Deep in the darkness of early morning, long before my alarm went off, The Lord called my name and woke me. This was unusual in these days. Sometimes, in certain seasons, He teaches this way frequently, but on this occasion it had been quite a while. I was awake, but could sense the darkness about me, yet there was clarity. The Lord had called my name and said, “Wake up, now.”
I lay still in my bed and He spoke again, “Open your eyes…”
So I did… I think…
For when I seemingly opened my eyes I did not see my bedroom, my covers, the darkness that I knew surrounded me. I was… in Jesus. HIS eyes opened with my own. Now, this has happened to me on rare occasions before, but always at such moments, we were in MY body, in THIS world. It was Him in me, as we walked the earth. THIS time however, was entirely different… I was in HIS body, in HIS world, in HIS earthly time. Very strange.
Even stranger the grace He granted, I was IN HIM, and we were hanging on the Cross. Gradually but rapidly, He seemed to meld me entirely into Him, as not only did we look up at our surroundings, but I came to feel through His senses entirely. I assure you, Gentle Reader, never before have I had such a prayer experience… and you are welcome to accept or reject this testimony as you feel led. I simply recount it to you.
We looked up, raised our head, and I could see and hear the multitudes of the crowd jeering, cursing, blaspheming Him. I could feel the pain, the dripping of blood from head, hands, back. Face and eyes were swollen from blows. Mouth was dry from dehydration and the intensifying struggle simply to breathe. Not gonna get real graphic here with descriptions, but trust me… the experience was thoroughly so. But fairly soon, all the sensations seemed to blur into awareness of just what I could see and hear, and the struggle to breathe.
Each breath was a massive effort, demanding chest, shoulders, head and arms. But His gaze never wavered as He simply watched the crowds mobbing a short distance away. But what He FELT for them… THAT was the amazing part. He simply, totally, and completely… LOVED THEM. Ears could hear the jeers and insults, eyes could see the spitting, the screaming, the garbage flung at Him… yes. But all HE saw was “His children”. All He felt was grief at their actions, and the unspeakable yearning of His heart to gather them together in His arms, love them, and protect them.
It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt… the profound depths of that LOVE. It just seemed to grow. So hard to describe, Gentle Reader… By any chance, are you a parent or a grandparent? Do you know that feeling when sometimes you look at your child or grandchildren and you just LOVE them SO MUCH? Like you wish you could just scoop them up in your arms, like when they were really little, and just hug them hugely? Remember that feeling that seemed to touch you once in a while looking at them, where the love in your chest was just so pointed it almost hurt? That’s what this was like.
And watch this… it GREW… it just grew in waves, moment by moment. I’ve never felt the like, except in grief. I’ve sometimes known loss so deep that grief could come unexpectedly, and wash over me and through me like the waves of an incoming tide. But here, this was happening with love and tenderness and compassion itself! And His tears flowed over them, this totally notwithstanding that His beloveds were ranting out there cursing, screaming and reviling.
It made no sense… none at all.
But here is the most incredible part… as this all unfolded on Calvary… in the darkness of my room. This love just kept growing and growing as all the pain just faded into a dull background against the sharp relief of struggling for each rasping, rattling breath. The seconds just seemed to tick away into eternity, as I had to focus just on breathing, ever more shallowly, then the climax…
One deep breath, as His eyes filled with tears and He looked up into the dark sky towards the Father He could no longer feel, but yet believed by faith alone was there and present. He took that struggling breath, held those reviling crowds tenderly in His heart as He lifted them towards the Father and His love, and rasped out… “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
And, deep within ourselves, we knew somehow, beyond any doubt… the Father heard His prayer… He received it… and… the Father… GRANTED… it.
Then, it was finished. With that forgiveness, it was all finished. And there was the blessed peace and oblivion of death. There was no more pain, and all was still.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And that was it, I “awoke” so to speak, face covered with tears as yet I wept. All physical pain was gone, but the heart… no. That heart remained, the love remained, the tremendous sense of desire to gather one’s chicks up beneath one’s wings, to protect, to nurture, to cover. It’s very hard to say what was the most intense residuum here. The relief at being able to breathe? Yes. The intensity of the entire event itself? Yes. The sheer wonder at Jesus’ willingness (and capacity) to share such a moment, such an insight, with someone as totally unprepared, ill equipped, as I? Yes. All of that.
