30 April, 2016

Oh, You Know Me

I found myself walking down a dark hallway, beautiful candles were burning, and light music was playing.  The smells were of lavender and gardenia.  As I followed my guide down this hallway there was only the quiet slap of my slippers and our whispered voices.  "Here we are...please take a moment to get comfortable and I will return to begin your facial."  Oh, the beautiful spa life...this was  a special day of relaxation and fun with my girlfriend.  I had anticipated this for several weeks and finally the time had arrived.  We were about 10 minutes into this experience when my itty-bitty brain committee came awake and begin to speak words into my head...."you realize, that with a facial ALL your makeup comes off!  You realize you really don't know these people you are with?  You realize you don't look really great without your makeup?  You realize people won't really like you if they see the real you?"  Ugh, I really despise this itty-bitty committee...BUT, I began to buy into this garbage talk.  My thoughts were swarming all over about how I could reapply makeup really quickly or if I could possibly get a 'partial/make-up stays-on' facial.  What a ridiculous thought as a gallon of steam was pouring down over my face!!!  What an absurd thought process I was caught up in!

It was in this great seam of frustration and actually fear....that I heard Him...I know you.  I see you.  I see you as I created you.  You are beautiful to me. I know you.  I know you love Me.  I love you just as you are.

I then realized that the steam and my tears were commingling.  I know you, He kept whispering.  Just relax and surrender to Me for I know you.  My tears were coming quickly at this point.  I knew there was more in this message than I dared to explore.

There are many verses in the Bible that speak about knowing God or God knowing us.  Ponder these with me.
You have searched me, Lord
and you know me.Ps. 139:1 
Search me, God, and know my heart;test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me,  and lead me in the way everlasting.Ps. 139:23-24
But the verses that keep calling to me are from John 21.  I just wrote on this scripture several weeks ago.  Why would I be called back to it now?
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”John 21:15-17
I've always read these verses with the obvious focus on Jesus' words TO John.  But today....I hear a different message.  I feel Jesus encouraging me to state what I know out loud, particularly to out speak that itty-bitty committee....
You're not good enough, they say.
I say to my King:  You search me and KNOW me. You KNOW that I love you.
They say, if people really knew you they will not like you.
But I say to you, Jesus, You know my anxious thoughts, You KNOW all things; you KNOW that I love you.

Oh Lord, keep teaching me.  Keep teaching me to call out to you and call out the truth of your love for me.  Keep teaching me to let go of all the outward and focus on You, my inward, my love, my completeness.

02 April, 2016

P. S. Easter?

was asked this week, "Mrs. Kathy, what comes after Easter?  I mean, the Santa celebration is well over, the New Year has passed, the Easter bunny has hopped off and we've celebrated Jesus so what's next."  Indeed, I thought, what is next?

This student's words strike me today and they strike me hard.  "We've celebrated Jesus so what's next?"  This brings so many questions to my mind....have I celebrated Jesus?  And why is this question in the past tense?  Shouldn't I/we be in the process of always celebrating Jesus?  Of course, yes, is the answer to this pondering.  But I daresay that my week since Easter Sunday has been less than a full celebration of who this Messiah truly is....the I AM.

So I asked myself today, what difference does Easter make in my life?  Really, what day-to-day difference does it make?  The disciples found themselves in a similar situation as they gathered eight days after their Jesus had been killed and then ressurected.  Some believed and some had a hard time believing the astounding story being told.  Today I've looked at several verses in John that are guiding my thoughts.
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”
27 Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
28 Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”
29 Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” John 20:26-31The Message
And then only a few verses later another insightful conversation occurs:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  John 21:15-17
So the first answer to my question, what difference does Easter make, is life and hope.  As Thomas discovered, the hope of life forever with no pain, death defeated and absolute Joy.  Of course...Hallelujah!  But inasmuch as I feel joy in this Hope I also feel unsettled.  My spirit becomes restless as I wait on earth for my Hope to come for I often question what I have experienced and what life brings.

And then Jesus appears again to me as He did to his disciples.  On the beach and after cooking breakfast for the disciples, his closest friends, He probes and asks questions of great meaning.  Do you love me more than these?  Feed my lambs.  Do you truly love me?  Take care of my sheep.  Do you love me?  Feed my sheep.   According to John these were some of Jesus' last words to the disciples ...and to me....and to you.  Could these last words of Jesus be the essence of Easter and my purpose?

Kathy, Enrique, Heather, Jose, Esther, Moses, Jack, Samuel, Mary, Yi Sun, Liza, Eric, Pierre... ...do....you...love....me?  Do you love me more than these?  Do you love me more than your friends or more than your occupation and success, more than your life?  Then feed my lambs, take care of  my sheep and feed my sheep.

I can act naive and dense and close my eyes and heart to the sheep and lambs in my world....and I do all too often.  I act as though I'm confused as to who He is referring, but I know.  Just as surely as Thomas felt the the nail marks in His hands, I know.  He is referring to my neighborhood, my office, the people I'm uncomfortable around, the people from different countries, with different beliefs.  He's referring to the people I see everyday who have no Hope.

The P. S. of Easter is...hope, love AND to be His witnesses. 'For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.' Acts 1:22b  A witness?  Yes, simply sharing my journey, my story, my life.  Simply sharing what I have seen, what I have experienced, what I have lived, what questions I wrestle with still.  That is the only witness I have, don't you agree?  Are you called to be a witness this P.S Easter day?

If I can't accept my duty to feed the sheep then I cannot answer the question, Do you love me?  Do you love me more than these?

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