About Evelyn Mason

Evelyn Mason (Il Voce) enjoys connecting with people through written word and face-to-face interaction, creating a fun and welcoming environment wherever she goes. She is exploring healing and empowering through women’s self-defense — overcoming past trauma and PTSD, and learning how to live strong.

Just One More

cream casket pink flowers

Such a hard, sad day.

The man stood at the lectern and read the letters the daughters had written. Then he read the husband’s and there was one central theme…

Her husband wanted just one more. One more hug. One more kiss. One more squeeze of the hand, one more fond gaze, one more time to hear her deep belly laugh. He wanted her. He wanted to be with his best friend again, even for just one more moment.

But she slipped away from him early that Sunday morning, unexpected, one moment saying she wasn’t feeling well… then gone before the paramedics could even open their bags.

Just one more.

And as I sat there in the funeral home, a dozen rows back, behind family and so many friends, I felt a surge growing in me. For as with any and every funeral I’ve ever attended — and much more as I grow older — I realize it’s just as the ones who loved them best say: You never know when you’ll be called to leave your body behind and enter eternity. And eternity is forever, whether in Heaven or in Hell.

butterfly on flower

So again it fills me to make sure those around me know, at least as far as I can show and tell them…

Tell them
Love them,
Set self ever aside, tending to
Them, loving – knowing I am
Cared for but they —
They need to know what I know:
Life never ends
Love doesn’t die;
There is one path, a
Single door, a
Narrow way.

But the Door stands wide open, the
Path bright lit, the
Way a Truth, a Life, a
Man, the one and only
Son of Man, the God-Man, and you
Know His name, His name, you know
You’ve known all your life really, that
One name that changes everything:
Jesus.

Fierce kind, not safe, no, but comforting
Life spark, blaze flame, everlasting
Love.

And when we take Him into our deepest
Place, death dies and we can’t help
But live, for death then is only
A shaking off, a dropping off
Soul springing free into forever
Spirit sunshine.

For He, this Jesus, embodies it, thin skin covers
Blaze unquenchable and I couldn’t even
Raise my eyes but He tilts my
Chin and I smile through wet eyes into bearably
Dimmed but never diminished gentle
Blaze tempered, burgeoning because love
Escapes, gushes, knocks me down to
Rise again and I gulp in the
Light, quivering as death’s
Ice fingers curl away, slip slide
Off, can’t find purchase on deathless
Life and I jump
Alive! Laugh with my bright
Big bearded Brother.

small and larger butterfly in clouds

How can I tell them? Is there a way I can impart my freedom to those who sit there with me, wiping tears, knowing she’s everywhere here but nowhere close? How can I tell those boys I rarely see except for times like these, their Mimi’s one desire is to see them laugh into her arms up there? I bow, gaze at empty helpless hands and know I don’t have to do anything for them — she already sowed in them seeds watered by her absence and their own tears today. I see strangers all around, my own mother seated next to me, all of us somewhere in death’s queue, waiting our turn to be the one in the beautiful box, the one the man at the lectern is talking about.

And I realize as I stand and gather my things at the end, what I can do is love well those left behind. I can look into their anguished eyes and give them the hug they need. I can write the letter later telling them how much their mother, his wife, meant to me. I can lift them to the Father when their teary faces shimmer in my mind.

I can look past my own busy pod life to the concentric circles around me: neighbors, acquaintances, friends, closest friends, inner circle, best best friend… and ask Father, What about them? Am I doing your work for me on their behalf? I bow my head and for the sake of the sweet lady whose laugh I’ll not hear till Heaven, I ask, again, Father who can I love today with your love? Who can I tell of your goodness? Who can I draw closer to you today?

