Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down!
I wonder how many of us know about Low right now.
- Being near the bottom.
- Passing below the normal level.
- Socially or economically humble in character or status.
I know low. A little over four years ago, I started a blog and I called it “Leveled.” Because life had leveled me to the ground. I was a resilient person who always tried to use my own resources – at that time, though, I was left without anything but God. And I found that leveled is an important place to be.
Because it’s a place where God chooses to be. He went there to meet me.
Sitting alone on my living room floor telling Him I had nothing left. Overwhelmed. Selling our furniture to Marketplace and friends because we had to move out of our family home due to divorce. Awkward. My mom’s heartbreaking dementia. Unthinkable. My “perfect” family irreversibly broken. Unbelievable. Inability to fix things for my daughters. Unacceptable. Watching my parents suffer. I don’t understand. The threat of cancer and the reality of a major surgery with a 6-week recovery. Piling on.
The lonely 1:15 a.m. train whistle while I lay in bed talking to Jesus with few audible words. The drive to the courthouse alone. Standing alone in the pew that first time at church after choosing to break the news of my divorce in my first blog post. (I had the oddest sense that Someone very tall and shining was standing just to my left.) Long whispered car conversations with God in the dark drive between Ohio and Michigan. My Bible opened many times each day. Heart splayed out on journal pages. Humbled to realize what I had made more important than Him. Humbled.
Lower than the lowest rung on the ladder. Lower than the ground. That’s where He came and He lived there with me.
And after a time, He brought me out of it into a light, spacious place. Changed. Growing. Joyous.
Recently, I found a small, old book of my Mom’s called “Christian Maturity” by E. Stanley Jones. I read,
“The Christian way is quite different. We do not climb to Him and meet Him at the top rung; He comes down the ladder to us and meets us on the lowest rung – He receives us as sinners. ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’ … Only One dared reverse this stance of other religions that we must climb up to God — and they crucified Him for it – Jesus. He rendered vain all these attempts at self-salvation and said: ‘God isn’t at the top of the ladder – He is at the bottom.’ Breathtaking.”
Jones then wrote this prayer:
“O Jesus, what can I say? I am speechless before the wonder of this. I am in the dust. But there I find Thee – in the dust before me, ready to receive me and lift me to the highest heaven. I belong to Thee forever.”
There I find Thee in the dust before me. Breathtaking, indeed.
In my first “Leveled” post, I spoke of crisis as a “dark and fertile ground where good roots take hold and new life begins to break out … It’s the decisive moment. I’m down here with you.”
It’s a decisive moment because God never stays at the top of the ladder – He climbs down to the bottom.
And just in case you don’t want to take my word and E. Stanley’s word for it (and I don’t blame you), we see this pattern of God going low all through scripture.
She was desperate for healing. Twelve years of bleeding, of suffering, of being unclean. Following Jesus, trying to remain anonymous. Not worthy. No desire for attention. Barely enough courage to bend down low to touch the hem of His clothing. “If only I touch His cloak, I will get well.”
And there, inches from the ground, He met her. “Courage, my daughter! Your faith has made you well.” (Matthew 9:20-22)
Highly contagious. Ostracized. A horror to friends and family. Leper. An ordinary person made an object of fear by his disease. And when he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground. As low as he could go. And begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached His hand down to the man on the ground and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12-13)
Caught in the very act of committing adultery. Covered in nothing but shame and contempt. She couldn’t get any lower. Condemned to be stoned to death, brought to Jesus. “But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger.” (John 8:3-11) While all around, others stood with stones to throw, Jesus brought himself low to the ground.
Overcome with love for Him, she brought her most valuable possession. “Mary took about a pint of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house.” (John 12:4) Cheek brushing the ground. Out of everyone’s comfort zone for all kinds of reasons. Low on the ladder with love.
“Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” (And I wonder how precious it was to Jesus that, this time, Mary brought herself low for Him.)
The other night, in my devotion with my Dad, we read this:
“Whenever you struggle with whether or not God truly loves and accepts you, realize it is time to go back to the cross.” — Charles Stanley
Why? Because “while we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly … God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6,8)
In the most astounding choice in history, Holy God took Himself as low as you can go.
We abandoned Him. He would not abandon us.
We mocked Him. He willingly staggered beneath the back-bending cross.
We pushed a crown of thorns down deep into his scalp. He crowned us with love and compassion.
We poured out our human contempt. God poured Himself out like water for us.
We pierced his hands and feet. He pierced the lies that held us.
We took His clothes and cast lots for them. He died to clothe us with His righteousness. (Psalm 22)
None of us enjoy this, but just for a minute, think of your very lowest moment … your worst sin … the deepest hole you ever dug for yourself … and realize that, in that time, at that place:
He saw it all and He loved you.
Maybe it’s now.
The most meaningful parable to me in recent years has been Jesus’ contrast between the respected Pharisee who stood in the temple thanking God that he kept all the rules and wasn’t like the lowly tax collector – and the despised tax collector who stood nearby beating his chest crying out for God to forgive him. And Jesus said the tax collector was the one who pleased God. Whenever I am tempted to rely on my own efforts to earn heaven or self-worth or praise, God shows me the face of the humbled tax collector all over again and says, “Terri, here’s your role model.”
Let me tell you there is something wonderful about being low on the ground with Jesus. No one to impress. No need to hide. Loved as I am. Others may be standing tall, but I am covered by His hand.
Because my weakness was made to fit His strength. (II Corinthians 12:9)
Just one requirement: Seek Him with all your heart.
So when we are humbled at His feet, leveled to the ground, lowest on the ladder … we can count ourselves blessed. (Matthew 5:3) Because He is waiting. Jesus meets us there — He bends down and writes His Word, writes Himself, writes Who He Is in the dirt. He is mercy, love, forgiveness, strength. He is all things new. He has come down to the lowest rung, then lower. And He is etching His name in your dust and suddenly, He is transforming everything and all kinds of new life is bursting up.
“After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (I Peter 5:10)
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters … the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me.”Psalm 18:16-19
8 replies to “Low”
That was very good and heart warming. You are a amazing young lady that i deeply admire…Jeff White
Thank you, Jeff!
That is Ann amazing post, Terri. Thank you for sharing your heart and life as it is and will be very uplifting to others who are on the lowest rung of the ladder. Thanks again!
I hope it is, Deb – thank you!
Thanks Terri, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It was beautiful how you related God meeting us at the bottom rung because I have been there. She thankful for His love and always being there in those low points. Jesus paid it all at the cross.
Thank you, Freddie ❤️ – yes, so thankful for all He has done for me!
Such a blessing to read your blog girl. God has gifted you for sure with words and thoughts from Him. This has helped me so much as I struggle on with Susan’s health and problems. And God is down there near the bottom encouraging me, speaking words of kindness and strengthening me. My love and Prayers Terri….
Thank you, Don! I’m so sorry for all you’re going through – you are in one of the hardest battles. But I know that God is right in it with you and that He’ll keep giving you the strength. You are doing a beautiful thing – “No man has greater love than this …” God bless you and Susan! I am praying for you!