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Antigravity and Joy

26 Jun

earth beautiful 2Ever felt joy-less, depressed, overwhelmed, stressed out? (I think “Compassion Fatigue” is the new phrase.) Me too. Here’s how God unexpectedly dealt with all that, one dark night.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is a “non-sequitur” post, not specifically dealing with Spiritual Warfare, or Authority, and yet… somehow connected with those topics as I have been considering them. I have other things going on a bit, in terms of teaching or counseling, and a little bit ago I went through a bit of a personal “rough patch”. In fact, it was quite rough indeed. I don’t often share of my own frailties or struggles, except in terms of anecdotes or illustrations more or less long after the fact.

But I do have a few… accountability partners, close friends, brethren… call them what you will… close “family members” in this Kingdom Family with whom I am willing to be utterly transparent… generally because they’ve known me for so long, and seen all my warts and blemishes so clearly, that my own failures and slippages cannot possibly cause them shock or offense. I can also be so boldly honest because even when God grants some ridiculously undeserved grace to this pitiful servant, they know me far too well to mistake this for “merit” on my part.

This post is an email I sent to one of these “transparency brethren”. I shared this content with another one, and his response was, “Why don’t you put this up as a post on your blog?” I had a lot of excuses, but in the intervening days I’ve realized they were just that. So, in case you will be scandalized to know that I too can hit deep depths of “shadow attitudes” when my heart and emotions aren’t squared away with the Lord… don’t read any further. If God extending an utter miracle of grace, love and mercy to such a servant as I, tempts you to think (even in your wildest flight of imagination) that I am any more “worthy” than any other sinner-saved-by-grace on Earth… don’t read any further. There is nothing about me that “merits” the kindnesses of God that I experience. And there are none available to me, that are not showered upon every child He has.

But having said all that, and from the safety of my anonymity here on this site… I will open this to you, in a spirit of utter encouragement, worship, wonder, and gratitude that we share such a Father, Savior, and Spirit… who abound with such love and constant care.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Antigravity and Joy

Hey there, [Pastor “X”[.

Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, Happy Summer, Happy VBS & Summer Camps and all the other cool stuff you’ve been into since last I darkened your doorway!

I have a profound “interior urging” to write you today about this… which I neither understand (apparently it’s not my business), nor for which will I apologize. If these words make sense to you, accept them with my blessings. If this makes no sense at all, well, just cast them aside… with my equal blessings.

I’m going to cut through all the “backstory”, (to which you are more than welcome, let me know if you want the context)... and start this in the middle.

10 days ago, I was in deep spiritual trouble… actually, I was rather drowning in “muck”… (you know the kind… we normally flush it). Too many days, too many people, too many surprises, too many disappointments… too many shadows and shadow creatures… and I had apparently picked up an “infection”. I was sick, heart sick, soul sick. Saying things like… “What’s the point? I’ve had enough of this. This isn’t worth it, Lord.” and THINKING, though not quite saying, “I’m done. Put a fork in me. I give up, I can’t do this anymore… Gonna do something different now.”

The amazing thing was that even in the worst of it, I could see “two me’s” in that “Pauline Schizophrenia” sense… (“the good that I would do… the evil that I would not do”)… Almost like an out-of-body (or out-of-soul) experience… I could see my “wrong self” (this one… this depressed… discouraged… give it all up… self)… at the very same time as I could see my “right self” standing in Jesus as He seemingly shrugged in confusion at my despondency, saying, “We don’t do what we do for ‘payoff’, what’s the problem? What’s any of that to Me and to you, Little Monk? We do what we do because it is what we do… because it is His will, His words, His works, not because we depend on people listening. We speak the words, and let His words work… some will hear, some will not, that’s not up to us.”

I KNEW that. I had conviction on that. I had scripture on that. My WILL was conformed to that. But my heart… my heart was sinking, I felt I was sinking in this sea of “muck” and I would soon drown. All I could do was resist, continue to tread water and hold on, and endure. But all that with the dwindling strength and resolve that heralds eventual inevitable defeat.

I prayed, studied, sang, pondered, read… all of that… seeking relief. None came. I knew I was in a bad place, a dark place, I rebuked… repented… sought Him… (though He never left, and I could feel/know that)… all of that. I expected Jesus (in His own good time) to “set me straight”. I had the sense of being “unclean”, of holding myself in a place and a mindset that was out of order, of entertaining and tolerating the company of shadow spirits with whom I had no business. Yet, try as I might, I could not rid myself of this.

