Dear Jesus

Because you are human, you will always have ups and downs in your life experience. But the promise of My Presence limits how far down you can go.

Dear Jesus, 

I have a hard time accepting the downs in my life. I tend to feel like a failure at such times. It comforts me to realize this is simply part of being human. When I’m really feeling down, it’s almost impossible to remember the Joy of Your Presence. So when You are absent from my emotions, I cling to the promise of Your Presence.

Beloved, I assure you that I can bring much good out of the times in your life when you are sad. These painful times teach you to depend on Me more fully, as you seek My Face for help and strength. I have blessed you with many joyful experiences as well, but you must not cling to them or try to make them permanent. Rather, hold them lightly ~ with open hands ~ enjoying the beauty of the moment. Thank Me for what you are experiencing, and your gratitude will increase your Joy. Be willing to release the pleasures to Me in due time; then move on to the next stage of your journey.

When Sorrow becomes your travel companion, embrace her as a blessing from Me. If you receive her into your heart, she will bring new depth and richness to your soul. She can teach you more about Me—a Man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. She can also give you hope, based on the promise of My Presence. Hoping in Me will limit how far down you go in your suffering; it assures you that you will again praise Me for the help of My Presence. Although this protects you from falling into deep despair, it is not a “quick fix.” You and Sorrow may continue to journey together for a while. Nonetheless, you will discover along the way a new capacity growing within you: the ability to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 
~ Isaiah 53:3 

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. 
~ Psalm 42:5  [NASB]

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing . . .
~ 2 Corinthians 6:10

Dear Jesus

Remember that you live in a fallen world: an abnormal world tainted by sin. Much frustration and failure result from your seeking perfection in this life

Dear Jesus,

I know I live in a fallen world, but sometimes I slip into denial of that truth. I’m still driven to seek perfection where it can never be found—this world. I waste so much time and energy trying to do things perfectly, when simply getting them done would be sufficient. This leads not only to frustration but also, at times, to its close ally: anger. Please help me break out of this self-defeating behavior. 

Beloved, your yearning for perfection is not bad in itself. I placed this longing in your heart so you would search for Me. However, your heart also contains many effects of the Fall. As a result, you often seek perfection apart from Me. This sets you on a path of frustration and failure—sometimes even idolatry. You can always return to Me by choosing to seek Me first and foremost. As you do so, I set your feet on a rock and give you a firm place to stand. I also put a new song in your mouth: a hymn of praise.

Do not try to stifle your longing for perfection. It serves a paramount purpose—pointing you not only to Me but also to your future, eternal home. Your unsatisfied yearnings can awaken you to the radiant perfection awaiting you in heaven. So, let the frustration of living in a fallen world remind you that you originated in a perfect place (Eden) and you’re on the way to an inexpressibly glorious place—heaven!

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
~ Psalm 40:2–3 

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
~ Genesis 2:8

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
~ Philippians 3:20–21

Dear Jesus

Come to Me when you are hurting, and I will share your pain. Come to Me when you are joyful, and I will share your Joy ~ multiplying it many times over.

Dear Jesus, 
I’m grateful that no matter what condition I’m in, I can come to You—just as I am. I don’t have to clean up my act first, since You already know the worst about me. When I’m hurting, I want to be with someone who understands me without condemning me. When I’m happy, I delight in being with someone who loves me enough to celebrate with me. Help me bring more and more of myself to You.

Beloved, this is a good request: better than you realize. Most people are selective about which parts of themselves they bring to Me. Some hesitate to bring traits they consider shameful. Others are so used to living with painful feelings ~ loneliness, fear, guilt ~ that it never occurs to them to ask for help in dealing with these things. Still, others get so preoccupied with their struggles that they forget I’m even here.

There are hurting parts of you that I desire to heal. However, some of them have been with you so long that you consider them part of your identity. You carry them with you wherever you go, with little awareness. On occasions when you have brought some damaged portion of yourself to Me, I have helped you walk in newfound freedom. However, you are so addicted to certain painful patterns that you cannot easily break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to My healing Presence will bring you long-term freedom. When that happens, you will be released to experience Joy in much fuller measure. I will share your Joy and multiply it many times over.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

~ Romans 8:1 

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

~ Psalm 126:3

In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.

~ Psalm 118:5

Dear Jesus

Spend time allowing My Light to infuse your dreams with life, gradually transforming them into reality.

Dear Jesus, 
I bring You my dreams. Some of them are shadowy and two-dimensional: lacking reality. Only You can breathe life into them. I’m tired of waiting, but the very nature of dreams is that they are beyond my control. So I wait in Your Presence, asking You to do what is impossible for me.

