Tag Archives: Love

Father: Unknown

If you had been there,

In the shadowland of childbirth

between life and death,

Holding her hand through the blood and the tears

As she brought forth your seed-

Would you have stayed?

If you had gazed a little longer

Into the innocent slate of my soul

When you finally did come ‘round

To count fingers and toes-

Would it have moved you?

Would you have given me your name?

If I had wrapped my fingers around your thumb

And smiled…

Your smile, slightly crooked, and crooning

Would you have taught me your songs?

Would you have made room for me on your knee?

With the others?

I found you too late.

Too late to ask you face to face.

To gaze into your eyes to see my own,

To hear your voice

To understand my place in your life.

Would you have told me the truth?

If I had found you,

Just a little sooner-

Would I know the smell of your cologne-?

The weight of your walk,

The sound of your voice?

Was your favorite color green?

Did you dream of Ireland?

Did you dream?

I think you would have liked me

Loved me even.

If only we’d been given the chance to try.

If only.

Father Unknown is what it says on my Birth Certificate,

Next to two tiny inked foot prints

And the name of the man who wielded forceps

ripping me from the womb.

She was too proud to be unwanted,

She thought she could be enough

For the both of us.

She tried.

But the siren song of belonging

Pulled me to the cliffs

Desperate for the sight of you.

Always on the horizon of my questions,

My penny fountain wish-

If only I could reach you.

You were lost to me.

Lost until spit in a jar and  DNA code

Became the lighthouse.

When I least expected it,

When life was barely breathable and all was lost

When the foundation was smoldering

And the roots exposed,

She found me.

This sister of blood and pain

Led me to the cliff walls

Tracing for me the hieroglyphics of your presence,

Teaching me you.

In her smile, in his voice, in their laughter.

The family you left behind is my inheritance-

Maybe it is better this way.

You left me the best of you.

A treasury of discovery

As I look for you, in them,

You, in me,

As I look, I find I am a little less lost

A little less undone.

As I look at them,

I am finding you.

©Christina Dammerman 2017

 

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Burning Boxes

Mar 8:37  

For what can a man give in return for his soul?

Yesterday we burned the past.  Box after box was hauled from the back porch to the burn pile.   Boxes we had crated and stored with every move we have made.  Boxes of lives we were a part of, dreams we helped build. Boxes of stories.

The Gardener and I gazed through the smoke reading the bittersweet expressions on each other’s faces as years of our lives and hundreds of thousands of hours were emptied onto the flames.  Bittersweet.  Bitter because of the demands our business put on our relationship, our parenting, our friendships.  Bitter because of the chasing of fame, and fortune which consumed so many of our days now reduced to dust.  Bitter the reality of poor choices made, compromises considered, risks taken so costly.   Bitter the yearning for opulence and the clanging of coins in the purse.

Yet, sweet in a melancholy sort of way. Sweet the way hearts were turned into homes.  Sweet the talents and gifts of skilled hands, loyal laborers, artisan craftsman.  Sweet the way we helped a community to prosper and flourish and change.  Sweet the strength of vision and the longing for place.  It was just the wrong place.

As I sat under the candlelight of the evenings Lent service, the words of Mark 7 echoed through me.  I realized there is nothing I would give, no treasure that would tempt me from this place of soul.  There was nothing this world could offer me to trade for this new Shalom.  Though I am poorer in state than in the days of the boxes, I am richer in presence.  Richer in love. Richer in peace and vision.  I have pulled up the stake, and followed hard after the lover of my soul.  I do not long for the boxed life.  The life that was eaten by strangers, and given to other people’s children in the worship of culture, and power, and greed.  I long for my soul to be broken bread and poured out wine in the ministry of life-the life of Christ.

The boxes are still smoldering tonight.  It seems the boxed life does not die easily.  I think I will go stir the pile and resurrect the flame.  I think I will smile at the edge of the ashes.  Smile at the choice to not trade the freedom of living this God breathed authentic moment for any gilded box of earthly treasure.

