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God’s been on me lately to write on this blog again. I’m always resistant, because it’s always a rough process to put my heart out there, and I also doubt frequently how much good I am really doing. But I promised God that I’d write this blog, and there are still stories left to tell, and so I’m here again today, writing, hoping some good comes from it, though I have doubts.

I suppose I should start by talking some about what actually happened on the weekend that I rededicated my life to Christ. It was a weekend at Prayer Lake, and where to begin? It’s a weekend hanging out with God. People who have done this themselves find this easy to grasp, plenty of outsiders would try to tell me I just talk to myself for 2 days, or keep an imaginary friend. But I know the “sound” of my own thoughts, and I know the “sound” of someone else’s thoughts.

Withholding some of the discussions that were too intimate to discuss here, this is what I wrote in my journal about it, to help me remember:

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Jan 18-20, 2018:

This [trip] was fairly different from the one before. It was more with the Father than the Son. I thanked Him many times for His Son, Jesus. I had been thinking recently that a lot of Jesus’ work was to get me to, and in love with, His Father, whom Jesus loved so deeply and derived his personality from, and was trained by. So I spent a lot of time in intimacy with the Father, too, talking to Him.

When I got there the first night, I kept going around, straightening up my belongings, stopping to think about things, etc., and at one point I said, “I know, God, I know. I’m avoiding You.” Something evil had been active in me lately to keep me from being able to hold still or focus my thoughts to commune with God or receive any healing for anything. It had been up and kicking terribly lately, so much so that several times I’d walked out of church. And while I didn’t have as much trouble entering the cabin [as I did last year], my mind constantly darted around, not holding still long enough to interact or pray for any length of time.

I did not realize how badly my mind had become scrambled by that point – probably from phone and internet use — until I went to sleep that night, and being in a room all by myself, I was waking up in the middle of the night saying, “give me 5 more minutes son, I need more sleep,” and “I’ll help you in a minute, give me some time to get out of bed,” and a million other pointless, meandering dreams masquerading as reality.

Saturday I woke up, and my brain felt like it was starting to unscramble itself and get back to normal. I spent a lot of the day talking to God, about different things, much of which was not particularly important. But I told him how I was having doubts lately, how through comedies and stuff I was watching on YouTube, so often the message was that religion is ridiculous and there is no God. “I worry, sometimes, God — what if they’re right? What if I am just imagining You? And even if I’m not, how am I supposed to be a light in a country where people are so disproportionately against you?”

“Magic talking box telling you about reality again, eh?” He responded.

And that was pretty much the end of that fear. Because He was right – a rehearsed, recorded show does not include near enough information to know the heart of these people, their spirit, their circumstances, their background. I have no way of knowing what or why or how they stopped believing, or even if their words are true or just for comedic effect. As it’s strangely hard to remember sometimes, entertainment is not reality.

As evening came, I crawled up comfortably in a chair, and looked again at the compilation book from Passion of the Christ, where they take stills from the movie and match them to a well put-together account of the Passion, woven together seamlessly from all four Gospel accounts. When I closed it, God drew my attention to Him. There was an open door to the bedroom, where it had grown dark — I hate the dark. The Father said very clearly to me, “come be in the dark with me, and let me wrap my arms around you.” I hesitated for just a minute, then rose and crossed over to the bed in the dark room. Without any resistance or pretensions I came to Him, just a sincere desire to let Him be able to have me as He had made me. “After all,” I thought, “how often does He get to have me all to Himself?” (Sometimes I think of how human beings like things like fishing or sleeping or golf, but avoid these tasks because of their responsibilities to work; and when a day comes that they’re able to skip their work responsibilities, they are overjoyed to be able to do what they really wanted to do. For God, whose greatest drive seems to be intimacy with humanity, how wonderful must it be to have a moment where He is able to put aside all testing, encouraging, arguing, etc., and just be with a person, surrounded by the joint love of belonging to one another?

I crawled into bed, full of the joy of being His… completely unsure what to expect next, but unbelievably happy. Some kind of extra joy was welling up in my heart, too. It was the realization that our interaction, though brief, were things that only people who really love each say, or care about. There was no rehearsal and no falsehood and no fear that I didn’t fully believe what I was saying and doing. By the workings of the Holy Spirit, I had grown over the last fourteen years; grown through those first days of shouting and throwing things at Him; through those later days of making peace with Him; now His love welled up inside of me every time I looked at Him, and I got to experience a small reflection of that wonderful love only He could fathom. And further joy was the realization that “come be with me in the dark, and let me wrap my arms around you,” might not just be for tonight, but also a calling placed on the rest of my life.

