My Snuggly Bunny

The other day, I saw an image that took my breath away. It was a pastel watercolor of a young boy, falling asleep on a porch swing, with a young rabbit curled up on his chest. The image was so gentle, so peaceful, that it brought tears to my eyes.

With a little research, I found out it was from this book:

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Furtively, I went online to order a used copy. Looking over my shoulder, I made sure no one saw me order it, made sure it would come in a plain brown box, as if I was buying something obscene!

This is how deeply I hate being the sensitive person that I am. It feels too much like weakness to me. I hate personality tests that rate other people as “lions” or “wolves” while rating me as a “dove” or “doe” or another useless, severely weak animal.

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I hate people seeing me crying at a movie, or looking at a children’s book. I even hated it when I had my first child, and some coworkers came to visit. I felt pathetic and laughable to be seen in such a state, marked as I was by blood and bandages, not fully dressed, unable to sit up unassisted. While I loved my child like crazy, the presence of a newborn in my arms did not help. In my mind, this one visit ruined the image I had worked so hard to cultivate: the image of a strong, self-assured, working woman.

It hasn’t gotten any easier since that day. In mixed company, I avoid talking about being an artist, for fear that it will make me look moody. I avoid owning anything that is too pink, too lacy, or too silly, for fear I won’t be taken seriously. I think about creativity and emotion – my “soft” side – as something inferior, an embarrassment that must be covered up at all costs.

This time, though, God has not been silent on the matter. He told me that while I may despise my “soft” side, it’s actually the part of me that most closely resembles Him. He said love and sensitivity – and with it, the ability to be hurt – were Godlike traits. He said that the problem was not sensitivity at all: it was the fact that someone, influenced by the Devil, had told me that I shouldn’t be that way.

In my mind’s eye, I saw a flowing river, and at one spot, its movement was being impeded by an ugly, rock-covered sand bar, jutting out almost to my full height. Jesus told me not to worry, that we’d work on it together, over time. And He took my hand and told me that He loves me.

He loves me.

I can’t count the number of times He’s told me this, sometimes through others, sometimes through scriptures, and sometimes from His own mouth; but every single time, it catches me off guard. He loves me. The God of all the Universe loves me.

Beloved Readers,

May you find His love today and throughout the week.

Sincerely,

Morgan Grace Hart
Scripture for Today:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death
— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:1-11 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Philippians%202:1-11&version=NIV

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You Never Belonged

So I had the most wonderful conversation with Jesus Christ recently. I hadn’t felt His presence in what seemed like eons. I had decided to push on in prayer, through sheer force of will, and just hope for the intimacy to be restored — it feels like walking through hot smoke and ice water when I can’t feel my Lord near me.
I don’t know what caused him to show up out of the blue, one afternoon. But I had recently gone through a huge personal struggle about being upset with my status at work, and ultimately, consulted the scriptures and decided to pursue humility. If I were to guess, it was this conscious decision that brought my Lord near me, as humility always brings God closer to us (Micah 6:8; James 4:6-8; Psalm 34:18, 51:17-18, 149:4; 1 Peter 3:3-4, 5:6; Phillipians 2:3-9; Isaiah 66:1-2; Luke 14:11; Proverbs 3:34; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Or perhaps it was just my continued wanting him (James 4:8, Jeremiah 29:13). But it’s not mine to know: we “walk by faith, not sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
At the particular moment he came to me, I was praying and  struggling with some very unhappy things in my heart. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself standing alone. Then Jesus approached me, and wrapped his arms tightly around my shoulders, resting his head against mine, my face against his shoulder. He gave me a moment of quiet, then broke the silence in a gentle but assured voice:
“I know that you feel like you’ve never belonged anywhere,” he said, slowly. “But you do — you belong here, you belong with me. I want you here with me, forever, every time you wake up, every time you go to sleep.”
Then he quoted to me from John 14:20: “On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” And it struck me for the first time that, this wonderful man whom I admired and loved so much – I was actually a part of Him. I had always understood that Christ was in me – a piece of his heart metaphorically beating in my chest – but I had never, ever thought about, that was a part of him.
I was in Him – who I was, in some small way, contributed to who He was. He let that sink in, with an equally amazing idea that I really did have a job to do for the Kingdom of God, that I really was chosen for a reason and tasked to maintain some crucial role in the will of Jesus Christ and His goals here on the Earth, a “member of His body,” as Paul described it. And Jesus said to me, in my mind’s eye, “you belong with me, here, forever.” He emphasized this last part: “and you are exactly the person I wanted.” I was elated. I could not think of a kinder commission he could have spoken over me. I’m still reeling, weeks later.
Forget sin, forget failure, all that is behind us now. As far as my Lord is concerned, I have always been, and always will be, the one who fills a tiny hole in His heart, the lost sheep so crucial that He’d leave everything behind to redeem me.
God bless, and have a good weekend.

Rededicating My Life to Christ (or: Pursuing the Humility of the Cross)

As I spoke about in the entries “Positive Responses” and “Put a Ring On It“, I just returned to Prayer Lake. It was a similiarly miraculous experience, complete with my familiar fear of intimacy, the beckoning of the Spirit of God, and the simple, overwhelming joy of being His. At the end of the weekend, I rededicated my life to Christ. I know that will surprise some people – I hadnt left the faith, after all – but I had realized, deep down, that Jesus was no longer the motive of my life, the husband of my soul. I re-read the centuries-old book, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence (about $5 on Amazon) – a book that had a profound impact on my early faith. I found myself craving that simple, whole-hearted surrender of those first days, and I decided, for the second time in my life, to put aside all selfish ambition and offer myself wholey over to love, over to God, my body a living sacrifice. I decided that, if it makes me sound foolish in front of others; if it costs me opportunities; if it puts my life on a different track than I wanted it to be; that I would still steadfastly follow Christ, looking directly into His eyes, following not my own life but rather the Love of my Life.

In this vein I often think of the words Jesus spoke through the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 50:4-9. If you haven’t read it, it’s an amazing passage. It’s Jesus speaking in first person about how His relationship with God helped Him to endure such scorn and humiliation in his death. To expand on His words, He understood that His walk – as with all believers – was a walk before God, not man.

I feel beckoned by that humility. Perhaps I could accomplish great things in a different life path, if I followed my own ambitions over God’s. But if it is not the path God carved out for me, it’s not the path I want.

I am surprised by how much the first days of this “starting over” have resembled the first days of my faith. As with the first time I dedicated my life to Christ, each day brings a greater understanding of what a profound change it all is. I’m feeling redirection, a sense that many things I previously deemed “good”, I now deem worthless, for the sake of the Cross. And there are many things I need to lay aside, as a sacrifice to Love.

I’m starting to realize this decision could cost me a great deal, making my life potentially more difficult than the plans I had previously made. But then… there’s love. None of these potential difficulties happen in a vacuum. As I decide these things in my mind, there is a wonderful God of Kindness to surround, carry, precede, follow, and fill me.

Many times this week I have found myself thinking, “what have I gotten myself into?” I am plagued by unimaginable happiness – terrified, overjoyed, and overwhelmed.

I know that I am heading for a harder but happier “happily ever after,” a better one than I could have written for myself.

 

God bless you all, and have a good weekend.

 

Sincerely,
Morgan Grace Hart

 

Link to Prayer Lake: http://www.prayerlake.org/

Scripture references:

For those who would like to learn about pursuing their own walk with Jesus, I recommend visiting peacewithgod.net.