You oh Lord are the anchor of my soul.  In you I delight.  In you I will never be put to shame.  Hold me close to your heart in these days to the cross.  Hold me as I gaze upon your choice and love you in the midst of suffering.

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Psalm Of The Branch

He said-

 “I am the true vine,

and my Father is the vinedresser”.

She Said-

Hear my cry to understand the dressing of the vine.

The Son who through obedience learned-

“Your will Father, never mine!”

He said-

” Every branch in me

that does not bear fruit

he takes away, and every branch

that does bear fruit he prunes,

that it may bear more fruit. ” 

She Said-

Hear the heart that yearns toward fruit

Teach me the way to drink from the root.

I am the branch, you are the vine

I am the cup  you are the wine.

He said-

 “Abide in me, and I in you.

As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,

unless it abides in the vine,

neither can you,

unless you abide in me.”

She Said-

Hold me fast to your flaming heart

Bind me close, that I depart

never from your living side

Always, ever to abide.

 

-Christina Dammerman (c) 2014

*John 15:1-4 ESV

vines bordeaux

 

“IF”

  “If

you love me,

you will keep

my commandments .

John 14:15 

Obedience is  agape proof. Love unto death proof.   Proof of a life dug down deep not living in shallows.  Proof of a stake driven straight painted blaze orange.  Here.  Here I am in the life of the ONE I love who holds all things.  Obedience is in the keeping.  The keeping close, holding tight, breathing after the heart of God.  

Obedience is knowing.  The way a kayaker knows the face of a river, which currents will take you through, which will smash you bloody and lifeless on the rocks. Obedience is knowing the path that is narrow when there is no light at midnight and souls are following you.  Knowing the way his steps feel to your bare feet resting in the imprints.

Obedience is choice.  Choice in the place I fix the gaze of my eyes- the gates of my soul.  I become what I behold.  I choose what I see.  How I see. Obedience is watching.  Expectant like the dawn birds for the first ray, coaxing the sunlight with hope.  Watching for him in the room.  Asking what he is accomplishing in the lives before me, and partnering with his actions in love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

Calvary love compels me to obey. When I gaze upon the loving well, and to the end, through the piercing, stripes and thorns, I see the battle against the greatest enemy, and my terror conquered on my behalf.  When I see, I know how he loved me-agape way-unto death.  Through death, out of death and into life. Life that leaped into me at my “yes I believe”. Life that lives to die to my will, and glorify the Father. Life that lives to abide.

“As I have loved you” -love laid down in a life offered freely. Not robbed, not demanded, not wasted-offered. Choice, obedience, faith.  If I obey, I love.

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Bondslave

 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:3-5 ESV

Throughout this journey I have been struck with the posture our Lord takes as he leads his beloved disciples.  He is confident, present, and alert to the slightest whisper of the Father’s voice.  Here now, on the eve of his Passion, when he could have been consumed by a thousand other things, he has love on his mind.  

Spurgeon said it best when describing this night:  “The Father had given all things into His hands.” You might suppose that He would stand up, in a very dignified manner, and put on a purple robe and a golden belt, but, instead of that, He rose from the supper table, laid aside His garments, and took a towel, and girded Himself. He knew that He had come forth from God and that He was going back to God—and He performed this action on the way home to His Father. O dear Brothers and Sisters, if Christ thus stooped, how humble ought we to be! No office should be counted too lowly, no work for His servants should seem to be too humiliating, since Jesus “took a towel and girded Himself.”

The saying goes that in the light of a man’s departure, you can tell what really ruled him.  Here, knowing that he had come from God was returning to God, and that all things were in his hands Jesus humbles himself and in his own extravagant outpouring of love washes his beloved friends feet.  No fear, no remorseful regrets, no frantic last minute lessons, just love and simple devotion.

He is about to face the greatest agony of his soul, where all will betray him and he will be left alone to face his accusers.  We find no aloofness, no separation of his heart from theirs.  Oh how he loved.  How he took such care with the souls entrusted to him. How he still cares!  I gaze at the passage and am amazed at how he not only washed but he wiped.  He finished the work.  Jesus puts Himself in the place of a slave and He performs a slave’s duty tenderly wiping the water from their feet, not leaving the work undone.

