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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When You're Ninety Percent in Deep Water

I pat heads and hug necks. I rub soothe into shoulders and stroke hair tangled by tears. And pray. Sometimes silently and sometimes not because sometimes someone is over ninety percent in some deep water and the remaining ten percent is bobbing like the tip of an iceberg just trying to breathe without pitching under. But God? He  hugs the heart and soothes the being. He prays and His words reach soul-bone and spirit-marrow. His words reach depths far deeper than ninety percent of anything and everything. His reach is one-hundred percent of His depth and requires not a shave more. 

He keeps my head up.

He keeps me from going under.

He liberates me till my captivity isn't ninety percent in deep water, but one-hundred percent in Him. 

He tips me into His depths till I'm captivated by freedom. "I declare this about You, Lord," I say and it's Psalm Ninety-One I proclaim; not my own proclamation. 

His depth is shelter wild.

I think about Adam and Eve sheltered in the garden of Eden. I wonder where God led them as they walked with Him in the cool of the morning. Did He take them to the rivers Pishon, and Haddakel, Gihon, and Euphrates? I used to know what the names of these rivers meant. I've forgotten, but I've got google. I look them up. 

Pishon means, "Freely Flowing." I wonder if they stopped to sit and quietly talk while absentmindedly fingering the grass and tiny wild flowers on the banks of the Pishon River. Did the three of them recline on the fragrant soft earth? Did the conversation flow as freely as river flow, and as the River of Life flows right out from the throne of God Himself? Did He surf the River of Life just for fun and land on the banks of the Pishon to walk with the man and the woman He made?

I wonder if they laughed and ran alongside the Haddakel river as if to race the rapids? Yeah, Haddakel means, "Rapids." 

 And what was the mood when walking with God by the Gihon? Maybe joyful? Maybe the kind of joy that bursts forth just clearest from the bottom of the heart kind of laughter plash as Gihon means "Bursting Forth."

And the Euphrates, "That Which Makes Fruitful." Man, woman, and God. Was there a more fruitful threesome on this earth? Surely the man and his woman would partake with no shame of the sweetest fruit God gave to them alone to taste. And what about the fruit of God's Spirit? Isn't He the One who makes fruitful even now, so far removed from the Garden of Eden? He is. And aren't man, his woman, and God still the most fruitful threesome this earth can know? I think so.


By the River

I wonder to God, "Did the man and his woman ever ask You what was on the other side of the rivers? Or were they so freely and joyfully consumed by Your presence and the life they lived within the river boundaries whose names describe Your name that they never thought to question?"

"The serpent hissed." He need say nothing more.

"Why do the whispered suggestions get to us so?" The question may bob just above water, but the answer plumbs depths of holiness. For there is holy whisper that silences any other whisper and the thing is that the only One who never fell is the only begotten Son of God. 

 The thought stops me. Angels fell. Lucifer, the most luminescent angel, fell and became the most ugly snake that ever was. He was a walking snake and maybe since then snakes have been shown some mercy because they glide now. Or maybe the mercy's been shown to the likes of me because I just cannot, cannot imagine a walking, talking snake in the tomato bed.

 Well, God made man a little lower than the angels and that says a lot. "So," I venture, "what did You mean when you said, "It is good" every time You made something; including man? And what about when You said, "It is not good" when man didn't have his mate, and then "It is good" once You brought forth woman?"

 I'm thinking His definition of the goodness of His work is based on nothing but His plan, which is perfect. That the definition of His goodness is based on His perfectness. Could it be that, "It is good" meant far more than the goodness of all He created? That it meant, "All this good is for the sake of My plan"? 

 Maybe His plan is far larger than man and woman never bending an ear to the unholy whisper, or never falling into sin. Maybe the fall is actually part of His perfect plan because wasn't the plan always for redemption and salvation? For hope that He alone can fulfill? And how can such a plan be completed if creation and we ourselves, have no need of it? 

