I didn’t expect Him to lead me out of one wilderness and into another.
When I asked Jesus to make me a mystic, I didn’t really think He would, or worse yet, could.
When I asked Jesus to make me a mystic, I didn’t think it would happen in such a long, no short, no long, no really, short time period.
When I asked Jesus to make me a mystic, I really had no idea what I was asking for at all.
A google search of the word “mystic” proves to be as nebulous and fuzzy as the term itself. Various sources report anything from a person who has an otherworldly experience to a person who dabbles in the occult. Some sources claim mysticism is achieved via intuition, while others seem to stand behind experience. Common Christian mystics throughout history have typically been monks, or others given to a strict monastic sort of lifestyle, people the likes of which include Julian of Norwich, St. Augustine, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Thomas a Kempis, and more. Meditation, self-denial, prayer, and pain are associated with the journey to mysticism.
In the throes of 2011, my carpe diem stage, when I prayed and asked God to make me a mystic, despite my hard heart, I actually blogged it here on Sept. 12:
After 6 months in the wilderness, this is my prayer. Plain and simple. It’s all I’ve got. Lord, make me a mystic. Lead me out of the desert. Forgive my sin.Cleanse my heart and make it new. Help me truly, fall in love with You.
Just a tad over a year later, I prayed another prayer on Sept. 24, one that lead me to where I am now: a girl who has actively seen the healing hand of God in her life, who has experienced His miracles, and who has come to believe in the impossible.
When heartbreak came knocking on my door this mid-October, prompted by events that began Sept. 25, after a period of blissful happiness and belief in dreams again, despair answered the bell, swallowed me whole, and left me gasping for breath on the floor. Past anger and bitterness, rage and self pity, I cried out to God, and I waited. I waited for Him to remove pain, to bring joy, to restore peace, to illuminate hope.
It seemed like I waited a lot longer than, in hindsight, I really did. And while I waited I prayed, I sat in my pain, I processed it, I wrote about it, I pondered it, and I begged God to give me a heart for Him beyond and above the pain and the loss and the fears. And on some days, some of my greatest pain came from the feeling that He never would remove the pain, the darkness, and the persistent aches. I heard people say to just “Trust God,” to “let Him show you His love,” and all these other Christian adages that sound nice in the abstract, but are absolutely devoid of semantic meaning when confronted with some tangible need for an explanation. What does it mean, I mean, really mean to “surrender to God,” to “want His will beyond your own”? I sure as hell did not know, but I began to pray that God would make His love for me so rich, real, and palpable that these abstractions would become concrete realities in my heart.
And I waited. And I read and reread and began to memorize Lamentations 3:18 – 33:
But this I recall and therefore I have hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him. The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s word]. It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke [of divine disciplinary dealings] in his youth. Let him sit alone uncomplaining and keeping silent [in hope], because [God] has laid [the yoke] upon him [for his benefit]. Let him put his mouth in the dust [in abject recognition of his unworthiness] — there may yet be hope. Let him give his cheek to the One Who smites him [even through his human agents]’ let him be filled [full] with [men’s] reproach [in meekness]. For the Lord will not cast off forever! But though He causes grief, yet will He be moved to compassion according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy. For He does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men.” -Amplified version
And I can honestly say, that the prayers and the clinging to Scripture and the intercession of others, while no doubt were of great effect, did not heal my heart until one day, Jesus just lifted it all. He took the pain, He took the dust and the wormwood and the gall and the ugly, and He cast it off instead of me. And it just took time. It took waiting. It took learning dependence, faith, trust, and hope. It took putting aside bitterness and anger. It took pain. It took the wilderness.
I wonder if this is how Hagar felt in the wilderness, when she learned her God is the God who sees. It took time, it took a journey. I wonder if this is how Joseph felt, when he labored in a prison cell, sold by his own brothers, but learned that what man meant for evil, God meant for good. I wonder if this is what Paul felt, when he endured the lashes and the stonings and the shipwrecks, but proclaimed that His power is made perfect in our weakness.
There is no understanding God’s love apart from His deliverance. Until you have that from which you must be delivered, I don’t doubt none of us can become a mystic. There is a deep saving that must happen, that must be felt in the soul. But, first, there must be a deep fall, a harrowing abyss, a tragic loss that necessitates the saving. There must be a wilderness.
But after that wilderness, oh what love. So now my prayer:
After 3 months in the darkness, and 6 weeks out, this is my prayer. Plain and simple. It’s all I ever want. Lord, keep me a mystic. Lead me in and out of deserts, only always remind me you are the God who sees, you are the God who redeems, you are the God who empowers. Forgive my unbelief. Thank you for making my heart new. Thank you for taking me painful places so that I could, truly, fall in love with You.