So while I stand empty handed at death’s crushing blow, wishing for one more visit, one more deep talk, one more hand-crafted meal and just to sit and do nothing with her… I can love just one more person today. In her honor and in honor of those who have gone before, all for the glory of God and for filling His house with countless redeemed souls. And on the day I enter the gates she and so many I love joyfully entered before me, I will look for her. I will hear her laugh and follow the sound till I get another big, loving Gail hug. Oh, happy day!

little girl releasing butterfly

This Brain of Mine

black bunny white mask

I am learning to accept my brain. Ah, that cranium filler has had its share of adventures, and in the 51 years I’ve been living with it, I’ve mostly been rather hard on it.

Why?

Comparison (rarely favorable).
Expectation (often unreasonable).
And reasons I have yet to discover.

When I was a little girl I’d run and dance and sing basically everywhere I went. I was joyful, so happy being me. A favorite memory was when my mom asked me to take out the compost. Weird? Maybe, but I had a little routine I always followed, and since I got to take the compost out almost daily (our container was small and we really like fresh fruit and veggies), it’s a deep and happy memory to pull out.

little blonde girl swinging on swing

My childhood mind was so happy and free!

I’d trot out the back door, down the steps, past the little garden and the swing set, almost to the back fence, stop and sniff a pink rose on the rosebush near the compost pile. I’d fling the compost from the container, then skip back… Plopping the container by the swings, I’d sit on the seat and pump to the trees (pointing my toes at the willow branches). I’d sing old hymns at the top of my lungs (like all three verses of “Redeemed” from the green hymnbook at church), then the Alphabet Song. I’d slow down and hop off, grab the container and back to the kitchen I’d go.

I was so, so happy. But first grade I had Mrs. Stambaugh and she couldn’t stand my constant jabbering in class. Really she wasn’t unreasonable telling me to stop talking to Debbie Erlingston, my best school friend, that day. She even moved us apart, but within seconds I snuck back to Debbie’s side. Well she had it at that point. I got yelled at and brought to the front of the room, where she spanked me in front of everyone.

downward spiral

Just like that, everything inside changed…

I lost my voice that day. My brain told me if I just stayed quiet I wouldn’t get in trouble. That messing with teachers leads to humiliation.

I didn’t know why (I was too young when it happened to understand the resulting trail of fear) — but in school I barely spoke to anyone, and was terrified to talk to even the kindest teachers. When I stood outside my college adviser’s door one afternoon, belly clenched in fear, almost hyperventilating, I finally ventured a prayer before walking in… “Why am I so afraid of teachers? Of this adviser who is so kind?” Immediately I was again standing in front of all those first graders, receiving swat after swat on my rear end.

And I was both mad and scared at this revelation. What is the power of this thing holding me captive all these years later, steals my joy, and makes me tiptoe through a life I’m supposed to grab and enjoy? My mind had stored the footage and now I knew if I was going to walk in some sort of freedom I had to look at it and do some forgiving.

My mind had made all public authority figures, and usually my parents, terrifying because of one teacher on one day, in a span of maybe 10 minutes. I’m learning that traumas are like that.

I did my best to forgive Mrs. Stambaugh and get on with my life but found that ugly footage popping back into my head when I was praying during Bible Study some 20 years after my terror in the college hallway. After confessing latent lack of forgiveness for her and, surprisingly, a bit of bitterness harbored deep inside against my parents for not being as good as I thought they should have been (basically I needed to forgive them for not being God), I was — at last — free.

But as I’ve been traversing the path of therapy, more and more twisted images are surfacing.  I’m forced to acknowledge the sometimes devastating rollercoaster of my brain’s makeup, its deep-set wiring:  I have bipolar disorder. A mental illness, an unwanted superpower.

Yep I said superpower. Over the years my mind’s jerked  me to sky highs and suicidal — even psychotic — lows. I’ve been institutionalized, I’ve gone to prison. I’ve lost and gained friends. The best of them have stayed, but I grieve the lost ones, lost because I snapped at them and snapped off a good, growing friendship. I’ve produced beautiful music, poetry and prose, I’ve screamed and cried and sat catatonic. I’ve attacked those closest to me and even stabbed my husband with a kitchen knife because I thought I was dead and demon-possessed and had no choice.

woman crying, pain

So. much. pain.

