The Word of the Lord is worth more than gold, even more than much fine gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey straight from the comb. ~ Psalm 19:10 NLV
“Come sit under the Christmas tree with Me.”
Perhaps above all else it was these words of beautiful intimacy, whispered to my friend and shared with me, that made me hunger for whatever it was I missed by not embracing Christmas. They played in my thoughts, year after year, as I wondered what celebrating Christmas truly meant. My friend told me that when she responded to His sweet voice and joined him next to the tree bedecked in twinkle lights, He shared His heart with her as she recorded His thoughts in her journal. She read part of it to me, the part that wasn’t quite so intimate. It was early in my journey to believe God speaks to me, before I was able to trust it is His voice I listen to.
Oh how I longed to hear and record His voice as she had!
How I longed for Him to be that near, that relational, that sweet to me!
My friend and I were traveling when this happened, sharing a hotel room. As I slipped into sleep, I told Jesus how I longed for intimacy with Him. That night I dreamed Jesus stood at the foot of our separate beds. He said that when He saw me, He saw the things He saw in my friend, a beautiful pink heart, one healthy with grace and love, one designed for intimacy. He told me I was loved no less than He loved her, that I was precious to Him too.
Then He held two white rocks in front of me. He said that on each was written a special name, one of them was the name He’d given her, the other the name He’d given me. The white signified how pure and clean we were, washed by His blood and saved by His grace. Each name was intimate. Special. Something He treasured in each of us. He didn’t tell me our names. It’s a kingdom secret I look forward to knowing in eternity.
I’d longed for a pretty Christmas tree to decorate as a child, but the longing that grew with my friend’s story was at a whole new level. I wanted every ounce of intimacy and worship He had for me.
“Come to the tree,” I hear today.
Only in this moment I sense a different tree. It is cleared of branches and needles. It is shaped like a cross.
When I finished Soul Scents: Bloom, it was late. My family slept quietly, and I delighted in the white space to be alone with God. Instead of going to bed, I slipped into my recliner and pulled out my journal. I wanted to celebrate the moment with Jesus. As I wrote to Him, I sensed Him say, “I celebrate with you! Grab a glass of wine.”
I opened the refrigerator. There were two options, but I sensed He wanted me to pour the mead, which is wine made from honey. One time during a prayer gathering the woman praying for me told me that she saw God’s anointing upon my words, that what came from me would pour out like honey, sweet and healing for those who listened. Receiving that promise in faith, I poured from that bottle to celebrate with my Jesus. It got a little weird when I felt He asked me to pour two glasses. After all, I didn’t really expect Him to drink it, since we are together in spirit rather than flesh. I decided to have our little celebration outside, on the deck I so often thank Him for. I suspected He would ask me to pour the second glass on the ground, like a drink offering before Him. I remembered something about David doing that in Scripture.
What I’m about to share, I share in brief, holding back the words I believe were specifically for me and sharing only those words I believe He speaks to all of us. In reality I was writing in my journal, pausing and praying, never seeing His face. In my spirit I sensed His position in heaven, surrounded by friends who dined with Him there, but I never saw anything.
I offer this experience to you with a bit of embellishment, told as a story, in hopes you can read as though you are the heroine. As you digest the following portion, imagine yourself as the “I.”
Hear His heart for you.
Ponder His request.
Receive His love.
I sit in the night breeze, chilled though it is summer. The dim light illuminates the two glasses of mead on the glass table before me. The flowers I planted in pots around the deck are colorless shapes, shadows in the darkness, but their beauty is still present in my heart. I scan the sky for stars and moon and watch the tree limbs stir as they reach toward heaven.
The glasses of honey wine call to me. Am I crazy? Did He really ask me to pour two glasses? “It is hard to trust this is Your voice, Jesus, telling me to do this strange thing. But Your voice, Your words are desired by me. More than gold. They are sweeter even than honey. I do want intimacy with you more than I want anything.” I stare at the goblets, side-by-side. “Won’t You speak and show me what to do with these glasses of mead?”
“Take. Drink. This is our communion. This sharing together.”
I sense His voice rising from my heart, I don’t hear with my ears, but the words are sweet, so sweet. Just to know He speaks is beyond joy.
“This sharing together is our celebration. Take up your cross and follow Me. Receive from My hand both blessing and sacrifice. Trust Me in each.”
“What are we celebrating, Lord?”