Why am I telling you all of this? Just so that you embrace the absolute wonder, with which God dealt with the moment, and how utterly “counter-intuitive” it all seems to my “theological/religious” mind. I was, in those evenings… Jonah… with the singular exception of my “will”. My mood, psychology, sense of hope… all that… right there with Jonah… pitiful. The only difference, I sought that my will disappear into His will, regardless how ignoble my vessel at the moment.

At the very nadir of this “pathetic-ness” I was drained, exhausted, anxious… and yet unable to sleep well. Nonetheless, exhaustion took me in the early hours…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then God took me…

The modality of my subjective prayer experience is not important, so I’ll not waste the words trying to describe the ineffable symbologies with which He communes in my own consciousness. (I’m happy to share that, if you have interest… but I find everyone’s experiences of this kind are unique and different.)

But the Father took me. (Unusual, that).

He was utterly Light, Clean, Him… and He grasped me without hesitation. (Unexpected, that.)

He had lifted me onto His hand in my mucky, stinky, filthy, exhausted, depressed state without hesitation, and drew me into the Wonder of His Heart. (Inexpressible, that.)

I lay there, too weighed down and exhausted to move, almost panting for breath through the stench in which I was drowning, and as He drew us into His heart… ALL THAT was instantly and marvelously gone. I felt as if I had been being “Pressed”… an archaic form of capital punishment by adding one stone at a time on a board on one’s body, until the ribs are crushed by the weight and breathing is no longer possible… But then suddenly, in the blink of His eye, not only was all the weight gone, but He’d breathed helium into me instead. Instead of heaviness, there was affirmative lightness.

I was revived. I was hale, whole, strong. I stood up. It was wondrous.

A thought came to me… “Duty”, and I knew a twinge of sadness, knowing I needed to return. I had an important appointment coming.

He spoke, “No. Not yet. Tarry with Me a while.”

Delightedly I obeyed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The next now, I will only summarize, without any of the imagery or symbology of the experience… but…

I had a sense of wonder, as I knew I had entered here… “out of order”. I had been in a wrong place, wrong spirit, wrong attitude… and I am accustomed to “correction” in such times, “teaching” of where I was wrong, and reinforcement of what was right.

As this thought flashed across my mind… as I was simply experiencing waves of “Joy” pouring off from Him, out from Him, I felt a bit “guilty” about that. “Ashamed”, or “unworthy”… my faith, my resolution, my grace had been eroded to paper thin-ness when He grasped me.

His response? Just one word… “Irrelevant”

WHAT?

And He just continued to fill me with “Joy”.

Um… [Pastor “X”]? Stop just one moment and find the greatest joy in your heart. Maybe moments with [your spouse], or playing with your kids, or when you first held them… Maybe a moment with Jesus… or… All of that put together. Capture in your mind/memory that incredible rush of supernatural joy that just makes us laugh and cry at the same time, when we simply need to shout out, or maybe (if we’re not TOO Baptist… even… “dance” for a moment). Now just ramp all that up to the absolute red-line of the meter, and beyond…

And you have a sense of what those next seconds-minutes-hours (who knows) were like, as He held me in His heart. “Ecstasy” is a fancy theology word I’ve never been real happy with, but sometimes (like now), it actually fits.

Jesus came, and joined in. The Holy Spirit came, and joined in. And we all “rejoiced”… sang, danced, played, flew, um… nvm…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now here’s why I’m writing this… actually I’ll paste in this last section from my notes on this event…

But then, it wound down in “activity”, though not at all in “mood”. There we all were, the Four of us… as if sitting on a picnic blanket in sheer contentment on a warm Spring day. And yet… this was the midst of the Father’s heart, and the monk could look outwards and see with His eyes of sheer love.

Again… the word came… “Duty”… and the monk knew they had to return. But didn’t want  to… and yet did want to, if that was their duty. Yet even that thought didn’t bring sadness. It was as if the joy were a furnace of its own. There was the awareness that the monk didn’t want to go back, but there was no feeling of revulsion or resistance about it.

The Father spoke again… “It is time to return. You must go back.”

Little Monk said, “I know. And I shall, though You know I would rather stay.”

“I know, but it is not yet time. You can come, whenever you choose. But understand… THIS is REAL! THIS is what it is to be here, to be with ME, to let Me be Me in you. THIS is what I have ever intended for Life to be! No guilt. No grief. No darkness. No despair. None of that. All that is shadow-stuff… optical illusion generated by embracing the lies of those who want you separate from Me.