I remember the dim gray outline of the sheets as I slid in, wondering what would happen now. Before I knew it, I was asleep. What happened during that sleep, I have no memory of. But when I woke up in the morning — Wow! I was so completely, perfectly joyful. Not laughing, not sleepy, just joy.

I wondered at first if I should even get out of bed, the feeling of joy laying there was so utterly complete. I found myself rolling from one side of the bed to the other, orienting myself in one direction or another, amazed for some reason that at all angles and in all shapes, the joy was still on me.

I got up eventually, reluctantly, and began doing the simple tasks of cleaning up and greeting the day.

At the end of the weekend, He started talking to me about the idea of rededicating my life to Christ. In a voice full of affection, God the Father told me, “I’m not opposed to starting all over again.” It struck me as somewhat romantic – a promise to keep trying, to do whatever was required to keep the marriage of souls alive and fertile.

That night, on the ride home, I decided to rededicate my life to Christ. The idea had begun to take root during my time at the cabin, but came to a fully-formed thought just miles from home. I pulled over, rededicating my life to Christ, with praise, with a commitment all over again to restore His throne in the seat of my Heart.

God bless you, and have a good weekend.

*As I have mentioned before, quotes attributed to God on this site, unless scripturally referenced, are simply my closest understanding to what I believe I felt Him say to me. They are not meant to substitute for the Bible, and may be distorted by my own cracked lens of perception. Thank you.*

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Humility in Art

Well, God has called me to humility once again. On a Sunday morning when I was dreaming up a “fantastic” essay about God that “could not wait”, I stopped dead in my tracks. I had realized, with the Spirit’s help, that I was committing idolatry, even as I wrote about God. Why, He reasoned with me, was I putting aside my relationship with God to write about my idea of God? Had I asked Him what He thought about this piece? Had I checked with scripture to make sure I was correct? No. While I had a real, honest-to-god God sitting beside me, I had ceased talking to or looking at Him. I was instead focusing all the energy of my heart on the ideas that had about Him. And so I had put my own mind before God, and slipped into worshiping myself – one of the most dangerous idols of all. Adding to that shame was the realization that while I was daydreaming, all my flesh-and-blood duties to my family were being ignored.

As I spoke about in “God with a Regular Day Job” parts 1 and 2, we as Christians serve a God that is peculiarly inclined to labor. His own Son, possessing all the power and Glory of God in human form, worked as a manual laborer for 30 years. After those 30 years, He made profound and highly intelligent speeches — punctuated by the most degrading of work. He touched lepers, washed feet, and held emotional communion with homeless prostitutes and publicly naked mentally ill persons. He was touched by people with rotting skin, STD’s, bleeding disorders, and every filthy disease you can think of (and did not shrink away from the people who had them). And, of course, in the end, He died a humiliating and disgusting death, characterized by nails, thorns, a blindfold, vinegar, chains, and lead-tipped whips… Even a list of the instruments used gives me a shudder. With this kind of example in mind, I feel that artistic expression, though important to me, cannot replace genuine God-to-Person prayer; also, it should not be given a place higher than laundry, packed lunches, and schoolwork, because all work done for God is to His glory, especially when it is humble and done for other people.

God Bless you, and have a good weekend.
– Morgan Hart

Related Scriptures:
1 Corinthians 13:1
Mark 6:3

**for readers with Dyslexia, this page can be cut-and-pasted into a different font. Please see OpenDyslexic for details.**

A Piece of Writing

Hello all! If you’ve wondered where I’ve been disappearing to, I’ve been putting more work into larger projects. (Plus trying to earn an income.)

I’ve been writing a book since April — I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but like any artistic project, it refuses to leave me be, despite all my other, more immediate, obligations.

Anyway I thought it might be good to occasionally share pieces of the “big dogs” writing projects.

This piece comes out of a fiction work currently in progress. It tells the story of a woman agreeing to stay in the spare room of a stranger’s home as a means of escaping an abusive boyfriend. Though not religious, she quickly becomes suspicious that her host is none other than Jesus. (And, to clarify, she usually just calls him J, avoiding saying his name.)

Anyway, here goes!

