on and on. You name a fear, I’ve probably dealt with it in one form or another.

Recently, Holy Spirit has been dealing with me to deal with ‘the little foxes that ruin the vineyards’ (SoS 2:15). In this case, the ‘little fears’ are what is messing up the vineyard of my heart–the Secret Place where I meet with God inside. These ‘little foxes’ distract me from the presence of God and cause me to focus on things that will never happen, or really don’t matter.

So what can be done about the little fears–not the Big Fears that keep you awake at night, but the little ones that pester you like sand gnats on the beach?

Yesterday, the question came to me,

“What if I wasn’t afraid of that?”

This clicked in my spirit.

I asked the question over and over. Someone looked at me funny: “What if I wasn’t afraid of them?” Passing people in the hall: “What if I wasn’t afraid of them?” Someone says ‘hi’ on the elevator: “What if I wasn’t afraid of them?”

And on it went.

And you know what? It’s helping. I’m realizing that I don’t have to be afraid of anything or anyone. That’s important. It helps me become more bold and less timid, something that looks great at work or anywhere.

Fearless ambassadors of Christ–that’s what the world needs.

Jesus, Inside

I sat in the prayer room for a long time, back in the Dark Days, back in the Dry Times before I understood grace.

This song, Jesus, You’re Beautiful, by Jon Thurlow, was one of the songs that I remember from those times. Recently, some friends of mine sang it during a worship session and ‘redeemed’ the song in my mind.

I know that your eyes are like flames of fire
I know that your head is white as wool
I know that your voice, it sounds like waters
Jesus, you’re beautiful

On the way home, I reflected upon the Dark Days, where I would sing songs like this and attempt to think heavenly thoughts. We were to develop ‘holy imaginations’, reflecting on passages that described God, such as in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. I don’t know if it ever worked for me. I tended to get distracted easily back then.

In the middle of my remembering, I had a conversation with Jesus that went something like this:

You know, I’m honored when you talk about my physical appearance, but I much prefer talking about me in you.

I felt the presence of God inside, a strong sense of Jesus-being-within.

I don’t mind people talking about what I look like, but it distracts from the experience of having me stand up inside them, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ It’s easy to become obsessed with seeing me in my physical form, but I want people to realize that I am right there, inside, through the Holy Spirit.

The focus changed. I still sang the song to myself, but it was no longer about a Person, distant and far away, on a Throne somewhere else in the cosmos.

It was about Christ in me, the hope of glory.