It’s been a rough, rocky road. This is a cliche phrase, but springs to mind as it really does apply. I’ve hated how my mind works and begged God to just heal me! Make it all better! Take me back to that carefree girl taking out the compost and singing! Please! I’ve gone to renowned healers and been prayed over and for. And every time God has said, in His silence and whispered gentle nudge, “Acceptance is key.”

Acceptance? Why can’t I just medicate it away? Why can’t I wishful thinking it away? Why can’t I deny it, pretend I’m okay, push it away? Why can’t I finally find the magic healer to pray it away?

Because this is how I was wired from the start and if I believe Psalm 139, well God was doing the wiring. Now God could very well decide, at some point, to rewire my brain and make me — normal. But until that day, which I’m not going to count on, I choose to daily view my brain — my God-given mind — the way it is, and I choose to say:

I accept you just the way you are.
I choose to see you and to grow with you and learn how to live from — not against — my diagnosis.
I accept this is where I am and I’m getting therapy to understand the hows of this brain of mine…

And I mine for the goodness. Because God, in His amazing and unfathomable wisdom, gave me good in this gift. I experience highs many don’t know and lows many wouldn’t want in a million years. It’s been excruciating at times, even with medication to keep things more or less even keel.

But I’ve experienced creativity that makes me feel like I’m flying in the stars… and when someone speaks of being so depressed they’re not sure they want to live anymore — I get it.

Did I want it? No.
Can I make it go away? No.
Would I want to be “normal”? I don’t know. I don’t even know what that would be like.

All I know is what I have. And this curse/gift makes me run into my Daddy God’s arms every day to navigate whatever adventure each day holds — because believe me, a life with a bipolar brain is a daily adventure.  And I look into His eyes, knowing whether I live with this all my mortal days or am healed in a couple of months or not until I get to Heaven…

I am grateful for my brain, thankful for my mind.
I accept me just the way I am, right where I am.
And, mysteriously and beautifully, I find I can accept you too, just the way you are — with all your faults and flaws and unwanted physical and/or mental gifts.

Because I get it.
I’ve got plenty myself.

And, every once in a while, I get on a swing and pump my legs till I’m almost parallel to the ground, singing (if only in my heart) at the top of my lungs. My mind is little again — free! — just loving life, immersed in the moment. Enjoying it while it lasts.

back of girl on swing

Just happy right now

Weakness Begone

white flowers on black tree branch under sky during daytime

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It was another great day at Kintsugi women’s self-defense class at Ka’en’s, learning how to wriggle out of a chokehold, hip-thrust to knock off the attacker’s center, grab the arm and toss them. Wooo. But when I rolled to the floor the pain of my bruised ribs screamed again and I had to sit and breathe for a while. I cried out in frustration — ugh, here I was rib-hurt again! and couldn’t do half of what I wanted to do in class.

Ka’en urged me to get some sort of mid-section support (yeah, I’d seen something like that down the knee-brace aisle at Walgreen’s). Then she got this spark in her eyes. She said, “I think we need to pray about this.”

She prayed for all my body systems to submit to Christ and function as they were designed. Then, as she placed her hand on my sore side, she prayed a different prayer. She told the spirit of weakness and fear to leave me, and immediately I saw it: bony hands, black curved claws sunk into my side, cloudy charcoal body clinging to me like some hideous parasite.

You see, ever since I entered the world at a mere 5 lbs. 8 oz., I’d been a tiny person. I was skinny, gangly, frizzy-haired and scared. The kids in gym class would “cover” for me, so I rarely got the ball in basketball or had to bump the white orb over the net in volleyball. Softball was terrifying — really, what sane person wants to whack a speeding hard ball (no ball is soft zooming at those speeds) — flying straight at them? Of course I never tried out for any school sport — an avowed anti-sport person embracing music and a happy “bando,” playing first trumpet all the way through to graduation. Secretly I wanted to try out for Track and Cross-country in high school but what if it was too hard? What if I wasn’t strong enough? So I self-protected, retreating to music’s happy bubble, only (barely) doing sports in gym class.