“I need you to go back, because I need you to keep telling them, keep showing them, keep loving them, that THIS is Me! They see it in you, at least some do. I need you to bring more Here… that I may play with them, sing to them, dance with them, and hug away their fears and shames. You will keep this Joy… it will protect you. And you need to share it there, with those who cannot see or feel it. When they are ready… bring them Here. Bring as many Here as you can, as soon as they are willing to trust that I desire only their Live, Wholeness, Good…

“You must go back, for so few know Me as “He who brings Life through Love”… so many fear Me instead… My Son will help. Our Spirit will reach through you… We need you to go back, Little Monk… though it will not be forever. And you can come here, rest, dance, renew, sing… whenever you need. I can protect you this way now. You have discovered this part of My Name… Joy.”

“Yes, Father.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And this has changed me a great deal.

What if the Father’s Name could be expressed, “Joy Who Gives Life Through Love”?

What if “in Jesus’ Name” wasn’t the “abracadabra” added on to the “white magic spells” of prayer according to the “white magic grimoire” of the Holy Bible… but rather what if Jesus’ Name were “God With Us” — the perfect reflection of God the Father, as Word Made Flesh and so able to enter in to our own spatio-temporal dimension?

What if the “Beatitudes” as expressed in Sermon on the Mount were better translated “Joyful are the poor… Joyful the meek…” etc.

What if Jesus intended the Church to be His Bride? And reasonably expected that that would fill us with Joy, not Dread?

If so, why are so many churches and churchmen filled with fear, and guilt, and shame, and dread? Why do so many spend so much time finger-pointing and accusing… when Accuser is the name of God’s enemy, not His Bride?

What if χαρά (chara) (as in “joy of your master” Matt 25:21) were inextricably linked with χάρις (charis) (as in “grace upon grace” Jn 1:16)? (oops… they ARE… we’re just not at all comfortable with that in English theology.)

What if “grace” and “gift” and “spiritual gifts” and all that… were ongoing expressions of the Father’s very PULSE as “Joy”… and humanity (and religion) simply shrink from the possibility?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All these things have flowed through me for the past 10 days.

Don’t read me as denigrating or belittling speaking truth with grace, or conviction, or repentance, or regeneration. I think from “our side of the veil”, subject to the distortions and “glass darkly” of “original sin” and our subjectivity to temptation, error, and illusion… yes, those are all necessary tools.

BUT… I am now equally convicted and convinced, that those are tools and vehicles meant truly to get us “elsewhere”… that we come to KNOW Him in His preferred name… as Joy, and God of Hope.

There are few with whom I can share so “irreverent” a thought without causing offense. I trust I have not offended… I pray so. But I know you know this God, this God of Joy… for the very first time I ever heard you preach I was utterly stunned by a single line you intoned. You said,

“We don’t seek the Kingdom of God because it’s our duty. We seek the Kingdom because it is our JOY!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, receive this email as encouragement, as a prayer request, as a praise of Him, as a testimony of sheer wonder…

But above all, THANK YOU for persisting in “lifting Him up that He may draw all men to Him”… and pointing consistently at the Joy of this Family and Kingdom, rather than threatening with the fear, guilt, and accusation of threats for ticking Him off.

Here’s what’s becoming one of my favorite verses:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Blessings and grace to you and all yours!!

The Little Monk

 
19 Comments

Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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19 responses to “Antigravity and Joy

  1. Sang

    June 26, 2015 at 1:44 PM

    Dear Little Monk- “No guilt. No grief. No darkness. No despair. None of that.” This one quote is my take away from your blog today! This not only answers my unasked questions but gives me the confidence that no matter how much I goof up- I am my Father’s child. There are times I just vow not to do/ say certain thing but right go into and do just that. I don’t know if that is my frailty to control my emotions or do I no self control. I just live by His Grace and Blessing every second. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Little Monk

      June 26, 2015 at 1:51 PM

      “I just live by His Grace and Blessing every second.”

      Amd there is the ultimate wisdom, and point of it all! Thank you.

      Grace — LM

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  2. Don Merritt

    June 26, 2015 at 2:08 PM

    It is the greatest of all blessings to find one’s self in the very presence of God; face to face with Him. Surely it is the greatest joy and the strongest of encouragements! Blessed indeed you are little Monk!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Little Monk

      June 26, 2015 at 3:02 PM

      All that you say is true, Don.