I stand at the basin Lord.  Wash me, and I will be clean.  Let me have a portion in you.

jesus-washing-disciples-feet-by-takla

For The Sake Of A Kiss

With the fragrance of oil still in the air, clinging to his beard, perhaps even upon his garments-

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.  And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:10-11

I come to this passage of scripture with more questions than I have answers.  I am wrestling inside with what feels all too familiar and yet remains slippery and evasive.  I am afraid there is  Judas in me. A clanging of silver desire to build my own empire, my way.  A purse swollen with too much of my own understanding of how the Kingdom of God is to come, now-in me.  I gaze at the ledger of my words and wonder at the zealous pronouncements coming from a heart that is far too distant from the all consuming flame.

Pro 26:23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.

That is, ardent professions of friendship from a wicked heart, however smooth, shining, and splendid they may appear, are like a vile vessel covered over with base metal. -Vines Word Study

Even so, regardless of,  Jesus called Judas Friend

  And he came up to Jesus at once and said,

“Greetings, Rabbi!”

And he kissed him.
  Jesus said to him,

“Friend, do what you came to do.”

Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. Mathew 26:49-50

Before he started his ministry Jesus went up to a lonely place and prayed all night for those that the Father would give him, all of them, even Judas.  Our Rabbi doesn’t ask us to do what he hasn’t done:  Pray for your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to  the ones who will use you spitefully.  I reflect upon my own gathering of leaders and ache with the realization that  far too often I have assembled teams based on personality profiles, and gift mixes rather than the direct counsel of the Spirit of God gleaned from an all night prayer meeting.

Would I choose a betrayer knowing it would further the plans and destiny of God in my life?  Even if I could choose that one, would I love them?  Would I give everything I had in me to them?  Would I pour out my life an offering for them?  Would I wash their feet? Do I trust God’s work in my life, as HIS LIFE, to surround me with the people of His choosing and leave the working of the relationship in His hands to mold, and do with as He please?

The answer echoes clear and final.  No.  I fear being betrayed.   I guard against it.  I have made it a point of counsel in my leading of others, preaching the necessity of : “guarding their hearts”.  I find upon examination, that I have stayed on the fringe of community where it is safer and easier to remain unscathed. Yet, when I examine the life of the one I say I follow, this rule of ministry, and principle of effective leadership isn’t there.

He didn’t withhold affection, correction, counsel, anointing or presence. There is no evidence that he treated Judas any different than the others.  He gave Judas the gift of Himself as much as any of the number who surrounded him desired to receive.  It seems to be Judas’s choice of proximity in the fellowship of the twelve.  Even as it is my choice how close do I want to be?  On the fringe, coming in late because I am busy building my empire?  Or leaning upon His breast asking Him to examine my heart for signs of unfaithfulness…”Is it me, Lord?”

It is fascinating to me that only after the betrayer is identified as one who shared His bread, and told to accomplish what is in his heart quickly, that Jesus gives the terms of the New Covenant to the rest of the community:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

I am His, IF I love. Love even those that bite and wound and maim and in spite of them . I feel His gaze upon me as I sit with the eleven. My eyes staring at the place Judas occupied at the table.

Do you love me? Then love them, as I have loved you.  As I have shown you how to give yourself without reservation even to those who hate you.  Your life is not your own.  It is mine. I paid for it.  I give my life a ransom for many.  YOU, give your life even to those who hate you for my name sake.  In the end, the love of many will wax cold, and they will betray and deliver one another up to be killed…but you….YOU love. Keep on loving, to the end. Follow me and die to yourself. Die to your rights, your justifications, your protective strategies that keep you from getting hurt. Leave them. Abandon them, they will only hurt your relationship with me in the end. Stay close to the flame and learn to burn with truth in the inner most part of your being.  Truth that I have loved you, as the Father has loved me.

