One morning last week, John and Jennifer asked me to come to her office to read their current blogs. So John sat on the floor while I read from Jen’s computer. First I read her blog, a response to John’s piece about her joy in service. ——– And I cried. Next I read John’s blog, which was a response to Jen’s testimony — they were being spurred on by each other! This time I sobbed and sobbed. They both looked puzzled. “You don’t like it?” But I couldn’t stop crying; my heart was so full. Finally I laughed and said, “Well, you convict me for hating to endlessly load and unload the dishwasher!”
But that was not really the reason for my sobbing. In a moment I could sweep over memories of both these courageous young people. I knew their process of coming to such lowly service in joy. It was a path of dying to dreams, preferences, freedoms . . . all for the sake of following the Lamb! Jennifer had been an account executive in Atlanta and let God reduce her to tasks that are daily tedious and unending in this solitary place of her home in the mountains. John was like the sons of thunder. “Immediately he left his boat and his father.” At Christ’s call, he ‘immediately’ left his business, his full Christian world, family and his own dreams of family.
Entering such fulfillment as a servant of Christ, they had paid an enormous price, hidden in God’s heart. (Jen always makes it a capital C in cross! I love it. She is one of the few who celebrate the wonder of the Cross and the joyful freedom it brings.)
Yet there was another level of my groans. It was awe and gratitude for what the Holy Spirit is doing among us. I have often said that for His children, God is fiercer about holiness than numbers and achievements. And He is doing a radical work of purification among us these days. I believe He wants to, and today is doing this work throughout the remnant that will die for Him. It is preparation for a coming glory, a glory God has promised to His flock. Glory in the presence of great darkness (Isa. 60:1-3)!
And these two servants are giving an intimate personal witness to the cost of discipleship and the exquisite joy of freedom through the cross. It is an enormous gift to the Body of Christ around the world!
There is coming an outpouring of the Spirit for the Last Days. The preparation for that great event is the Cross. And our “light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
George MacDonald says it best, in all his radical expression and profound understanding of God’s heart. The chastening is the love of God for us. The dying is our love for Christ!
Such is the mercy of God that He will hold His children in the consuming fire of His distance until they pay the uttermost farthing, until they drop the purse of selfishness with all the dross that is in it, and rush inside the center of the life-giving fire whose outer circles burn.
(George MacDonald, George MacDonald: An Anthology – 365 Readings, HarperCollins 2009, p. 106.)
So blessed a friend shared the Shulamite web site with me about 3 years ago! Thank you.
So thankful that the Lord introduced me to this Body – none of you cares that you sound spiritual or appear holy…just are who you are with no pretense and careful to give God the glory in all things–an inspiration. No wonder your heart was full, Martha–your ‘children’ have counted the cost and are following the Lamb.
Dearest Pauline, You capture the heart of God with us. It reveals your own heart as true. Thank you for piercing insight into the Real and the encouragement you always give us!
I agree. John & Jennifer your openness and willingness to share about your journey in death brings life to us all. Thank you!
I love you, Martha.
Opps…..Here’s the corrected Mayor translation. “He jealously yearns for the entire devotion of the heart.”
yes, yes, yes, yes … we are so lovingly held in our hiddenness … with no need to be heard, because we are known … no need to compete in the world because we are complete in Christ ….
sooo hugely appreciate your hearts …
James 4:5 (Mayor translation) says it for me, “He jealously desires the devotion of the whole heart.” Oh does He mean that! I had recently been talking with my husband about the cost of discipleship as I’ve seen it in John and Jennifer; and that conversation went on because of God’s fierce and loving and relentless pursuit in all of our lives. I am constantly encouraged, and ‘found out’, and stood on my feet again, and opened to further seeing the greatness of God by these blogs. And that is because they come from ‘real’ throbbing hearts, and lives that… Read more »
One of “your” podcasts, Jennifer, was one of the very first I ever listened to, and it made me immediately stick to this ministry. I thought, “I want to go with people who are THAT true!”
That all of you are ready to share, without a hiding place, all your ups and downs, your sufferings, struggles and grieves as well as your getting up again,your revelations, your resurrections is a blessing beyond words!
Thank you for sharing the fruit of this body of Christ with us.