      But I’m also intensely aware, that it’s my very WEAKNESS in faith… His willingness to rescue me from my own frailties… that moved (moves) Him to save me in such moments. He’s just so incredibly kind and faithful, despite myself.

      Your words prompted an echo in my mind… “you see and now you believe. Blessed are those who do not see, and yet believe.” (I think it was Jesus teaching Thomas. I’m not quite Doubting Thomas, but I do know that this testimony is precisely that… simply a testimony to His kindness… not a “brag” as to my merit or worthiness. Therein lies my greatest reticence to sharing such events. (He has to rescue me from myself amazingly often. Lol))

      Thank you, ever, for walking along with me. 🙂

      Grace — LM

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. STRAIGHT TO THE TOP!

    June 26, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    WOW! That is all I can say, WOW!

    Like

     
  4. Susan Irene Fox

    June 27, 2015 at 4:14 PM

    OH – how utterly lovely this is, and thank you for your willingness to share your vulnerability and His grace. It’s times like these we simply must share; your words express so much hope. It’s not often I feel joy. I felt it here. I feel it when He takes my hand.Those divine interventions are nothing less than heart-to-heart communications. So special.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Little Monk

      June 27, 2015 at 4:54 PM

      Thank you, Susan. Needless to say, I’m still “processing” a bit. And everything you say is true.

      But you know what frustrates me, about my own inability to “speak clearly”? You know how we all look at such things and that word “special”, as in “rare and unexpected” just leaps to mind?

      Well, perhaps the single “statement”, the single “utterance” of His that had the greatest impact on me, filled me with the greatest wonder… was the urgency of His desire to be heard that THIS is what He considers “normal”… “baseline”… “routine”. WE have concepts like “mundane” versus “special”… but His heart, His desire, and what He makes available with every heartbeat… is THIS, this joy, this closeness, this care and intimacy.

      I’ll speak just for myself here, but His challenge to me was that I realize that this is always there in all His fullness, and it is only my own doubts or frictions that diminish the experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, we live in a world that requires attention to others and relationships… but that wasn’t what He meant. He didn’t mean I was to “withdraw” into a perpetual state of contemplative meditation to access this… but rather that He was… was… (ugh… words… my limitation in words! *sigh*)... He was “installing a furnace of His presence and joy” INSIDE me, that I could take with me, out into all those moments, relationships, “in the world”… without losing any of it. Of course, when there is/was need to “go apart” and renew… then that would be available, too.

      THIS is the piece I’m not yet satisfied that I’ve expressed clearly. This is the part that keeps me saying… “It’s not that I am special, or anything available to me that’s not open to all.” Because that is really important. It was all so clear, that like “floating on water”… this “floating on Him” was also a matter of “relaxing” into the reality that He can and does utterly support us in the webbing of His love, just as surely and reliably as water in a pool can support us in the webbing of its molecular bonds.

      Amazingly, I know that I myself will “forget” from time to time. I shall neglect Him. I shall feel myself sinking again at some point in the future. (I have a long history of my own frailty, lol.) But nonetheless, there’s not a reader on this page, who is not held in just this way in His heart, who is not just as nuzzled, treasured, nurtured, and upheld in the passion of His love, or who He does not urgently and desperately seek to share the awareness of that experience with. Just as any and every loving parent DELIGHTS in the laughter and contact of joyful play and companionship with their children… so does He. That this is the passion, the desire, the hunger for our equal delight and presence, that drove and motivated Jesus in the Incarnation. THIS is the reason for the Redemption and our salvation.

      His heart is/was not just to “scoop us out of the sea of darkness… to deposit us, wilted on some shore of a Salvation Refugee Camp”. No… He is the Father of the Two Sons…(the Prodigal and the Self-Righteous). He is the Father who “Sees from Afar and Runs to Him Who was Dead and is Now Alive”!

      Imagine that, if we can… God the Father runs… gleefully delighted… at His children. We were once dead, and now we live. How strong a hug would that generate? If your child were resuscitated from death to life? What would that feel like? Well that’s just the barest fraction, of the Father’s heart… towards ALL who will let Him.

      Anyway, sorry… I get carried away.

      But thanks again for your comment. I love when my halting words can prompt others in love and worship!

      Grace to you!