A late-bloomer, I cowered under the voluptuous girls’ taunts, even after my mom bought me bras and taught me how to stuff them. I was weak, small. Still skinny all the way till college when I finally fully blossomed. When I got married I was embarrassed by my frame till I saw my husband’s happy smile, convincing me that at least in his eyes I was enough.

As I began working out at the local Y, I grew muscles and confidence. But deep down I still considered myself to be the tiny victim of life’s cruel jokes, a skinny little woman, small and weak. A spontaneous lung collapse in my mid-30s revealed a possibly congenital lung condition that would likely spiral into a gasping grasping end of  life. Frail, weak.

flickering flame

But in June 2010 the Lord healed my lungs. They still presented as full of blebs or cysts, but I could kickbox and run and lift weights. Still, though, it took several years to not be terrified of another lung collapse every time I experienced the occasional shortness of breath or lung pain. Small, weak, frail.

Even now, as I’m typing this, I’m breathing through some lung pain, a sharp poke in the side, a cramping pain like a stitch in the side. But this time, I’m not afraid.

As Ka’en prayed that day, I saw the creature and I was angry. How DARE you cling to me? I am Leoa, Warrior Princess of the Most High God, and anything demonic has NO place in or on me. As she told it to go, I saw it shrink back, claws pulling out, Holy Spirit puff dissipating it in a terrified cloud.

 

And I felt strength surge into my frame, starting at my feet and burgeoning up through my legs, through my middle, through the top of my head — a blast of power straight from God Himself. I saw Leoa standing on a mountain ledge, head thrown back, roaring golden fiery blast into the sky! And I saw that I was finally free from the lies of:

Weak
Small
Ineffective
Victim
Fearful
Useless.

Instead, I saw with new clarity what had been true for many, many years — I am weak in myself, O yes, every human is. But in Christ I am a fireball of power, and the fear I once held in me is now afraid of me.

I went home and began to claim back territory the enemy had taken from me, from my children. My son hasn’t been able to sleep in his own room, as terrors in the form of sounds and poltergeist-like activity have kept him bound. I went into that room and roared and roared. I saw, in the Spirit, wispy forms blowing out through the walls at the blast.

 All this power held in human frame, this earthen vessel… Is it me? O please, I’m not that good, I’ve never been much in the natural. But as all of us Holy Spirit vessels come to realize (more and more as we are taught and grow in and by Him), a being filled to the full is a mighty force to contend with, and Satan doesn’t mess with us long. Not to say he doesn’t try and I’m no fool to think he won’t try again. But the battle is always as good as won when I stand on what is true.

I am:

Mighty
Strong
Powerful
Fierce
Meek (gentle in harnessed power)
A Warrior.

screaming woman warrior

An awful lot like my Big Brother, Jesus Christ — the God of Angel Armies, my Commander, Lord, Best Friend, Comrade-in-Arms!

And as I assemble my army around me, I see flaming torch eyes in my sisters and brothers. We are mighty in Holy Ghost power, wind like a hurricane blast in the face of all the evil hell itself can throw against us. This is the true Church, my friends.

And as I breathe through the pain of my healing ribs, I no longer see a weakling. I see a Warrior with some battle wounds to show she’s not afraid of a fight. And, through Christ, I can do all things. All things my Commander and Lord calls me to, for I already have all I need. Fear is no longer my enemy. It is my vanquished foe. It is now afraid of me.

“God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
~ Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7

We are called to be more than what we were, what we learned so early on we accepted it as truth. We call lies truth because we see the so-called evidence and human logic says what sure seems to be true. But God’s great Truths always outshine the lies, the “facts” life has taught us. We are not who we think we are. Through Christ we are so, so much more than meets the eye.