 I don't know, but I do know that the fall was of glacial proportions and splitting and that the echo of it still rumbles through pages of scripture that I plumb till I'm over ninety percent submerged in the word and wanting more.  I hope toward the Day when, Lord willing, I'll be one-hundred percent submerged in the depths of heaven's heights just freest within the boundaries of the depth and height of His perfect plan. 

 His perfect plan is freedom and boundary. I long to plumb it, and be buoyed by it, at the same time. 

I trust this holy wild. I do. But I have questions and some of them sort of bob at the surface kind of like the tip of an iceberg. 

 How do I love the heavenly One while I'm still just so clay? I wonder to myself while I pat heads and give hugs and murmur empathy just so warm, "There, there; it'll be okay." I say it as I stand on feet of clay in my own wilderness because I am, you see, still in this body on this earth hoping that something of the presence of the God I'm making my home in will land on the heads I pat and enfold the necks I hug and maybe His home address will  be whispered in the ears I murmur comfort into.

 But He murmurs Psalm ninety-one against my ear, "Do not dread the disease that stalks, nor the disaster that strikes." 

 I think about the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. 

 "These evils will not touch you," he continues the Psalm and I have to think that God is a realist but sometimes what He says seems removed from earth-bound realities. 

 "What do You mean, 'These evils will not touch you?'" I ask because Eve touched the fruit. Then picked it. Then tasted it. Then swallowed it; and every blood-pumping heart, and reasoning soul, and cellular fabric of strength has been stalked and stricken since. 

 And now the Garden is guarded. And now on this side of Eden wall there are slums and open sewers, and gangs, ghettos, disease that stalks in the darkness, and disaster that strikes at midday, and danger breaks in at night and a sunny day is hungry for light. 

 "Does Psalm Ninety-One dare to pre-script, prescribe even, the very words Satan himself would use to tempt the Son of God in the wilderness?" It's a tip of the iceberg kind of question that answers deep. God is silent while I just bob for answers.

 "Is the way, within the boundaries not of Eden but of wilderness, prescribed to and by the perfect begotten Son of God the same prescription against the touch of evil?" All I know is what the word says. "Do not dread." And how Jesus answered the script. "It is written."

Do not dread what befalls in the wilderness, because Jesus didn't dread, and didn't fall, in the wilderness. 

 Do not dread because, well, wasn't it good that the perfect Son of God was tempted in every way we are? And that in God's strange sovereignty, the deeming of "It is good" is the champion of what is redeeming? Of what is perfect plan of God? 

 Do not dread, because the celebrated and the dreadful doesn't revolve around me as if I were the center of the universe. 

 Do not dread because, yeah, creation and man are not the center of the universe.

 Maybe the slap-slosh is the knock-knock on the door of the deep and doesn't deep call to deep like this? Doesn't a deep knock on the door of the deep call forth more deep?  

 Do not dread the icy wild. 

 Do not dread the restrictive pressure and kick against it to be free, because freedom is in the depths of God.



 Well, I'm a warm water gal adverse to water temperature below body temperature. Was I not formed within the watery boundary and press of womb? And maybe I kicked, but that's not the pressure that delivered me into this wild, and kicking all dread doesn't deliver me into the depths of the Living Water, a holy wild to be sure. 

 In flesh womb, God made Jesus in flesh. Surely God said, "It is good."

 His head crowned, and Mary felt it sear hot ice when the King of kings was born. 

 His head was crowned, and the crowning seared hot and pain chills goosebumped down His body and the King of the Jews was crucified. 

 When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, did it feel like a knife twisting when Satan wielded the sword of the Spirit, that sharp word of God, against Him? 

 "You were touched, but not conquered." I see this. 

 "It's impossible, isn't it," I ask, "to be conquered by evil when sheltered in Your depths?"

 "Make Me your shelter; no evil will conquer you," He answers. "No plague will come near your home," He continues from Psalm Ninety-One because that's the conversation we're having.