 

The-Judas-Crisis

Alabaster Life

Preaching without spiritual aroma is like a rose without fragrance.  We can only get the perfume by getting more of Christ. –A.B.Simpson

 

The devotional today is centered around a moment of pure worship, as Mary breaks the alabaster jar of her inheritance, and “wastes” it in one movement of extravagant, lavish affection. For this great act she is not lauded by the populace, she is despised and ridiculed.  All opinions in regards to her actions seem to be in agreement, except for one. The only One who really matters.

Jesus, the great Rabbi and benefactor of her affection demands she be left alone, and declares something truly radical- that the fullness of the gospel is not proclaimed unless her story is told right along with the Good News of Chris’ts birth, life, crucifixion,  burial, and resurrection.  Yet, how often have you heard her story?  Really heard her story?

Mar 14:6-9 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” ESV

I have wondered at the house of Bethany, the place where Jesus could be “himself”.  The place he frequented more than any other, the place of his friends.  Bethany means date house, or house of figs.  This rings of the symbolism of the nation of Israel which is often called a fig tree.  Perhaps here, he envisioned the true Israel.  A house of welcome for the Messiah, a place of friendship and easy graces. Laughter and study, and food.  True food.

The nation was turning it’s back upon him. Would declare him accursed and deliver him up in a short while, but here, here he was among friends and in that place a woman believed what the others had refused to hear.  He is going to die.  They are going to kill him. In that revelation, she longed to show kindness to him while he was still in her midst, and to give him everything she had, everything she could.  Her love as perfume filled the house where they were sitting and everyone was marked by the fragrance of her devotion, and the declaration of his death-and it made them mad!

Grumblings were heard, eyes were rolled, costs were tallied, some perhaps covered their nose to get away from the smell.  Judas felt his pockets tingle with the loss of such revenue, and they did what most do when they are uncomfortable with someones “over the top devotion”, they accuse her motives.

“Look at how selfish she was, that could have fed a whole village of lepers for a month! Such a shameful waste, such a loss!  Look at it there on the ground…they will never get the smell out of this house!”

Perhaps, that is what she wanted.  To never have the smell leave.  To step into the room and instantly remember where he sat, how he smiled, the words he spoke.  Smell is the greatest trigger of memory, and this moment would forever remind her of her love. It would remind him as well.

I can imagine the beautiful Son of God closing his eyes as the fragrance slowly rolled down his hair, the sides of his beard, onto his shoulders, to his hands, his feet.  Drenching his robe.  Was he in that moment remembering the fragrance of Heaven?  Did he feel the love of his Father in her actions, remember the glory he laid aside, and would take up again?  Did his heart fill with joy at the recognition of this little Eve, this little girl in the garden with her eyes open to the Tree of Life, choosing him, choosing love, choosing to worship in spirit and truth. Doing what she could with what she had?  Did he remember his words to the serpent, and his promise to the woman and know that at this moment enmity was at work, and the battle was raging towards the cross?

Leonard Sweet in his book:  Jesus:  A Theography, mentions this story and makes the statement that Jesus came into this world smelling stable dung and straw but left it smelling perfume.  The fragrance of that oil would have stayed with him through the long night in the garden, through the beating, the crown of thorns, the lashes, the crucifixion.  The aroma of love would still be on him, mingling with his sweat, his tears and his blood.

The question was asked:  “When have you allowed your love and devotion to Jesus to let you do things that other people wouldn’t understand, and might ridicule?  All for the love of Jesus?!”

I close my eyes and remember the fragrance of my devotion, the times when I have abandoned my heart to Him this way.  Intimate times when I have poured out my tears, and my words in longing love.  Delightful moments when I have whirled with childlike abandon in meadows of camas, and weak, humble times when I have lain prostrate before Him.

I remember the sweetness of just wanting to sit at His feet, know the tenderness of His love, hear Him speak to my heart in familiar tones, to just say my name and say his back to Him.  I have been ridiculed, and pushed away, corrected, and chastised for the way my heart is at times lavish in its expression.  It is this story that reminds me of my inheritance.  It will not be taken from me.  He receives my love even if others question my motive.  I remind myself when I find the stiff gazes of the cold religious fixed upon my face, that He is my audience of One.  I live for Him alone, unto Him alone.