What are you afraid of, my friends? What are some of the lies you need to unseat? It’s okay to not know what they are yet. But I dare you to pray the brave prayer:

Father, show me who I really am. Show me what You see when You look at me. And teach me to grow into the image You dreamed for me as You formed me with Your hands.

It’s time to unglue the skins that don’t fit. It’s time to grow into your true image. It’s time to become like Jesus.

Jesus reaching in storm

 

 

O, Love!

art beach beautiful clouds

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
That in thy oceans depths its flow
will richer, fuller be…

O Joy that seeks me through the pain
I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be…

O love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
And in they ocean depths its flow
Shall richer, fuller be
That morn shall tearless be —
O love…
O love that will not let me go
O love that will not let me go!
~ “O Love” by Elaine Hagenberg

I sat in the sparsely-filled auditorium as my daughter’s choir filed the risers row by row, filling with white-shirted young men in black bow ties and pants, the girls in simple floor-length black gowns. The songs flowed beautifully from their lips, as though pulled forth masterfully by their beloved conductor.

msa choir

I’ve enjoyed every concert, pulling my little brood to the Senior Chorale concerts in our home school community since long before any of them were old enough to stand on that stage — often in the back where I could set up a blanket with toys and scoop up wailing little ones for a quick retreat if necessary.

So sitting there at the choral competition in a private school I’d never been in before, my last-born nearby, his sister on the stage — I didn’t expect anything but the usual excellence. And of course they didn’t disappoint.

But then this song quietly entered the room, slowly filling the room — and me — to the full with its rich harmonies. But it was so much more than that.

O Love, O Love, O Love that will not let me go…

… that will not let me go

Ah, how that simple phrase sank down, down, till it settled warm and thick, fluid flow gentle ebb and flow in my spirit, my soul. That reassurance that I never fully had before finally found its way so deep down it can’t be drained out again or yanked from my clutching hands, my wailing heart!

gripping hands

I know, finally know beyond knowing, that God’s firm grip on me never loosens.

I was never a once-saved-always-saved Christian. I was more the if-I-screw-up-God’s-gonna-strike-me-down-so-I’d-better-watch-my-step Christian. But even then I fought — oh how I fought! — to let MY will be done, only obeying when I decided. The concept of Jesus being Lord of me was simply beyond my grasp and being a hard-headed (and often hard-hearted) person, I thought (O fool that I was!) that I could be a Christian without really submitting to my Master.

At first God was just plain scary so I avoided Him.
Then He swung to the other end — my buddy… Hey, wassup, Jesus?

Truth was at neither pole, it turns out. But He pursued me, O He would not let me get away with being ignorant. He let me flounder in my foolishness, letting me tell Him No, but feeling the sting of it afterwards. Running back into His arms, asking Him to help me bridge the divide between fear of doing what He wanted me to do (Please, don’t send me to Africa…) and fear of what would happen if I didn’t . And, always right there,  the verse that challenged, frightened, and sobered me:

“If you love Me, keep my commands.”
~ Jesus in John 14:15

Simple but impossible. I was dead set in my disobedient ways, thinking He loved me so it was okay. I could basically live on my own terms. But that’s not how it works.

It never was intended to be a “magic prayer so I can go to Heaven” deal. Jesus didn’t die so I could believe a certain creed, even if it meant committing every verse in His holy Book to memory and doing everything just so (or nearly so). He didn’t leave Heaven so I could live any way I please and expect to enter Heaven when I die because Didn’t I say the prayer? Didn’t I believe? Didn’t I do the right things?

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ~ Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 7:21-23

Wow — yep, this is Jesus’ own words, and they couldn’t be clearer. His love that will not let go doesn’t let me get away with a passive head knowledge, keep-away distorted religious facade.