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There were a lot of strange things I learned about J from living with him. You meet people sometimes who you can tell they’ve been through a lot, and he was like that — but different. I guess the best word for it was that he was not haunted… It was all light with Him, even in trauma. He was so convinced of purpose, it left no room for doubt; and with no doubt, he was unafraid.

I also came to realize that I loved Him. It was strange at first, even difficult – he was so obviously better than me, so much better, and I spent my first days alternating between giddy excitement and depressed self-loathing. How could such a man even love me? I saw all my awfulness drug from the shadows into the light of day, when I looked into his eyes. After a few days, however — once it felt like everything had been drug out of me that could be — and after I had told him everything about myself and my life — I was standing in the garden, quietly, and I realized I was truly happy.

As I lived with him, I began to notice more things – trademarks from his past. He had holes in his hands and feet – I had already known that before I met him. But he had a lot of other scars, too. Sometimes if he ran his hands through his hair, I’d see marks around his hairline. I was going to ask him about it one day when I suddenly realized – these were scars from The Crown of Thorns. The thought of it was so awful that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom. I just stood there in front of the mirror, mouth covered, eyes shut. That evening while I sat in the living room, I could not look at him. When he asked me what was wrong, I lied and said I was fine.

One day we were washing dishes together and J got his shirt soaked somehow. Laughing, he pulled off his shirt and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair. I turned, laughing, to speak to him.

When I turned to look at him, I suddenly dropped the plate like a shocked housewife in a sitcom. It came crashing to the floor.

He turned to look at me. “What’s wrong?”

I was trembling and crying, unable to speak yet. He walked over to me, and loosely held my arms. “What’s wrong?” he asked gently. I buried my face in his chest, sobbing.

I had never seen J’s back before that day. It was a tangled mess of scar tissue, from one end to the other. Starting from the base of his neck, going past where his jeans covered him, there were large scars, branching into smaller scars, branching into nasty little blotches and spurs. It was not disgusting, for it had longsince healed solid. But it was horrifying to see, even to imagine. Worse yet, I had the strange feeling that I had contributed to them.

He rubbed my shoulders reassuringly. When I regained my breath, I pulled away from him slightly, not breaking his embrace. “What happened to you?” I cried. He looked intently at me. “Your back,” I said softly. “What happened to it?”

Now tears formed in J’s eyes, but not from sorrow. “It was a cat-of-nine-tails, beloved. A kind of whip they used to use that split at the ends, and they wove sharp objects into the braids.” He gave me a moment to let that sink in. “They tortured me with one. Took my clothes from me, bound my hands to a post, pulled my undergarments down around my ankles like a little boy about to be spanked. They whipped me forty times, from my shoulders to the back of my kneecaps.” Another long pause. “But it didn’t appease the crowd. So they laid a wooden cross across my back — on all the open wounds — and they made me carry it through town, until we reached the outskirts. Then they took my clothes, laid me naked over it, nailed me down and put me where everyone passing in and out of town could see me. It was like that for six hours. And then I died.”

The way he spoke about it, gently and without bitterness, made it somehow even harder to hear. He rubbed my back and I stared into the distance, not looking at anything in particular. All my life, I had known such things: seen crucifixes hung over doors, seen paintings of Jesus’ suffering… But now it struck me that there was an actual guy in there. It wasn’t some Greek god, or some bigger-than-life legend, or a TV character. There was a slightly short man with normal skin and a normal pain tolerance, who actually felt all this. And he was standing here in my kitchen now, holding me.

I could feel tears dripping down my face. Whatever I might personally believe about J, I knew he was good, and the idea of someone hurting him so badly just killed me inside.

“But you’re never angry about it. So much pain. How could…” I swallowed. “How could you even feel so much pain?”

He sighed. “Beloved, people are tortured every day, all over the Earth, often for the very things I taught them. I’m not denying that it hurt — it was almost unbearable. But for that part, I had only to survive; I could count a certain number of hours out, and then it would be finished.” He swallowed, took my head in his hands, and looked directly into my eyes. “But what hurt worse was feeling all of your sins and pain. Because I carried you.” I tensed as I remembered the dream I’d had.

He held me close and stroked my hair. After a while like this, he turned his head and asked, “Do you want to talk about this?” And I knew what he was asking me.

Suddenly scared, I said “no”, and wriggled out of his embrace. I literally ran from the room, leaving behind pieces of broken dishes and J, also broken, to clean up my mess.