      Little Monk

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      • Susan Irene Fox

        June 27, 2015 at 5:07 PM

        Please don’t ever apologize for your carried-awayness. Your words bring tears of joy to my heart. “…just as nuzzled, treasured, nurtured, and upheld in the passion of His love, or who He does not urgently and desperately seek to share the awareness of that experience with.” This is about as lovely and articulate a way of expressing how He loves us as I have ever read.
        And yes, if we could only hold onto it every moment of every day. Alas, we are humans and life (%*#@) happens. Thankfully, in His grace and love, He never hesitates to reach for us when we become too earth- or self-focused, as you have so beautifully shared here.
        Hugs to you, LM. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • Little Monk

          June 27, 2015 at 5:10 PM

          *smiles* Thank you for your patience and your kind words. (Lol, particularly the hugs! They’re the best!)

          Joy to you — LM

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  5. paulfg

    July 1, 2015 at 2:03 AM

    Dearest LM, reading your words here, reading Don’s words, my own, others – this community is “food”, real food, real feeding. I have never experienced God as you describe here, nor do I feel I am missing out.

    What I am left with is an indescribable joy that you have – and that you shared that you have. It allows my God to become bigger, more real, more joyful – it allows me to be come more open to connecting more fully with my God. You allow me!

    Thank you!
    ((hugs))

    Liked by 2 people

     
  6. paulfg

    July 1, 2015 at 2:08 AM

    Reblogged this on Just me being curious and commented:
    Surviving or Thriving …

    50-100 people in my “church” have never shared something like this. Most would look at me oddly if I shared something like this. But in the quiet of my own home, with just my God and me … ?

    This community feeds, provides food, shares food, shares Love, shares “thriving”. Let’s not just survive – let’s all THRIVE!! 🙂

    Like

     
  7. Julie Harris

    July 1, 2015 at 7:38 AM

    So moving and beautiful… found myself tearing up as I read your words… “We don’t seek the Kingdom of God because it’s our duty. We seek the Kingdom because it is our JOY!” -Amen! Thank you for sharing this today… blessings to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Little Monk

      July 1, 2015 at 8:15 AM

      Thank you, Julie! 🙂

      And just… credit where credit is due… I wish I could say that the line… “We don’t seek the Kingdom of God because it is our duty. We seek the Kingdom because it is our JOY!” was mine. Delightfully, that is a quote from a sermon preached by the brother I was sending this email to. That’s how I knew he would “get it”, and not just write me off as a looney! lol

      Grace — LM

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Julie Harris

        July 1, 2015 at 8:23 AM

        The JOY of the Lord is my strength! You know- there’s probably nothing said that hasn’t been said before… and I thank you for allowing God to use you to say it again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • Little Monk

          July 1, 2015 at 8:40 AM

          I so agree, I say nothing new… but somehow it seems He can always SHOW it to me in some new and marvelous way! Ain’t He somethin’? Anyway, I want to show you something that echoed yesterday. This whole “Joy” thing keeps bouncing around in my head like the peal of a bell. And “Rejoice in the Lord always…” kept echoing. So I went and looked it up… to find:

          “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” [Philippians 4:4-9]

          And I realized…. isn’t this everything we ever WANT? Joy? Knowing His closeness? Security for our provision and freedom from worry, want, anxiety? and PEACE? Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of spirit? For that peace to so surround us that our hearts are “guarded”? For our minds to be filled with the good, the pure, the lovely? Do what Paul does, do what he is saying here, and the God of peace will be with us. Isn’t that amazing?

          It starts with Joy, ends with peace… which he repeats twice.

          I’d never seen that before.

          Grace and peace to you… in all joy! — LM

          Liked by 2 people

           
          • Julie Harris

            July 1, 2015 at 8:44 AM

            Yes! Yes! Yes! He is amazing 🙂 on a side note…we are having a couple come for dinner in a few days and she called me yesterday to see if she could bring a visiting friend with her to our home…and her friend’s name- Joy! Isn’t God the coolest!?

            Liked by 1 person

             
            • Little Monk

              July 1, 2015 at 8:45 AM

              This made me laugh out loud! 🙂 You’ll need to tell her we’ve been writing about her when she comes! Lol — LM

              Liked by 1 person

               
  8. Bette Cox

    July 5, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    Thinking about you, praying for you, glad for you, LM. Rejoice – jump, twirl around, dance, make merry, all parts of the meaning of that wonderful word. God rejoices over his children, he sings over (and to) his children, he is joyful / in / through / for / because of / in spite of… very good reasons for us to do the same. Can you visualize such an awesome dance partner?!

    Liked by 1 person

     

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