His love pursues my heart — our hearts! Even when I was plunged into mental illness,  unacknowledged bi-polar ripping my mind, psychosis wielding a knife — when I thought I was lost and in Hell, my cell in Chester County Prison a place of death and hopelessness…

When I cried from the floor, “I give up, I give up…” Love not my own swelled into my heart and even when I couldn’t feel it at all, my head was cradled in His lap and the Jesus I thought had let me go sang sweet songs over me. Sweet songs that pulled me from the depths of that prison cell into light and life and more love than I ever thought possible.

O Love that will not let me go!

woman in stripes holding hands with person wearing bracelets

Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

And when I’m tempted to slide away from Him, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love!”* — I hear a quiet whisper, a whoosh in my spirit, my soul breathing deep and I can’t help but gaze into the eyes on fire for me. I breathe in love and join Him in the dance, this dance we share. I bow, eyes aglow, for He is my King.

woman bowing

He is a consuming fire, but His love consumes all sin in me.
He is not safe, He could crush me with His hand and someday He will purify this present Earth with devastating fire. Those who cling to their sins and refuse to obey — well what can He do? He gives us all the choice and the choice leads to Life — or Death — there is no in-between. He would let me choose death, but not without a fight, a struggle for my soul till I breathe my last.

But this Love that will not let me go will not let me but choose to stay with the God I love.  This Love draws me back into endless embrace, and really what more could I ever want? For in Him is all our hearts long for:

Love
Joy
Peace
Friendship
Contentment…
So much more than a lifetime can tally, so much that eternity will explore the heights, the depths, the burgeoning sea of this Love. It’s a daily choice to sink into Him, letting my own agenda melt into His. It’s a Good morning, Jesus, I love You — what shall we do today? It’s walking into every day acknowledging You are the Lord and I’m just me — but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me — so let’s take on today!

O Love, O Love, O Love that will not let me go!

Now, sweet reader, think on these things. What is keeping you from running into His arms, from crowning Jesus Christ King of your heart, your life? Today is the day to choose to embrace this never-ending Love. It’s time to die to that old, dead life that is destined to rot, decay, and fall into endless Hell. It’s time to enter with Jesus into death and rise into new life, a rebirth that springs forth endless life, endless Love with the One you were made for.

It’s time, dear one.

shallow focus of clear hourglass

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

 

*”Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson

O, Love!

art beach beautiful clouds

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
That in thy oceans depths its flow
will richer, fuller be…

O Joy that seeks me through the pain
I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be…

O love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
And in they ocean depths its flow
Shall richer, fuller be
That morn shall tearless be —
O love…
O love that will not let me go
O love that will not let me go!
~ “O Love” by Elaine Hagenberg

I sat in the sparsely-filled auditorium as my daughter’s choir filed the risers row by row, filling with white-shirted young men in black bow ties and pants, the girls in simple floor-length black gowns. The songs flowed beautifully from their lips, as though pulled forth masterfully by their beloved conductor.

msa choir

I’ve enjoyed every concert, pulling my little brood to the Senior Chorale concerts in our home school community since long before any of them were old enough to stand on that stage — often in the back where I could set up a blanket with toys and scoop up wailing little ones for a quick retreat if necessary.

So sitting there at the choral competition in a private school I’d never been in before, my last-born nearby, his sister on the stage — I didn’t expect anything but the usual excellence. And of course they didn’t disappoint.

But then this song quietly entered the room, slowly filling the room — and me — to the full with its rich harmonies. But it was so much more than that.

O Love, O Love, O Love that will not let me go…

… that will not let me go

Ah, how that simple phrase sank down, down, till it settled warm and thick, fluid flow gentle ebb and flow in my spirit, my soul. That reassurance that I never fully had before finally found its way so deep down it can’t be drained out again or yanked from my clutching hands, my wailing heart!

gripping hands

I know, finally know beyond knowing, that God’s firm grip on me never loosens.