But as I lay there, utterly at a loss… as I just yet wept with the overpowering intensity of His Presence in these moments…
I gasped, “Lord… thank you… but… what WAS that? What is going on?”
Ever so gently, ever so tenderly, He said, “You needed to see that. You needed to be there. You needed that for tonight…” (an unexpectedly tough and hurtful meeting I was going to take part in). I was utterly astonished, had forgotten the meeting was THIS day, and wasn’t thinking much about it at all.
He went on, “You will hear things that will hurt. You will be confused, and people will attack one another, shouting and reviling. This would have caused you great pain. But NOW, you must see and understand. People’s words, their taunts, their names, their accusations… can only hurt you if you let them enter into you. They can only pierce you if you regard them and allow them into your heart. You must not do that. You must not embrace those words.
“Little One, you have now seen My children as I see them. You have felt My heart for them and towards them. No matter what they scream, or spit, or throw… I tenderly love, I forgive, and I seek to shelter them in My arms and heart.
“Having seen what I Myself mean by ‘forgive’… having seen how I Myself deal with ‘offense’… what can YOU POSSIBLY see, or hear, or read, that can cause you offense? Never again, will you ever look upon anyone, doing anything, but with this love and compassion. And never again, will you respond to anything at all but with forgiveness, grace, and blessing.
“If an accusation is true and of light, you bring it to Me and through repentance and contrition you are renewed, transformed, blessed and you grow. If an accusation is false and of darkness or shadow, you bring it to Me and I reveal it to be nothing but falsehood, illusion of the enemy, and it cannot touch you or your heart. Never again, are you to subject yourself to the pain of an illusion…
“Never again, take ‘offense’ at anything at all… No more shadow pain. Ever.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gentle Reader, I cannot explain this so I’ll not try… but so it has been. Not only did The Lord equip to pass through a difficult meeting and a tumultuous time, but later of course I saw how this applied to so many things.
And, wonder of wonders, no more pain, ache, or grief at the accusations of friends! It has been utterly amazing! I didn’t even see the application when it first happened, as the business at hand was intense and absorbing.
But from that time to this, NOTHING has “offended me”, and I kid thee not when I say, I had no idea how offended I WOULD get, DID get, until I stopped doing it. So much pain, grief, ache, just totally gone!
Here’s this incredible, amazing gift… it took all of 10 minutes. I want to pass it along to you! Consider this a “prayer experiment”… Please, try this.
(1) Pick a quiet place and time, where you’ll not be disturbed for 20 minutes or so…
(2) Review (mentally or reading over), those last moments of Jesus on Golgotha…
(3) Apply your “sacred imagination” to the moment and scene: hear the shouts, envision the action…
(4) Ask The Lord for His grace, to bring you for the moment to the fullness of His promise, that He be in you, as you in Him… and rest in Him…
(5) Stay still for 10 minutes, remaining utterly focused on Him, allowing Him to draw you to seeing His children as He sees them, and allowing you to feel the passion of His forgiveness and loving heart for them…
Just stay there, resting in that, letting Him soak you and your heart in that… for 10 whole minutes. Reflect on what He subjected Himself to, only to forgive them and love them. Then ask yourself what you, or I, or any of us… can POSSIBLY endure to even come CLOSE to that!
After these 10 minutes, as you recover, ask yourself… if THAT’s how the Christ in you forgives…. if THAT’s how the Holy Spirit indwelling your heart loves and embraces those who accuse and revile… can any of us possibly do otherwise?
That’s what God asked me. “If THAT’s how I love and forgive… can you ever again be ‘offended’ by anything at all that anyone does or says to or of you?”
“No, Lord. All good here, Thanks.”
Can’t tell you the impact those 10 minutes have had on my life since. Just wanted to pass the Gift along to you, Gentle Reader!
Grace to you!