It has been a strange experience. All through the book, I’ve not known how to answer the usual questions: What’s it about? Are you enjoying it? Who’s your favorite character? There have been times I couldn’t wait to read the next bit, and other times I've wished it would go away and leave me alone, stop rocking my world and making me squirm. But the book, or the One speaking through it, has refused to let go. He has kept drawing me back into the story. It has mirrored, become, part of my story. I haven’t been able to distance myself from it enough to analyze or judge it; I haven’t been reading the book so much as it, or it’s Ghost-Writer, has been reading me. Reading my heart and His. Aloud. Together. He’s been holding up a mirror where I've glimpsed myself in one character after another, seen the places I’ve received His grace and the places I’m still turning away.
I’m learning it all over again. His invitation is always the same: come closer. It’s always welcome and gentleness and perfect love. But when I’m running away, when my heart is closed and hiding and full of shame, the Voice echoes differently. It’s as George MacDonald says of the drunken cabby who had just beaten His wife:
“And this misery was the voice of the great Love that had made him and his wife and the baby and [the little boy] Diamond, speaking in his heart, and telling him to be good. For that great Love speaks in the most wretched and dirty hearts; only the tone of its voice depends on the echoes of the place in which it sounds. On Mount Sinai, it was thunder; in the cabman’s heart it was misery; in the soul of St John it was perfect blessedness.” (At the Back of the North Wind, p. 156)
I see again the picture he gave some weeks ago of Himself, head thrown back in gentle, inviting laughter, hand extended to take mine. “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.” What if the first place he wants to take me when I take his hand is deeper into me? What if he knows that for me to hear His voice truly, we have to go together into the deepest caverns, open them wide and clear out the junk that distorts the love-echoes of His voice? Dare I go with Him even there?
I remember again the Song of Solomon, which by now is becoming familiar. It’s not all smooth sailing and passionate kisses. Though the story begins with the urgent desire of the beloved for her lover, it’s not long before she’s hiding from him, suggesting he go away until a more convenient time, then desperately longing and searching for the one she can no longer find. The larger movement into oneness is marked by the individual dance steps of push and pull, coming close and running away and coming close again.
I am so glad!
It comforts me when I face my messy heart once again. His love can handle this. No, more. His love is the reason I’m seeing the mess at all. It’s the being drawn closer that painfully stretches the cords which hold me back, away from Him. And where did I hear it said, that the closer one gets to the light, the sharper the shadows appear? Until, that is, the one approaching is so close to the light that the shadows disappear entirely in the consuming brilliance. The same love-light that reveals also heals, burning through cords and making pure. And though the process may be painful, it’s all part of entering - or being entered by - that great love that longs for union.
And yes, yes, I can trust this love.
Yes, Lord. Please take me deeper.
(By the way, that book I’ve been reading? It’s Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown. Don’t bother if you want to stand back and solve someone else’s mystery or critique someone else’s romance. But if you dare to let God hold a mirror up to your soul? If you dare to take His hand and let Him lead you deeper? Then pick up a copy and a journal and a box of Kleenex and get ready to discover Love pursuing you right into the middle of your mess.)