“My sacrifice and yours. Your surrender. My victory upon the cross. My resurrection Spirit within you. This moment of victory in your journey. Take up the glass and lift it to heaven!”
I close my eyes and lift my glass, shutting out the deck, the flowers, the night. I hold my glass and listen for His voice, sensing He no longer whispers to my heart, but speaks out loud in heaven, inviting His friends there to listen.
“I toast you. Here is My partner and my bride. She bears many scars, but each is lovely to Me. I see no fault in her. I am highly pleased! Raise your glass, my sister, my bride. Believe in our marriage, our oneness, our unity! You fear failure. Obscurity. Lack of impact. Poverty. How can that be when you are married to the One who is highly exalted above all powers? Raise your glass, for I am King. I have conquered sin and death. I am victorious and joyful and full of delight—and I delight in you!”
My voice comes quickly, eager to praise Him, the worthy One who declares me valuable, who claims me as His bride. “Praise You Jesus! King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Praise You for Your kindness and mercy. Your patience and long suffering. Your sacrifice on my behalf. Your healing unconditional love! Praise You, Jesus!”
Surely they hear me in the heavens. Surely heaven’s hosts, seated in His banquet hall, rise from their seats, praise on their lips! “Glory to Jesus! All glory to the Lamb of God who was slain, who bore humanity’s iniquities and presents them whole and clean before the Father! Glory to Jesus! The Lamb slain who rose again! The baby who became Savior of the world!” Their words are an exultant roar. “All praise to King Jesus!”
The moment becomes private again, the banquet hall fading, the deck filling my vision. The two glasses before me.
“Drink now, my daughter.” His voice is tender in my ear. “Receive the joy. Receiving the anointing. The smaller portion the suffering. The greater the blessing. Both a gift of my hand. Recall this night in the years to come, how I married the suffering and the blessing and called both good. For each brief moment of suffering, you reap great harvest. Others will see the glory of My kingdom because of your surrender to this. Believe. Do not doubt. The mead is sweet, is it not?”
“The cup of suffering and the cup of blessing are both sweet when poured by My hand. Fear not the future. Trust My sweet presence will abide with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I tremble. Is it the cool in the air or the magnitude of my surrender to this difficult request? To drink of not only blessing, but suffering. “Every drop You pour I will drink.” My voice barely a whisper. “If You but protect me from all else and hold me in Your sweet presence in sunshine and in rain.”
I pick up the first cup, the cup with less wine, and I drink of suffering. “I surrender again to Your plan, Jesus, the sweetness of honey wine upon my lips. Let the meditations of my heart be pure and holy and a blessing to You, my Husband. My Lord. My King.”
Reaching for the second cup, the one full of blessing, I drink easily, savoring each sip, awash with His presence.
It’s as if He is right there next to me, the breeze like a tender finger brushing my cheek. I can almost see Him place a finger beneath my chin and lift my gaze to His. “Rest My dear one.” Oh the sweetness of His voice! “Trust that I am in control and all I ordain will come to pass. I will never leave or forsake you. Where could you flee from My presence? No matter where you go, I am there. I am one with my beloved. We can never be separated. Whether you dwell in joy or sorrow My presence will comfort and heal you. I hold you to My heart always. My heart beats for you, and I sustain your heart and enable it to beat for Me. Our love affair has just begun. It will grow through the ages of the earth and through the age of eternity. You will know what it means to be truly loved.”
Ah, sweet friend. Come to the tree. The rough, scratchy tree with the three nail holes. It is here our Savior taught us how to pick up our cross and walk through suffering to eternal victory.
Ah, precious friend. Come to the tree. The tree that sparkles with tiny lights and joyful declaration just as the sky glistened with the light of the heavenly hosts declaring, “Glory to God on the highest! Peace on who God’s favor rests!” Enjoy the celebration. The blessings! The magical wonder of an eternal King who came as a baby.
Both are the same tree. Blessing and suffering together. Both necessary for the greatest gift of all. Both are the tree of intimacy.
Lord Jesus, I come.
Oh sweet friend, do you feel it? The sweetness of surrender? The depths of His love?
Join us each day through December 25 for my journey to the manager–from a child who believed Christmas was taboo to a woman who longs to worship at Christmas. These devotional thoughts are excerpted from Soul Scents: Flourish, which releases soon. If you’re chiming in late, you can see the whole series here. Just scroll down to December 1 in this category.