My prayer oh Lord is that you break me open and pour me out. That, the devotion of my life would be lavished upon you as oil.  That you would remember me as the joy set before you as you delight in the fragrance of my worship.  Draw me, and let us run together!  Help me tell your story from the place of the fellowship of our hearts.  Make me a Bethany of your presence and may our love burn at the hearth a never ending flame that even death can not quench.

martha-mary-jesus

Blind Sight

I used to be very afraid of the dark. Leaping from the bedroom doorway to my bed, sure there were monsters waiting to grab my ankles from under the darkness.  As I grew older it became a point of pride and a sign of strength to be the one of my friends in our night time capture the can game to venture into the dark, and defend the mound alone. Deep down, I was still terrified, and would tremble at the sounds and imagine all kinds of evil waiting to pounce upon me.  I was never comfortable with the night, until I realized during one of my readings at youth group, that God clothes himself in darkness, and Moses braved the dark, to see the glory of God.  I wanted to desperately see God as a teenager, and so I staged my own version of the Cherokee Indian Rite of Passage hoping that God would meet me in the way he had met Moses on Sinai.

In the legend, the young Cherokee boy is taken outside the camp, blind folded and led deep into the woods where he is placed upon a stump to sit all night. He is not to cry out, or to move but is to brave the sounds and creatures of the night. In the morning when the rays of dawn break through the darkness, if he has bravely stayed his watch without fear or crying out for help, he is considered a man.  When the blind fold is taken off, he is astonished to see his father was seated on the stump next to him, keeping watch over his son all night, and protecting him from harm.

After reading this story, I decided to brave the night, and test my Heavenly Father’s care for me, with a few modifications.  I only made it to the back side of the pasture, and vowed to keep my eyes closed instead of using a blindfold.  I had waited until the house was very quiet, crept downstairs and out the back door.  There was no moon that night, and the stars offered little guidance as  I made it to the secret spot and sat in the darkness trying to hear something other than my pounding heart.  Once my heart stopped racing I was fascinated by the various sounds and rhythms the night offered.  It had it’s own song and cadence.  I was amazed at what could be heard in the night. Pictures of sounds became vivid in my mind, and a landscape that was so different from what my eyes had memorized during the day emerged.  I was delighted to discover I could make out familiar movements of the livestock, could gauge distance from the way their hooves moved in the dirt, and even the munching of grass hoppers on the timothy stalks next to me was discernible.  I had discovered a new world and it was strangely comforting.  They say that when we lose one of our primary senses, the others senses become heightened.  That night I found I could “see” with my ears.

My thoughts turn to our devotional reading from Mark 10 and the familiar story of blind Bartimaeus.  Is that how he had survived all these years?  He had learned to listen to footsteps, and discern hearts by the way they walked?  Whether the sandal-ed  feet  brought charity or a swift kick to the side?  Which feet to lean towards, which ones to shy from.  We find Jesus thronged with a crowd as he makes his way to the road outside the city, there must have been something about the movement of the feet that caused Baritmaeus to beg answers rather than coins. Who is approaching?  Why the commotion?  What is happening?

And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.  And many rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.  Mark 10:47-48 AS Version

Bartimaeus had likely heard many stories from those who passed his begging spot on the road from Jericho.  How this Nazarene was unlike any man anyone had ever seen. He may have even wondered, “can anything good come from Nazareth?” That is not the city of the prophets, or the great ones. Yet the stories must have come jingling like alms to his heart. A deaf mute cured, a paralytic healed, lepers cleansed and a man blind from birth now sees!  Rumors of the Messiah must have swirled around him awakening hope that He would come to his town.

Something must have taken hold in his heart from the tales of the wayfarers  because Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus with the phrase reserved for the Messiah:  “Son of David” and pulls on the covenant promise of mercy…”have mercy on me!”  He will not be silenced, until the Son of God stands still and asks the dangerous question:  What do you want?  In that moment Bartimaeus’s faith through hearing brings him sight.  ” My Master, that I might see”

Isa 42:6-7  I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;  to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.

