Wow, ok. I need to say here that after reading this chapter, I am highly overwhelmed by all the information that I just received. Part of it could be that I have been sitting here for about 7 hours reading and blogging, but I am going to attempt to focus in on these questions. There will most likely be more blogs about this in the future. I agree with the author that the fact that I am reading this book means that I am currently experiencing this mansion in some degree. I can remember having tastes of this mansion as early as four years ago, and I think that I may actually be in one of the later mansions, but I’m guessing these last four probably blend together quite a bit. I’ll wait to make that judgment until I read further.
Reflect a bit on your experiences of falling in love with Jesus.
I could write a book about this (oh wait, I am haha). I would say the first time that I started to experience this mansion was the summer after my sophomore year in college. I was in Ecuador and I had an experience with God in the hostel in the jungle for several hours that made me start to experience God more as my “lover” than my “father”. Then, it was more of my realizing that God was in love with me. I started to experience the chase of God, that He wanted my heart and He was pursuing me. It wasn’t until a couple months later when I was living in the Dominican Republic that I started to experience the visions that Chapter 7 talks about.
Now, the chapter talked about visions in a way that most people can connect with, and that is great. However, my visions with God have gone a little deeper, because of this “gift” or whatever it is that God has allowed me to have. I actually had two discernable visions, one by a bush on the mountain and another in the backyard of my host family’s house that were significant and very real. My visions have always been very visual in nature, and I think this is because I am a very visual person. I started to experience what the chapter talked about was a realization of my brokenness. I experienced a lot of Satan’s “you don’t deserve God’s love” during this time, and I was reminded often of my failures. Because of my unique situation of being in a foreign country at the time, I also experienced a lot of times when I was very aware of being filled with the Spirit, in places and times when I was asked to do something that was far beyond my ability. It was a pretty significant experience.
Because both of these Mansion four experiences happened in foreign countries, it took a while after I returned to the US to come back to this mansion. It was easy to separate the foreign Chelsea from the American Chelsea in my mind, and I think everybody struggles with this. However, I really think that especially a year ago in March when I was truly able to put aside the self-esteem issues and the depression that I had battled for 10 years, I started to be well on my way into Mansion four. My prayer time was more focused on basking in God’s love for me, and the things that I did became selective as I started to live more out of a response to Him. The things I did flowed genuinely out of my love for Him, and though once in a while I got burnt out with all the work and responsibilities, it did not happen nearly as often, and I realized why I was feeling that way and how I could do things differently in the future. I do know that starting in March of this year, God started to move me on from this mansion and closer to Him.
What has God used to call you deeper? What tends to keep you from responding as you really want to?
God has used experiences to call me deeper. He gives me a taste of Himself and draws me in. He has used a lot of times of dissatisfaction and discontentment to realize that things need to change, and that draws me into a time of closeness with Him. God also uses things that come into my life that I know I can’t handle, such as a new friendship or relationship, and I learn to lean more on Him and His leading. I reevaluate who I am and who I want to be. But it goes much deeper than that.
What do you find frightening about intimacy with God?
I think that I am scared that I will not be able to handle His presence, and that’s probably a reasonable fear. Sometimes I am scared of what He will ask me to do, but mostly I am excited. I am scared about trying to explain myself to those around me. In some ways, I am afraid that I won’t be brave enough.
How can you cooperate with what God is doing in you?
I guess I just need to continue being in His presence, because I feel that if He has something to say to me, I will hear it with far less distraction this way than if I am busy doing my own thing. I am reading more and spending more time writing. I am talking to people I respect, but God is also showing me that it is ok to disagree with them. I feel that I am relying more on what God is saying about me than others, and that is a freeing experience. However, this is challenging. I guess the key to cooperating with God is always saying “yes.” He does the doing. I do the responding.