Beloved, someday you will realize this time of waiting is really a gift from Me. Whether or not your dreams come true, spending time in the Light of My Presence is extremely good for you. Consider the richness of sunlight: When it passes through a prism, you can see the seven distinct colors that are in it. Sunlight promotes growth and healing, and it has many other helpful qualities. However, the Light of My holy Presence is much more powerful and beneficial than natural light. That is why waiting on Me brings bountiful blessings. The full spectrum of My supernatural Light shines upon you while you linger in My Presence. Thus you receive many benefits: new strength, guidance, protection, encouragement, and countless other blessings

Bring all your dreams into My vibrant Light, so we can look at them together. Some of them are not in My plans for you; as you commit them to Me, seeking My will, I gradually remove them from your heart. Other dreams I approve, encouraging you to work prayerfully toward reaching those goals. Some dreams, however, remain veiled in mystery. I neither remove them from your heart nor provide a path for you to follow. This keeps you waiting on Me, enjoying the benefits of My Presence. When time is right, I can transform your long-held hopes into delightful reality.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
~ Psalm 36:9 

Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles. 
~ Isaiah 40:30–31 [NASB]

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. . . . Blessed are all who wait for him! 
~ Isaiah 30:18

Dear Jesus

Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven. This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you.

Dear Jesus,

When my life is flowing smoothly, the golden cord of hope provides additional blessing—like icing on a cake. However, when I’m dealing with multiple trials, this cord is a lifeline protecting me from despair. As I cling to hope in the midst of trouble, I am able to perceive You cheering me on: encouraging me with the absolute certainty of heaven. In order to behold You, though, I have to keep my head held high. If it droops down, I lose sight of You and see only the perplexity of my problems.

Beloved, hope is indeed My gift to you in both good times and bad. I’m pleased that you rejoice in the promise of heaven even when your life is going smoothly. Many of My followers get so intent upon seeking pleasure in this world that they forget about their ultimate, eternal home. 

It’s good that you cling to My hope-cord as a lifeline when you’re struggling with various problems. This reduces the weight of your burdens, making it easier for you to stand up straight. However, you must still make the effort to focus more on My Presence than on your difficulties. Your tendency to be problem-focused robs you of much Joy. As you cling to hope, looking to Me for help, you can be joyful and patient in the midst of affliction.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. 
~ Proverbs 23:18 

But since we belong to the day . . . putting on . . . the hope of salvation as a helmet. 
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
~ Romans 12:12 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. 
~ Hebrews 6:19–20

Dear Jesus

The more challenging your day, the more of My Power I place at your disposal. As your day, so shall your strength be.

Dear Jesus,

This is a wonderful, practical promise. My strength seems quite insufficient for the demands I face today. Yet I know Your promises are trustworthy and true. So I look to You for strength sufficient to handle the challenges of this day. 

Beloved, no matter how inadequate you may feel, you can always look to Me for help. You don’t need to go to a special place or assume a certain posture to seek My Face. Nor do you need to use elegant language or otherwise work to win My favor. I always look favorably on you, because I can see in you My own perfect righteousness. I am alive in you, and I know your thoughts better than you do. So a simple glance at Me, made in faith, is enough to connect you to My Power.

You tend to waste energy trying to determine whether your resources are adequate for the day’s demands. How much better to simply acknowledge your inadequacy when you awaken each morning! This frees you to rely on My infinite sufficiency. If you stay in touch with Me throughout the day, I will place enough Power at your disposal to meet your needs as they arise. 

You often run into trouble when you keep checking up on your “power gauge” rather than looking to Me for My provision. This self-assessment can lead to panic, which quickly sends you into a downward spiral. As your mind races, searching for ways to bolster your resources, you become increasingly anxious. Yet as soon as you turn away from self-help and turn toward Me—your ever-present Help—you find that your strength surges: becoming equal to the demands of your day.

Your sandals shall be iron and bronze; as your days, so shall your strength be.
~ Deuteronomy 33:25 [NKJV]

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

~ Psalm 105:4

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 
~ Psalm 46:1

Dear Jesus

Trust is like a staff you can lean on as you journey uphill with Me. If you trust in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed.

Dear Jesus, I find this teaching very comforting, since my journey seems to be more uphill than down. I love the idea of having something I can lean on as much as I need: a trust-staff. I confess there are many other things I tend to lean on in tough times, but not one of them is sufficient to bear the full weight of my neediness. Help me turn away from these inadequate supports and turn toward You—through trust.

