Sunday, April 17, 2011

The second recurring picture

If my room is the place where I meet Christ in times when I want to be close to Him, then my view of Heaven is where I go to worship.

To me, Heaven is something I need to be able to picture. I know that I'm not even close on the details and flat wrong on many, many things. But to me that's less important than what I do when I'm there. And to do that, my limited mind needs a framework.

There is, of course, the throne of God. Seated on His right is Jesus. (That's my left - I can't tell you how many years I couldn't figure that one out. Yes, I'm right-left challenged.) On His left is the Holy Spirit. What does God look like? That one changes from moment to moment, sometimes right before my eyes. The one thing that never changes about God: He always has a lap.

Jesus is the same as He is in my room. And the Holy Spirit - He's an ever-changing, colorful cloud-ish gaseous being. Maybe that's because I've not put a lot of thought in that aspect of God. But it works for now.

Behind God are the 4 living creatures and the elders. In my mind's eye, the 4 living creatures are how Madeleine L'Engle described Progo - all wings and eyes. Somewhere I have a drawing I created that looked exactly like that in an abstract way. If I find it, I'll upload it. The elders are people.

And filling - over-filling - the entire place are my brothers and sisters - people from every place on earth, every time, in every color. But honestly, I hardly notice them.

My picture of heaven got an upgrade in church today. In the past, it's always been flat - almost as far as the eye can see. But today it became an amphitheater with God as the center of attention.

At the top of the amphitheater - around the back edge - are columns. They have bases that are wide and square and stand up about 3 feet tall. And that's where you'll find me most of the time - hanging out by the columns. In heaven I'm always a child so being able to stand on the bases of the columns is a good thing.

Imagine it. Imagine being able to worship with people from around the world. Have you ever stopped to listen to the people around you at your church worshiping God? I've been overwhelmed by the sound myself. No imagine that multiplied a hundred, a thousand, a million times. I can't wait.

So I mentioned that I'm a child. Specifically it's a cross between a picture I have of myself at about 4 looking for easter eggs with my mom and the fairy sitting on the lap of the old man that I got at the Portland Saturday Market several years ago. It's me uninhibited, without the expectations and restraints I've grown into over the years. And as a child, I'm free to worship with all of me.

Sometimes I bow. Sometimes I stretch on my tippie toes and sing my lungs out. Sometimes I fly a dance. Sometimes I dive on to Papa's lap and cuddle up. Me and Him. Him and me. It's all about Him and not about me. That's worship. That's heaven in my mind's eye.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Meeting Jesus

In my first post I took a lot of time to describe the room where I meet Jesus in detail. But the point of that exercise is not just to have the room; it is to have a mental place where I am comfortable meeting my Savior any time.

If I were to close my eyes right now, I could be in my room in a split second. This morning when I do that Jesus is waiting for me, standing with his arms outstretched right inside the door. I'm happy to be there with no particular need or something weighing me down. In fact, I could see us whirling around like a couple little kids on the playground. Remember those times when you crossed hands, held on tight, leaned back, and started turning? There are times when I enter the room full of life.

On other days when I've felt great, there have been a couple palominos waiting and we've gone for a long ride, our hair flowing in the wind (and it never gets tangled, either!). There are times when I enter the room full of joy.

I can't begin to tell you the number of times when I've desperately needed the love only Jesus could give. Outwardly, I'm holding myself together fairly well. Inside, I'm a mess. When I see Jesus, I don't need to explain what's going on or worry that if I reveal myself fully to him that I will be rejected in some way. He knows me completely despite my best efforts to hide. On those occasions, more often than not I sit surround by His arms on the hearth. If it's particularly bad, I turn sideways, lean into His shoulder, and sob. There are times when I enter the room broken.

In the fast pace life that most Americans live, rest is often something that goes by the wayside. If I don't have time to take a nap but do have time to close my eyes for a moment or two, I spend that time in the room curled up on the couch with my head in Jesus' lap. He strokes my hair and that moment of peace usually restores me more than I would have though possible. There are times when I enter the room exhausted.

There's more, of course. Times when I'm confronting sin, when I need to think, when I'm restless. But my hope in sharing this is this: Maybe you, too, can understand that the God you love and serve loves you and loves to meet your needs right where you are. If not, you've got the wrong god. I have come to depend on Jesus for my emotional needs. In this I'm hardly perfect and often forget that I can meet Him whenever and wherever. When I do remember, though, I tend to remember more often. I love the way it feels.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The first recurring picture

Once a long time ago my mom read a book to our family called Discovering How to Pray by Hope McDonald. In the chapter called "Find a Quiet Place" she describes a process where you create a place in your mind to which you can retreat to meet with God. It's a concept that caught my attention and has been with me for over 25 years now.

The room I created in my mind has evolved over time, but I'm constantly surprised that the things I imagined as a kid have held true over time.

My room is a stand-alone building in the middle of forever green rolling meadows. Regardless of the wind and rain that are a common theme in Oregon, I can close my eyes and find myself bathed in sunlight. Small pastel flowers are scattered in the grass and on the back side of the room stands a massive oak tree - except for the times when I'm feeling a bit down and the oak becomes a willow tree.

Walk with me inside.

The entire front of the room is leadded glass with grand french doors set in the center. The ceiling must be about 20 feet high - in any case it's high enough that I never feel it's presence at all. And, with a recent adaptation of the dining hall at Hogwarts, it reflects the bright and gentle light of God at all times.

To your right join me on the deep harth at waist height of the river rock fireplace that covers the entire wall. The rocks are guaranteed never to be uncomfortable. And if you feel the need to be completely comfy, grab one of the massive royal blue or kelly green pillows resting at each end of the hearth.

In the center of the room are two overstuffed chairs and a couch made from pine logs and fluffy off-white cushons. (In the 80's it was peach and gray - that's one of the things that's changed). Sit down and burry your feet in the exceedingly soft carpet at your feet. The color changes every time I'm there, but it's always soft and inviting. Honestly, I spend more time on the hearth than I do on the furniture.

The left wall is covered in cherry book cases. On them you'll find every book I've ever read which has sometimes kept me from reading things that aren't worth sharing with my God. In the middle of the book cases is a writing desk and a chair from my dining set - with the needlepoint seats that my grandmother made. It holds a brushed nickle desk lamp with a flared shade that matches the couch and a stack of parchment paper and my favorite pen. Somehow, despite the presence of technology in every aspect of my life, it's never present in this room.

Another addition to my room several years ago is a series of old-style library-style card catalog drawers. I read a piece somewhere a long time ago about God seeing every sin of a person's life written on a card and how Jesus comes by and forgives them and removes them from the drawer. It's something that resonated with me at the time and it's never left, though I don't get into them much any more.

The back wall of my room is a massive picture window that looks out on the oak/willow tree.

I hope this look inside my head helps you create a place for you where you can meet Jesus any time you need Him. More on that in the next post.