Monday, April 7, 2014

Taste and See!

In all sincerity she implored, "Don't worship the experience Elaine because then you'll demand more and more experiences.  Live in the truth that He is who He says He is and you are who He says you are.  Otherwise you'll grow discontent and seek the experience, not the Giver.  You will end up questioning God's reality rather than questioning your experience, your own dustiness."

How many times have I heard this? Too many to count.  This one came from a beloved friend at Pine Cove Family Camp.  The last person I'd expect.  And I felt a curtain fall down on my soul.  My heart wanted to push away from the table.  Maybe from the relationship.  I have to be careful.  Do you ever struggle with receiving feedback?  I need friends to be "disruptively honest" as Jesus was (Eldredge's Beautiful Outlaw).  Lord help me keep my ears open.  I pondered her ideas like a lemon drop in my mouth, gently pulling flavors out and was about to swallow when the drop turned into licorice.  I hate licorice. So I spit it out.

Abba, How do I separate You from my experience?? I find You in my experience!  I experience You as a Giver.  I know you as good.  You are my Source--from distant streams that never run dry.  To know You, to be in Your presence is to experience You.  Is she afraid to get you wrong?  She seems more convinced of her failings, her ability to miss You, than she is of your Spirit inside.  Is she suggesting I could pursue You apart from an experience?  Seems like then I'd only be receiving knowledge.  Propped up.  Puffed up.  Outside of me.  Plastic. 

I guess if by "experience" she means Christian rock concerts, mountain top retreats, even refreshing family camps, then experience becomes a noun, a place, an event.  I actually consulted Webster for his definition.  "Experience" the noun means to try, to put to the test, to prove, and anything personally observed or lived through.  Is 'experience the noun' something I attend where I'm demanding God show up?  I guess I could put Him to the test and He might fail and stay home that day.  Hmmm, then I'd be disappointed, discontent.  So the lie goes, "Elaine don't expect Him to show up and you won't be disappointed.  Or be careful trusting the Road Adventure, the Captivating retreat, or the St. John the Divine prayer time.  These could simply be emotional highs that won't carry you when the curtains fall in your life. Those nasty feelings.  They'll take you right off a cliff.  Trust the dry, crusty truth.  Who wants to wake up the dusty aching longings of the past?  Those giants are too big to tame."  I hear the accuser sneer, 'you know you can't trust yourself or anyone else for that matter.'

And yet Daddy God you reveal this mystery to me that Jesus in me is my assurance of glory (Col.1:27). Glory--your Presence within, your favor, your shining, your value, your beauty, mingling in oneness with my own!  To be with You is to be touched. Felt. Known. Heard--experienced. Lived. From the inside.  Not an outside event.  "Taste and see that I am good," you shout (Ps. 34:8).  Or do you whisper?  Sounds like Truth to be taken in--sensed.  Sounds like experience.  Raw, wrestling, bumpy, tart, soft, loud, raspy, wet experience.  Blackberries in summer.

Webster continues "experience in verb form means to undergo, to feel, to meet with, to endure, to encounter."  Phew.  Sigh of relief.  I can live in this verb.  "In Me you live and move and have your very being," You remind me (Acts 17:28).  Can a fish not experience the water?  So I choose to encounter and meet with the entire outrageously lavish Trinity every day.  Where love is a verb.  Where experience is an every day encounter.  One that intertwines with my soul.  As we dance, we impact each other.  He takes me in and I take Him in.  "I AM the Truth," juicy and full of flavor.  A person, not just a set of ideas.

As I was wrestling with this, He spoke, "Take Me in Elaine, like rich, dark chocolate and fresh lilacs.  Breathe Me in--receive Me as I have received you.  I receive you like fragrant  incense.  Your prayers tickle my nose.  To be with you is to experience you.  Your affections fill My throneroom like alabaster oil.  I continully give you immense love, wild freedom, and bubbling joy.  My eyes open wide and light up when you peek out from behind the veils still lingering in your soul.  A longing fulfilled indeed is sweet to your soul (Proverbs 13:19).  I truly desire to fulfill every one of your longings.  Did you know My name means 'to fulfill'?  I've hidden myself in this verse."

Sure enough, I looked up the verse and word "fulfill" in my Key Word study Bible, and the word for "fulfill" in the Hebrew is "hayah" (Strong's #1961).  The editors' commentary states, "the key to the meaning of the name Yahweh is found in this verb."  Again Websters' defines "to fulfill" as "to fill to the full, to carry out something desired."  Then Yahweh fill me! to the full!  I desire to feel, to know Your desires.  To burn from the inside with Your fire.  The Message paraphrases Proverbs 13:19 as "souls who follow their hearts thrive; fools bent on evil despise matters of soul."  Then would it be snarky of me to say to my critics, don't worship your lack of experience?  I plead for you not to settle for mere words about Jesus.  Eldredge in Beautiful Outlaw explains mere words about Jesus are useless if they don't point to an experience of Jesus.  Jesus himself challenged the Pharisees saying, "You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there.  But you miss the forest for the trees.  These scriptures are all about me!  And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want" (MSG Jn. 5:39). 

Funny how Abba speaks.  Driving home from gymnastics today with my ten year old daughter, she'd been given a lollipop as a reward for hard work (and why are we getting exercise?!).  After a few licks of this red heart shaped confection, she shoved it into our trash cup declaring, "I can't eat plastic candy Mom."  Neither can I, Savannah.  Neither can I.  Follow your heart sweet child.  Your longings will take you right into the throneroom filled with pungent perfume, soft delicate orchids, and luscious strawberries.  Take and eat!

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