Connecting hearts

But Jesus prays for us

Hebrews 7:23-25 There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever … He lives forever to intercede with God on our behalf.

Lent. What is it, exactly?

Since I didn’t grow up or live most of my life knowing about or practicing Lent, I’ve been asking God for a concept or image to help me understand it. In the Ash Wednesday service yesterday, we were invited to observe a holy Lent because since early times:

“ … the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need that all Christians continually have to renew our repentance and faith. … Let us now pray for grace, that we may faithfully keep this Lent.”

This morning I read chapter 8 of Dane Ortlund’s beautiful book, Gentle and Lowly, The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, which takes a deep dive into Hebrews 7:25. Ortlund describes Jesus’s heart as so warm toward us that he is constantly talking to the Father about us. “Christ does not intercede because the Father’s heart is tepid toward us but because the Son’s heart is so full toward us. But the Father’s own deepest delight is to say yes to the Son’s pleading on our behalf. … The intercession of Christ is his heart connecting our heart to the Father’s heart.”

This is beautiful. And for me to benefit from Christ’s intercession for me, I need to open my heart to his. Jesus doesn’t force his way. He gently invites me to connect with him.

So this is my image for Lent: my heart open and connecting with his, so that he can cleanse and heal and grow his beauty and grace in me.

But how do I translate that into an image for this blog? My mind flooded with the memory of a very special prayer time with a Christian therapist who helped me heal from PTSD. I found myself in a beautiful sunny meadow, romping with Jesus as a small child, maybe four or five. Just the two of us. Jesus seemed to have all the time in the world, as happy to be playing with me as I was thrilled to be with him.

At one point Jesus fell laughing to the ground, and I ran to sit beside him. A gorgeous blue butterfly settled on his shoulder. He reached out, the butterfly crawled onto his hand, and he extended it to me. “The butterfly will be scared of me and fly away,” I thought. But it didn’t. Breathless, I watched it come to me. I trembled with delight. Jesus and I played with the butterfly for a long time.

When my therapist gently touched me and brought me back from this vision, I knew I was not alone. Whatever I had to deal with, Jesus was with me.

I ran to find paper and colored pencils to try to draw the butterfly. I’m not an artist and couldn’t capture its beauty. But I believe the butterfly was (is) the Holy Spirit.

So that’s the image I’ve placed as the header for this Lenten season. A symbol for me of connection with the Trinity through the Holy Spirit who draws me into Jesus’s heart of love, and through him to the Father.

Jesus’s work on my behalf isn’t just a thing he did in the distant past. He LIVES to intercede for me. And for you. His love for us is as fervent today as the passion that took him to suffering and death. And resurrection. For our transformation.

God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

4 thoughts on “Connecting hearts

  1. Dear Debbie,
    From my religious training and childhood education, I thought I understood LENT! But this image and your story have deeply touched my own heart and this year LENT has a uniqueness I have never known. With grateful love,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got goosebumps this morning when I read in Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly, p. 99: “Let Jesus draw you in through the loveliness of his heart. … It is a heart that walks us into the bright meadow of the felt love of God.” !!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A picture is worth 1000 words. The picture of your healing experience embodied in the blue butterfly is marvelous. May you have times of revisiting that meadow with Jesus and enjoying the blue butterfly again!
    I didn’t grow up with Lent and don’t connect deeply with it. I understand it to include abstaining from something in order to walk more closely with Jesus. I need to give more thought to that. Anything that will help me walk more closely with Jesus is a definite plus!

    Liked by 1 person

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