 I have to think that God is a realist. He sees real and His answers to reality aren't "There, there, chin up; it'll be alright" accompanied by a pat on the head kind of answers. No, His answers are one-hundred percent kind of answers.

 "I have made You my home; but  I'm still bobbing a bit on the surface of the depths" I say this because really, He is so big that I wonder if I've stepped much past the front door of Him.

 "You entered my gates with thanksgiving in your heart, when you were most grieved," He reminds me of how I've been making Him my home, and we pick up the Psalm Ninety-One conversation again. 

 "I chose." I did. I chose because sometimes the heart can't take one more flogging. 

 "The flogged either fight or forgive," and the One who forgave from the cross knows this best. 

 "I entered Your courts with praise," I continue His line of thought. And I did praise. I do praise. Isn't forgiveness to praise what His gates are to His courts? 

 "Enter forgiveness and step into praise," He puts it together for me, and I realize something. I'm not standing just right inside the front door anymore.

Is He smiling? Because I am. It's a happy realization. "God?"

 "Yeah?" His voice is real low. He shares the happy quiet with me alone.

 "I used to be plagued by nighttime fears and noonday destruction. I used to stub the toes of my soul till it throbbed. And I used to feel snake bitten and prowled," I talk to Him  right off the Psalm Ninety-One scripture page I'm on. "I used to but, God?"

 "Yeah?" He's reading His word over my shoulder.

 "I don't anymore! I've chosen; I choose even now and I will say of You, 'He is my refuge, my fortress, my God, my dwelling place, my home.'"

 "No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling." I don't understand everything He says, but the further I move beyond the front door of Him, and the deeper I plumb the depths with questions that bob at the surface, the more I understand. 

 Are His eyes moist with joy? Because mine are. 

 "You are my dwelling. No evil shall befall me" I get this part. There's a lion who still prowls, and a serpent who still tries to bite venomous, but I'm not felled anymore. Not be-fallen. Because I've made Him my home and I'm getting settled in. oh, I've brought some baggage with me that I don't need, but that's getting sorted out. 

 "God?" I'm ready to ask, "What about the 'Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling' part; but something happens. He speaks!

 "Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling, for I shall give My angels charge over you;" says He. 

 And my complaint, "What on earth are You talking about" leaves me because, truthfully, I am plagued with this and that but my dwelling is in my God; and though my outer body is wasting away all mortal, my inner being is being renewed day by day and I am more in earnest about what He says than about what I think I see, and the more earnest I am, the clearer I see what in heaven's name on earth He's talking about; and yeah this is a run-on sentence because my earnestness doesn't know what a period is.

 "Make Me your home." I hear what He's saying. I'm making the adjustments I need to make to settle in. It's earth-bound reality, heaven-bound hope, for the likes of me who digs through holy word with hands of clay. 

 Evil flogged Him to the bone, but did not fell Him. His angels were given charge over Him, and His own love befell Him. And fell on me. And His love fells me, not death or grave or hell. 

 I fall into His love and His love is the wind at my back. 

"Can you see the wind?" He helps me find words for my hope.

 "No," I can't see the wind. "But I remember," I begin.

 "Do you remember," our speech overlaps and we yield together, "You first!"

 "The wind? When I was a little girl?" I know what He's reminding me of.

 "At Portage Glacier," He affirms.

 I exclaim remembrance, "I haven't thought of that in years!"

 Portage Glacier. We went to Portage Glacier when I was but a sliver of a girl with dark hair and toothless gappy smile and sometimes the wind was so strong I could lay back on it in defiance of gravity.

 "I am the wind at your back. Lean like that onto Me," my wild Shelter answers; and "portage" means "the cost of carrying." 

 The lyrics, "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross," comes to mind as I lean on Him. I can't see Him, but to me He's the wild steady Alaska wind stronger than gravity,

"When you make the Most High your portage no plague will come near your home." It's how I read Psalm 91:9-10.

 I would read later, in Psalm Twenty-Six, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house."

 And I would write in the margin, "I love living in Your house, wild Shelter."


 written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig





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