In one moment, Bartimaeus went from the prison of darkness, into the glorious light of Messiah’s love and fellowship.  His mantel of his old life left lying on the ground, we find him accompanying Messiah on the road.  He became a disciple of the Way, a joyful testament to the glory of God breaking in to the darkness of sin and despair. Though he was blind in the natural, he could see the reality of the mission of Christ with his spirit, and he believed! Nothing would silence his cry for mercy.  No matter how many times we was told to shut up, and pushed aside he knew the wretched state of his existence and the Messiah was his only hope. His desperation moves me to consider my own blindness.

How badly do I desire mercy?  How blind am I to the reality of the condition of my heart?  Do I know that I am but a beggar on the side of the road, without the eyes of my understanding being enlightened, that I might see the hope of  the one who calls me to come to Him. ( Ephesian 1:18).  Lord, I ask with the cry of Bartimaeus, have mercy on me…Master, open my eyes, that I may see.

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On Jordan’s Banks

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”  And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Mark 10:35-36

What a dangerous request. A moment ago he had “loved” the rich young ruler….to death.  Agape love, self sacrificing love.  He loved him with the truth, with the honest reality that he lacked the greatest thing in the world, that was a death to self and a life lived in the Messiah standing before him. Now the boys are pulling on their intimate attachment to the Rabbi, and asking for position, power and influence in eternity. I could feel the Master’s gaze upon them, seeing into and beyond the moment.  Loving them.

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Mark 10:38

The word baptized in the Hebrew that corresponds with this passage is only mentioned once, it is the world tabal, and it means to dip, plunge, to immerse oneself into.  It happens to be at the dark waters of the Jordan with Naaman the leper commander of the King of Syria.  Angry that a messenger was sent to tell him to take a bath in a muddy river he storms off in his self-righteous indignation talking to himself:

 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper.  Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. 2 Kngs 5:11-12 NKJV

Humility is the theme of today’s devotion, and I have come to find it is the most elusive attribute and the costliest of all garments.  How often I have come to my Lord demanding attention to a need, or request of selfish gain and when he “loved” me enough to withhold the object of my desire, I pouted and stormed at His righteousness.  I have raged  with leprous pride ,ambition and envy.  Stumbling from the soreness in my flesh, longing to be free in my soul, yearning to know peace but refusing the unclear waters of the Jordan. Refusing the messenger of glad tidings from the heart of Father, because it didn’t come by direct revelation.  Because I didn’t approve of the wording, or the method of the messengers of grace.  I have been like the Zebedee boys and I have stormed off like Naaman, reciting the attributes of my own ways and means over the direct instruction of my God.  I have often refused to wash and be clean, and blamed my God for my lack of wholeness.

 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?  Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2Kings 5:13-14 NKJV

The Spirit moved me to the banks of the Jordan to stare into the murky water.  The water of the ways of the mystery of God’s dealings with man.  So often shrouded in darkness, bathed in lightning, and trumpets and smoke, and mud. What does it mean to wash? I run my hands under the water of the Word and wait.

The word for wash in the above scripture is rachats.  It means to wash the whole or part of a thing, means wash basin, and there in its root form, it means trust. Like a servant who washes his master, trust.  Like a mother who washes her baby, trust. Like the way the healer washes our wounds, trust.  For the kindness to succeed, trust is the necessary response of the recipient.

I sat quiet for a long while staring at the invitations to the Jordan that have been extended time and again and my justifications that have kept me soul sick and ineffective.  It was always about trust.  I could feel Him Agape me.  Love me to the truth of the matter, the root of my leprosy was that I didn’t trust the nearness and goodness of God.

Oswald Chambers said that the root of all sin is the suspicion that God is not good. I was horribly suspicious of what I could not see.  The call to step into the muddy water in full trust of his goodness provoked terror.  I could feel the Spirit whisper to me:  “Would you be clean?”

