“You would give up nothing.”

The great mystics longed for union with God.  I did not.  It sounded scary to me.  I would have to give up my individual self, of which I was fond, and lose myself in the ocean of divine being.  Why would I want to do that?

In his spiritual memoir, Sabbatical Journey, Henri J. M. Nouwen talks about his friends, the Flying Rodleighs.  The editor explains:  “Much of Henri’s attraction to the trapeze performance had to do with the special relationship between the flyer and the catcher.  The daredevil flyer swinging high above the crowd lets go of the trapeze to simply stretch out his arms and wait to feel the strong hands of the catcher pluck him out of the air.  ‘The flyer must never catch the catcher,’ Rodleigh had told him.  ‘He must wait in absolute trust.’  For Nouwen, this was the life of true faith.”

If the Flying Rodleighs were the model of true faith, I fell short.  “Lord, I can’t be like the trapeze artist and throw myself totally into Your hands, into You.”

You do not understand.  You would give up nothing and gain everything.  Nothing will ever destroy Jerry Martin, the person you are.  I will save and keep you next to Me forever.

“But does that mean my individual personality?”

It means your Soul—which has a kind of personality, though it is not identical to the personality you have in this life.  But it is not as if souls were all the same, like hydrogen atoms.  You have your own “character” and “fate” and these will endure.  In fact, union with Me will fulfill them.

So my “Soul” would last but the rest of me would be swallowed up in the divine vastness?  Thanks but no thanks.


2 thoughts on ““You would give up nothing.”

  1. Jenny Reply

    I had an experience the winter before last that I believe relates to this chapter. The winter before last, I was caught up in a kind of longing for God that was so intense that I felt it like physical cramps. Once, I had to stop what I was doing and kneel down and let the longing flow through me before I could go on doing whatever I was trying to do.

    One night this longing was just kept washing over me. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t rest. I didn’t even know what I wanted to ask for, really. I cried out, in my spirit, “Jesus! Jesus!” It felt very powerful, my inner voice, and for a moment, the longing subsided.

    Then it returned, worse than before. And without even thinking about it, I cried out, “Father! Father!” which sometimes still gives me chills to remember. I usually never relate to God as father, though I know He is- that it’s one of the ways He relates to us. I was raised in a religiously abusive environment and the idea of God the Father is still associated in my mind with cold fury, demands, scorn and bloodshed.

    But when I called out His name as Father in that moment, all that past association were simply gone, and I felt this kind of holy awe sweep over me, like goosebumps. It was something close to fear, only there was no dread.

    Then something very odd happened. I knew two things at once, and this knowing of two things continued through the entire experience. I knew that I as in my bed, with my cheek against the sheet, and that I was staring at the blinds in the dim light, next to my sleeping husband.

    But I knew that I was caught up in this force of living water that was sweeping through my entire self. The force of it was extraordinary, like this suge of life itself, and I was completely submerged in it and it was flowing through me to God and back to me, like a closed circuit, but I also knew that the living water itself was God.

    Furthermore, as the experience deepened, or continued, my understanding opened up into it and it did so in a way that was so natural that I did not even notice it until later, when I was thinking back on it.

    These were the things which I understood. The first thing was that God loved me and knew me absolutely, through and through. I can’t even describe the degree to which I was known; it was complete. There was nothing to explain to Him; He knew it all and loved me completely.

    The second thing I knew was that my mortal life did not define me, and it was incredibly brief; just a few moments of time, in comparison to the greater Life that surrounds and upholds the mortal life.

    What defined me and held me was God Himself. He was my Source and my End. He was everything that I longed for and everything that I was, came from Him.

    Also, I understood that the Father’s will was absolute, but this did not frighten me, because He was Love. So, the fact that His plan and purpose always come to fruition was not just the ground on which my being stood- which it was- but it was the most joyous, wonderful and relieving thing to recognize.

    Lastly, I knew that my mortal life was created just for me- it was tailored exactly to who I was and given to me like a gift. I felt warm attraction to my mortal life, despite the suffering and the longing and the lack of clear sight. I didn’t mind, because I knew that it would last only moments, really, in the greater picture and that I would grow incredibly- my spirit or soul would deepen through those lessons. And I wanted to learn, to learn as much as I could, with the gift of my mortal life, knowing that my true self was always safe in God.

    Then, I was simply lying on my bed, still with my cheek against the sheet. I was in a kind of spiritual shock for a few days afterward and I felt the loving presence of God very close to me all that time. I cried often, from the longing, which took a long time to abate.

    I’ve had experiences since then that have illustrated a tiny piece of the vastness of the Divine, and it is frightening. It’s like hanging in the cosmos, with the lighted darkness stretching out in every direction into infinity. But every part of Him is Love and He also delights to make Himself very small, to fully identify with us in our humanity- because He also put on humanity and suffered with us the limitations and the hurts of this present life.

    We can’t ever really lose ourselves in Him, because we can’t exist apart from Him in the first place. He’s what’s holding us together, the loving thought and desire that brought us forth and that receives us, and teaches us and loves us, and suffers with us.

    1. Jerry L Martin Reply

      Jenny, to the outsider, spiritual experiences often just sound like pure emotionality. No matter how “deep,” people say, they are still just feelings. They tell us nothing outside reality outside your own subjectivity. But, as your story perfectly demonstrates, latent in that deep flow of experience is insight. As you put it, “my understanding opened up into it.” You can sense the undeniable presence of God, and understand that “every part of Him is Love” and that “He’s what’s holding us together.” We and God are in this intense relationship that permits instant communication, when we are open to it and recognize it for what it is. As always, your experience is a vivid reminder of that fact.

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