I hear a call in the quiet of the early morning: “Deepen,” He whispers. God is using the specific vocabulary of a Madeleine L’Engle lover.
I was shaken Saturday. Triggered, that is. They were dressed straight off the cover of a JCrew catalog and I shrunk back, sure they could see straight into my uncool. The message of the arrows came back loud. (Have you read Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge? Classic and beautiful. So worth your time.)
“Here comes rejection,” swirled unbidden from somewhere deep.
I felt uprooted, pulled up and honestly? I felt separated from God. The anxiety earthquake was so strong that I couldn’t scurry for cover, couldn’t hide under the banner of love (Song of Songs 2:4). I was 12 and had braces and permed frizzy hair. I might even have forgotten to put on deoderant (every junior higher’s worse nightmare…or maybe just mine.)
I was sick, but didn’t really know it at the time. A chest cold. Asthma. The voices come back loudest when I’m sick.
But, honestly, there’s been a lot of hard work done already. I found myself going faster to Jesus, bypassing the intense shame that used to descend like a thick cloud. But, bummer, (yes, I say words like “bummer” and “shoot”) I thought I had healed from that and wow, will this anxiety surge every time I walk up to these fashion goddesses?
“Deepen” I hear again.
Have you read A Wrinkle in Time? I love it. I read it again this last summer with my kids on a rainy day. It’s still good as an adult. Now, have you read A Wind in the Door? It’s seriously one of my I- need- this-with-me- on- a-deserted- island books. Brilliant theology. It makes me want to worship.
The youngest sibling, Charles Wallace, is sick and getting sicker fast and the doctors can’t tell them why. Death feels immanent. Obviously a plot straight out of a fantasy novel, a few characters are shrunk inside his body to survey the damage, to see if they can discover a path toward healing. While inside they meet the culprits: farandolae, a microscopic species inside his cells, who don’t want to deepen, don’t want to grow roots, and so are spinning out of control, dying, slowly killing their host. I know, a little dramatic (though possibly a great social commentary on our culture.) But, it’s fiction, there needs to be drama.
“Deepen,” I hear.
God, I cry out, it’s not that I don’t want to grow roots, don’t want to deepen, it’s just that there is so much darn stuff to do! My life is stuffed with people and children and ministry. There are dust bunnies under the futon and my sink is clogged with dirty dishes. Most of the activity and of course the people…I love dearly.
The truth comes down firm. Pay attention to first things.
I’m not paying attention to the One Thing that Jesus chided Martha about. Her sister was resting at Jesus’ feet, in listening mode. Martha was spinning around so fast she wasn’t even aware of the magnetic force of God breaking open true Life in just the other room. One thing is needed, Martha. Just one. (Luke 10 38-42).
Practice my Presence.
I have clarity in this early morning calm. Healing will come out of this will-work, this conscious knowing of God’s presence here in this moment. I feel Brother Lawrence daring me to practice God’s presence from his post doing dishes there in that medieval monastery in France.
From his second conversation:
“That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually, and referring all we
do to Him; we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care we
should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.”
Here is the “aha moment”: if I am deepened in His Presence, truly dwelling there, resting from that center, I can invite others smack dab into the center of our ongoing communion. When I am safe, deepened, roots down, stable spread into unconditional love then I can humbly, gently open my arms to another…
without disturbing the root system.
I turn to Bible Gateway and find this gem, this billboard, as my kids’ babysitter Kim would say:
Jeremiah 17:8 ESV
(S)He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
God, plant me, deepen me, spread my roots so firmly into You that I am free to love all of your precious ones, even fashion goddesses.
All tree photography found at this beautiful etsy shop: Amy Tyler Photography
Friend, what work is the Lord doing in your life? Do tell. Please share in the comment section and then, if you have a blog, add a link to your site so we can say thanks to God too.