encounter

In the deep spirit of a man the fire must glow or his love is not the true love of God. (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God).

Nothing of this tangible world–no possession, no deep and loving friendship, no sensual experience, no mood-altering substance, no religious pleasure–can comfort and fill the human heart with joy and delight like the presence of Jesus.

After many years, I have found that all my “spiritual stuff,” upon which I depended so heavily to bring me into wholeness and holy living, amounted to nothing but, as Paul wrote, a pile of dung. My pleading, my grasping, my agonized wrestling, my guilt, my shame, my repentance, my hopeful but ultimately vain promises to “do better”; the memories of these are seared across my soul; welts caused by the fiery brand of dead works.

But to be engulfed in the inferno that is the love and presence of the Triune God; to encounter it, even if but for a moment, kindles within me the light of truth and flame of holy passion. It alights my spirit and creates a desire for, and a delight in, the will and the ways of God. Encountering Him causes my heart to “burn within me.” Encountering Him burns away the hindering claw of the flesh and releases me to run with Him to the mountain of spices, where His fragrance perfumes the atmosphere and permeates the physical surroundings. I dance with hind’s feet, rejoicing with the Lover of my soul.

When I encounter Him, even for an instant, I want to follow and obey; I wish to lay down my life that He  would take it up and make of me what He will. I desire to forsake all for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus and dwelling near His noble and magnificent heart. I am connected to the Vine by His grace; I have but one desire and holy passion: that I may dwell in the house of YHVH all the days of my life, to behold His beauty and inquire in His temple.

I find my only true satisfaction and genuine knowledge of who I am by encountering the One who created me. By ravishing my heart, He makes me pure. So I cry:

Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth–
For Your love is better than wine….
Your name is ointment poured forth….
Draw me away!
I will run after You.

In humility, drenched in His love as with the morning dew, we follow even as we seek, we cry for more even as He satisfies us, we mourn even as we leap with joy. The “now and not yet” is in our hearts, the sure and present promise of His great glory within us and His inheritance of majesty shown now to the powers and principalities of this present age, with a destiny to proclaim throughout endless ages the majesty of His awesome beauty and His powerful work in us, His chosen beloved.

The rational minds of men and women cannot–and will not–grasp the beauty of this truth. Rebellious and relentless reasoning constantly batter us, strengthened by the pervasive clamor of our culture and the self-demonstrating world of our senses and the seductive, whispered lies of the infernal enemy of our souls; they conspire to cast us from the delights of the Garden: walking in the cool of the day, basking in innocent and free communion; and thrust us squalling and fighting our way into the tyranny of false godhood, enchanted by the siren call of pernicious, tower-building skepticism and the arrogant cynicism of the “knowledge of good and evil.”

In his search for a statement that could not be doubted, Descartes arrived at “I think; therefore I am.” So many believe that their own rational thoughts are the sum total of their explanation for existence. But our staggering, blistering hubris has led us to destruction and silenced the gentle whisper of the Voice within us. The power of the human mind, our fractured reasoning, without humility, has slaughtered love.

I choose instead:

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Just as intimacy between a man and woman produces a new human child, so intimacy with God produces a new creation, birthed in glory, swaddled in love–an extravagant reminder, once again, of His mercy, and an expression of hope that can change the world.

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