Father, I wait on the banks of the unclear, unknown waters of your ways.  I declare my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts. I yield my prideful heart to you.  Wash me, and I will be clean. Save me, and I will be saved. Feed me and I shall eat.  Call me, and I will come. Make me whole precious Healer, as I place my trust in the goodness of your heart alone.oak_creek_fall

Bottle Broke

Mar 10:13-16

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

The encouragement for this time of devotion today is to :  become like a child.”  The text taken from the familiar passage in Mark 10 of Jesus cradling babies, and giving piggy back rides to the toddlers.  You can almost hear the contagious laughter of children echo on the way.

“Come on, Jesus is here, let’s play! Last one to the Rabbi is a rotten egg!”

The verse says he was greatly displeased as his disciples rebuked the parents for bothering the Master with such a trivial thing as holding their children, touching them, and blessing them.  They didn’t get it yet.  It is what we all need. To snuggle on the lap of our Abba.  It is what Jesus came to do, reconcile us, not to a set of traditions or rules, but to the lap of our God.

Psa 131:1-3

  A Song of Ascents; of David. Jehovah, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, Or in things too wonderful for me.
 Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with his mother, Like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, hope in Jehovah From this time forth and for evermore.

David sings out over the kingdom the state of his soul. The place of contentment with his status in life.  His identity wasn’t wrapped up in positions, or titles, or honor. Whether Shepherd or King he had learned to quiet his soul and hope in his God.  He actually uses a very strong word…weaned, to describe his inner state of being.  No longer needing the breast and demanding to be fed when Elshaddi (which means many breasted one, incidentally, signifying the ability of God to provide for the needs of his people. All powerful, all providing) was near, but quiet and leaning for the simple sake of intimacy and companionship.   Weaning is a messy business.

I will never forget the day our littlest one experienced the horror of this reality of weaning.  It is a place of humor and fun now that our little Honey Bee is an adult, but at the time it was traumatic and world shattering.  The Gardener and I were in a hurry somewhere, and our car was packed to the max with car seats, diaper bags, groceries, and the volume was steadily increasing as the contents of her bottle were fading, she was demanding her ba ba be filled, and with one well aimed fling towards the back of her dad’s head, she made her point.  In one lightning move, The Gardener grabbed her bottle and promptly threw it out the window.  “All gone, your done!”

The look on her face has been frozen into my memory and still brings a chuckle to my heart.  Her eyes went from astonishment, to terror to anger in a fast progression. As she grasped the severity of the moment, her little lower lip was sucked under her front teeth, her eyes brimmed with tears, and she was not about to give us the satisfaction of seeing her cry!  She was mad.  But, that was the end of her bottle.  Soon the joys of sippy cups filled with juice, and straws filled with bubbly things replaced the desire for the powdered formula she had clung so tight to, delights that she never would have experienced without the intervention.

Abba knows there are times when we need intervention as well.  He knows that sometimes things, people, ministries, titles, that have become toxic to our growth can be taken away from us slowly, graciously, and at other times they must be ripped from our hands and hurled out the window if we are ever to move to maturity.  But, I have learned that as The Gardener did for the Honey Bee, God does for us.  That night when he tucked her into bed without her beloved bottle, he gave her something more precious than a substitute for comfort, he gave her the tangible presence of his love, the safety of his arms as he read her favorite story and reminded her of what a good, big girl she really was, even if she couldn’t see it for herself yet.

Whenever God withholds something from us, he always gives us himself. He never weans us without providing the place of intimacy and fellowship where we can run like David and learn to lean upon him. Finding that we long for the Giver, more than we do the gifts.  As paradoxes go, this one is pretty awesome in that once we have stopped craving the childish wants, we discover a world of delight has opened for us that we can only attain, by becoming a child.  Not a child of the flesh, but a child of the Spirit.  Leaping into the arms of Christ with simple faith that our needs will be met, our lives attended to because he is the Good Shepherd of our souls brings with it the very keys of the Kingdom.

Father, where I have grasped at power and position and fame of my own making wean me.  Throw out the pacifiers of selfish satisfactions and teach me how to rest upon your breast. Give me the yearning to know your heart above all other sounds, and to sit quietly and wait for the strength that is promised to those who know how to be still.Are-we-alll-gods-children