I was never a once-saved-always-saved Christian. I was more the if-I-screw-up-God’s-gonna-strike-me-down-so-I’d-better-watch-my-step Christian. But even then I fought — oh how I fought! — to let MY will be done, only obeying when I decided. The concept of Jesus being Lord of me was simply beyond my grasp and being a hard-headed (and often hard-hearted) person, I thought (O fool that I was!) that I could be a Christian without really submitting to my Master.

At first God was just plain scary so I avoided Him.
Then He swung to the other end — my buddy… Hey, wassup, Jesus?

Truth was at neither pole, it turns out. But He pursued me, O He would not let me get away with being ignorant. He let me flounder in my foolishness, letting me tell Him No, but feeling the sting of it afterwards. Running back into His arms, asking Him to help me bridge the divide between fear of doing what He wanted me to do (Please, don’t send me to Africa…) and fear of what would happen if I didn’t . And, always right there,  the verse that challenged, frightened, and sobered me:

“If you love Me, keep my commands.”
~ Jesus in John 14:15

Simple but impossible. I was dead set in my disobedient ways, thinking He loved me so it was okay. I could basically live on my own terms. But that’s not how it works.

It never was intended to be a “magic prayer so I can go to Heaven” deal. Jesus didn’t die so I could believe a certain creed, even if it meant committing every verse in His holy Book to memory and doing everything just so (or nearly so). He didn’t leave Heaven so I could live any way I please and expect to enter Heaven when I die because Didn’t I say the prayer? Didn’t I believe? Didn’t I do the right things?

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ~ Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 7:21-23

Wow — yep, this is Jesus’ own words, and they couldn’t be clearer. His love that will not let go doesn’t let me get away with a passive head knowledge, keep-away distorted religious facade.

His love pursues my heart — our hearts! Even when I was plunged into mental illness,  unacknowledged bi-polar ripping my mind, psychosis wielding a knife — when I thought I was lost and in Hell, my cell in Chester County Prison a place of death and hopelessness…

When I cried from the floor, “I give up, I give up…” Love not my own swelled into my heart and even when I couldn’t feel it at all, my head was cradled in His lap and the Jesus I thought had let me go sang sweet songs over me. Sweet songs that pulled me from the depths of that prison cell into light and life and more love than I ever thought possible.

O Love that will not let me go!

woman in stripes holding hands with person wearing bracelets

Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

And when I’m tempted to slide away from Him, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love!”* — I hear a quiet whisper, a whoosh in my spirit, my soul breathing deep and I can’t help but gaze into the eyes on fire for me. I breathe in love and join Him in the dance, this dance we share. I bow, eyes aglow, for He is my King.

woman bowing

He is a consuming fire, but His love consumes all sin in me.
He is not safe, He could crush me with His hand and someday He will purify this present Earth with devastating fire. Those who cling to their sins and refuse to obey — well what can He do? He gives us all the choice and the choice leads to Life — or Death — there is no in-between. He would let me choose death, but not without a fight, a struggle for my soul till I breathe my last.

But this Love that will not let me go will not let me but choose to stay with the God I love.  This Love draws me back into endless embrace, and really what more could I ever want? For in Him is all our hearts long for:

Love
Joy
Peace
Friendship
Contentment…
So much more than a lifetime can tally, so much that eternity will explore the heights, the depths, the burgeoning sea of this Love. It’s a daily choice to sink into Him, letting my own agenda melt into His. It’s a Good morning, Jesus, I love You — what shall we do today? It’s walking into every day acknowledging You are the Lord and I’m just me — but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me — so let’s take on today!

O Love, O Love, O Love that will not let me go!

Now, sweet reader, think on these things. What is keeping you from running into His arms, from crowning Jesus Christ King of your heart, your life? Today is the day to choose to embrace this never-ending Love. It’s time to die to that old, dead life that is destined to rot, decay, and fall into endless Hell. It’s time to enter with Jesus into death and rise into new life, a rebirth that springs forth endless life, endless Love with the One you were made for.

It’s time, dear one.

shallow focus of clear hourglass

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*”Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson