Only Jesus Remains– 49.Christmas Hiding Place

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020

Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas

My Lord and my God, too often I forget Your wounds. Oh, I see them. They are there as I gaze at prolific images of You hanging on the cross. But I do not consider these enough.  I see Your resurrected countenance. The victory. I revel in You seated on heaven’s throne. But too rarely do I consider You as the Lamb who was slain.

After You rose, the wounds were still there. Not just closed up scars as far away remembrances of injuries and injustice once suffered, but unhealed holes in your hands and your feet into which St. Thomas could place his fingers.

Be still my heart as I dare to consider these.  Lord, what happens if I hide myself in these? If Your wounds become my Dwelling Place, Refuge, or Sanctuary. My safe place. Perhaps these wounds are to be my cathedral. Perhaps. That place where I choose to offer praise which reaches upward in the midst of difficulties like spires of medieval Gothic style. Reaching up to You in increasing shouts of high praises—because You are. Because You will be and because of the nail-bored hands and feet. Your precious, bloodied head. Your ribs stabbed and cut through by the sword. Your Sacred Heart pierced! Your victory has come! Even though the effects of it are not yet fully to be grasped.

When I dare consider Your wounds, I am bowed down in gratitude and awe. I can only shout for joy. Thank you for this place where I can hide myself. My safe place. My exodus. My redemption. The wounds. Because of the wounds. Only because of the wounds. Your love poured out. Your kind of confounding power revealed. As I incrementally grasp more the nature of your power it provides inner relief!

Oh, my Lord and my God, how could I have been so blind so as not to recognize before that Your wounds are this place for me. You are my Hiding Place!  It is when I hide myself in Your wounds and even burrow into them that there is the peace of understanding what was, is and will be. The why and how stares me in the face and I am comforted. Joy that I am always now and forever ensconced in Your unfathomable love.  Joy and rejoicing because I was lost but now I am found. You have brought me home to Yourself. Now already. Now and to come. Forever.  I cling to the promises. The pictures you give me of how it is and will be. In this I can rest. Expectations re-set.

I hide myself in You. No matter the storm surging around me. I am safe. And warm. It is Your blood, already poured out and wet and sticky, which begins to cover me and which then stays.  My Protector. My Guide. The reality and comfort of Your wounds.

To be hidden in Your hands, which loved fiercely and firmly and healed the sick, and delivered from oppression and brought resolution and restitution to injustice.  These hands touched those who hurt on the inside with deep compassion and love. You met the needs of those who longed for You without even knowing it was You for whom they longed.  Your kindness reaching to each one. Even me. You brought me out of the wilderness of chaos, confusion and restless wandering back to You. For now. Forever.

I move from the wounds of Your hands to Your feet. To consider these.  How inexpressibly thankful I am.  I seek to express in words that which is inexpressible. From dwelling in these while mourning them. Mourning Your suffering. Thankful for the privilege of resolutely celebrating my freedom. Because of Your wounds, I am in abject humility and reverential awe for the cost. I bow before Your feet. Here I know I am small! Whispered wonder. I must kiss them! These feet which were swaddled in the manger, that learned to walk and carried You wherever Father wanted in order to bring us—His image—the tangible and perfect representation of Father. Then the final steps. To Mount of Olives where You sweat blood in the waiting and knowing. Yet, then for the joy set before You, these holy, devoted feet carried the weight of the cross up the hill to Calgary, where you laid down. Never to walk in this life again. Instead, You offered your feet, so they could pound in the nails to murder You.  You could have stopped it. You could have come down from the cross! But You did not. You chose to stay. Relinquishing yet another right. For love of me. Of us. Your ears filled with the sounds of Your own agony in the dying and the agony of those around You. The mockery cackling. The guffaws meant to wound and wound more. But Your senses though present to it, were oriented resolutely toward Father. United with His purposes singly. Without regard for the rest. For love of Him for love of us. For me. For each one. Palpating, never-ending, never-stopping love. No matter the cost. Without regard for what any person thought because you know (and know) the condition of our hearts.

You suffered for those who did not care and even for those who ran away because though they said they loved you, their fear for themselves was greater than their commitment to You. Still You did not reject. You already knew their weaknesses. You loved them still—fully—as they were. You continued to love them to the end even in their blatant, stupid, momentarily-insane, oh-so-human rejection of You.  This Love remains. I know it to be the same. Even now.

The cross. That instrument of hell. The whole weight of Your physical human body pulling on Your outstretched arms and pushing on Your feet. Being pulled apart by the wounds—both visible and beneath these. Agony unbearable! Unto death for though God, Your physical body could not survive the abuse.

It is when I hide myself, intentionally seeking to come to rest in Your wounds, that meditating on them, I begin to grasp (though never fully) the depths of Your love and my safety in this place in You. Because You Yourself paid the price for the ways I have offended and continue to offend, I can stay in You.  I am invited to it.  No matter what horrors happen on the way, none will be greater than You already endured.  I am still at home and get to remain. In You. On my way. Always welcome. Drawn in. Never pushed away. You…will…never…reject… You love me as I am. You made me! And if I will continue to gaze at You, in love You will graciously clean me up more and brush off and scrub out all the yuck and dirt I’ve accumulated along this wilderness way. Thank you for taking me in with rejoicing and delight even as I am, knowing what I have been. You are my Healer. Lover. My intended Bridegroom. You are my Restorer.

Now, now, now, I long to learn how to climb in and come to rest in Your Sacred Heart.  To enter into this holy place, I need more of Your heart—that real love—not just Your safety and healing. Your heart also pierced for love until the blood remaining rushed out. And the water. The death through which You brought my life. You brought it. Paying the price. Water of life spent so that the River of life could come. Holy Spirit, here now! Great rejoicing!

I unite myself to Your heart and Your purposes so You can love more through me. Take my life! It is Yours! Again, I offer it to You for Yours already given freely for me. I intentionally keep my gaze fixed on You. I make my home in the wounds of Your hands and feet. Connected to the wounds on Your head from the thorn-crown.  From here I beg You to continue to teach me and draw me more deeply into You and Your truth which lays out Your way.  United to Your Sacred Heart is where I want to be forever.

The life unto eternity with You is not easy. Your refining fire burns. Yet, yet, yet, because You did not choose to come down out of that painful (excruciating) place, with Your help, neither will I. You stayed when you could have left. You did not quit. And so I stay. Here I am, too. Holy Spirit, help! Give me more of Your heart and draw me closer to You! I look to Your wounds!

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha [Latin: Calvary], which means The Place of a Skull,

34 They offered Him wine mingled with gall to drink; but when He tasted it, He refused to drink it.

35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided and distributed His garments [among them] by casting lots so that the prophet’s saying was fulfilled, They parted My garments among them and over My apparel they cast lots.

37 And over His head they put the accusation against Him (the cause of His death), which read, This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.

41 In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, made sport of Him, saying,

42 He rescued others from death; Himself He cannot rescue from death. He is the King of Israel? Let Him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in and acknowledge and cleave to Him.

43 He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now if He cares for Him and will have Him, for He said, I am the Son of God.

44 And the robbers who were crucified with Him also abused and reproached and made sport of Him in the same way.

45 Now from the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (three o’clock).

46 And about the ninth hour (three o’clock) Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?—that is, My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me [leaving Me helpless, forsaking and failing Me in My need]?

50 And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.

51 And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split.

52 The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep in death were raised [to life];

53 And coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those who were with him keeping watch over Jesus observed the earthquake and all that was happening, they were terribly frightened and filled with awe, and said, Truly this was God’s Son!

Matthew 27:33-35, 37, 41-46, 50-54

SONG Recommended: –TO SEE MERCY TRIUMPH So You Sent Your Son album

ONLY JESUS REMAINS PODCASTS

CHRISTMAS HIDING PLACE PODCAST

If you are just joining in these reflections, read the Introduction here to learn what these are all about.

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Author: Elizabeth Fulgaro

I am a God-seeker--a Jesus-worshipper--a Holy Spirit follower. I create songs, devotions, prayers, books and Bible studies to give words with which to get to know God more. For you. Its for one-on-One encounter unto transformed, transcendent living. This is not my vocation. I am not professional. I am a real, ordinary person just looking to do what God put me here to do. (You have a unique purpose too.) So I am called to the work. It is not my income source, but my gift to those who find it blessing. Eagles Nest Foundation sponsors all projects for you. The result: pure, clean spiritual nutrition to feed that deep insatiable spiritual hunger which eventually overtakes each of us and galvanizes you to the life God has for you. This life is purposeful. Exceptional. You--yes, you--are called to something greater and more satisfying in His service. So it is hoped you'll try this spiritually dense nutrition and find it to be a personal blessing. However, the goodness of God-following doesn't stop there. He uses those who seek Him to be His love and care (justice, mercy, advocate, kindness) very tangibly in the lives of those around you. Not by your power but by His. His ideas. God ideas. Not just good ideas. To be part of changing the world, if you will let Him. You learn to just follow where He leads. That if you listen, He will teach you to hear His voice and then when you obey His inner promptings you will become His incredible hands and feet in this hard world. These materials will help! They will help you aim your life towards God in a way you never look back. You will not be the same. He will become the River in your desert spaces and you will become a conduit of this same River of refreshing, replenishing Water of Life to others. Find a prayer. Pick a blog post. Read a book. Be led deeper into the Bible. Select a song which resonates and use it and use it again to go close and ever closer to the God who longs to draw you near. Oh, and don't be tempted to think I'm a crazy over-spiritualized loony...My background is financial planning and counseling. Almost 40 years of it. To choose to believe in God is not to leave practicality and reason behind, but to learn that there is that which goes beyond it and includes it, unto true life fulfillment beyond all your dreams for the one who keeps seeking Him. I am a third generation Californian. I am a person to whom family means everything. The only priority higher is God. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada are my home. It is here the 1849-1856 Gold Rush is still glorified. Easy money? Actually only for the few. Even though I was raised in the Church, it took me ten years of doubting God even existed to realize that without Him, no matter how much of this life's "stuff" is accumulated, I actually have nothing. To come to know that all those who chased after gold are dead and all those who still chase stuff will be dead. That's when I became a God-seeker. Looking for that more. And Eureka! (This is California's state slogan and means I found it.) I found God...or rather, I discovered He was there and had been there waiting for me to look for Him the whole time. May you discover more of Him for you, greater flourishing life and greater flourishing for all in the world as well. God bless you! ~Elizabeth

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