Beloved, it’s good that you want to turn away from your deficient supports. Not only will they let you down eventually, but they can become idolatrous. I’m delighted that you desire to turn toward Me through trust. If you want your trust-staff to support you adequately, you must lean on Me consistently. Don’t wait till you’re in desperate straits! Turn to Me before the mighty waters of trouble engulf you.

You said that more of your journey is uphill than down. That is as it should be. Ultimately, you are on a highway to heaven. Though there are many ups and downs along the way, the overall gradient is upward. I am in the process of transforming you—preparing you for an eternity of living face to Face with Me. Do not expect easy conditions on such a high-reaching adventure. But do expect Me to support you all the way to heaven. Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind!

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
~ Proverbs 3:5

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.
~ Psalm 32:6 

Then they returned . . . strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. 
~ Acts 14:21–22

Dear Jesus

Taste and see that I am good. The more intimately you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.

Dear Jesus,

I have been taught since early childhood that You are good. However, that teaching did not change me significantly. Eventually I became a Christian, and I tasted Your goodness briefly. Yet I still did not know You very deeply. As a result, when things went badly in my life, I tended to resent Your ways with me. Only when I began investing time in seeking Your Face did I start to know You intimately. Now that I have tasted Your goodness, I want to experience more and more of You

Beloved, your desire to know Me more fully is a delight to My heart. Actually, I have been pursuing you for quite some time. Long before you became a believer, I was working to reveal Myself to you. I placed experiences in your life that exposed your deep need to know Me. I brought you people in whom you could see the Light of My Presence. Even after you trusted Me as Savior I continued to pursue your heart, which was divided between Me and worldly goals. Finally, you began seeking Me with your whole heart, and I rejoiced!

Your wholeheartedness has opened the way for genuine intimacy between us. You have tasted My goodness, and you want more. I have responded to this desire in several ways: I’ve allowed suffering in your life, so that you can learn to trust Me more. Also, I have blessed you with intimate experiences of My Presence—to boost your confidence in My perfection. My goal is for you to become so convinced of My goodness that nothing can shake your trust in Me. Then, your soul will be deeply satisfied—as with the richest of foods.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
~ Psalm 34:8 [NKJV]

 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 
~ Jeremiah 29:13 

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.
~ Psalm 63:5

Dear Jesus

A life lived close to Me will never be dull or predictable. Expect each day to contain surprises!

Dear Jesus,

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with surprises. I enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies them; it wakes me up and takes me beyond my ordinary routine. However, there is also a part of me that longs for my life to be predictable. In fact, I usually try to arrange things so as to minimize the possibility of being startled. Nonetheless, I do want to live close to You. If nearness to You and surprises are a package deal, then I definitely choose the package.

Beloved, a life lived close to Me could never be predictable. My ways and thoughts are too high above yours for that to be possible. I will never limit Myself to doing only what you can anticipate and understand. To do so would be to cease being God! So, expect your life to become increasingly surprising as you grow closer to Me. 

I want to help you become more joyful about your unpredictable journey with Me. There is actually much merit in expecting each day to contain surprises. This helps you view an unforeseen event not as something wrong but as something from Me. With this mind-set you are more likely to turn to Me immediately, rather than getting upset. You can ask Me to help you find all the good I have infused into the event. I also stand ready to help you respond appropriately. If you feel unsteady in the wake of a startling situation, simply draw nearer to Me.

As you learn to expect surprises each day, your life will become more exciting. You will discover traces of My vibrant Presence in unusual places. Increasingly, you will find your days bright with Joy, the pleasure of knowing Me more intimately

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
~ Isaiah 55:9 

With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. 
~ Psalm 18:29 

And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
~ 1 Peter 1:8 [NASB]

Dear Jesus

If you try to carry tomorrow’s trouble today, you will stagger under the load and eventually fall flat. You must discipline yourself to live within the boundaries of today.

Dear Jesus,

This discipline is extremely difficult for me, but it is one I strongly desire to master. My focus slips from today into tomorrow with the greatest of ease. I’m beginning to realize this is a form of escapism. By focusing on tomorrow’s problems, I avoid facing today’s. However, this type of escapism is extremely unpleasant, since worry is so painful. Also, it’s a way I sabotage myself: The more I worry about tomorrow, the less I can accomplish today.

Beloved, I agree with your self-analysis, but there is more. Focusing on tomorrow’s trouble is not only escapist, it is also irresponsible. Each day of your life is a precious gift from Me. When you squander My gift, I am displeased. Of course, you cannot avoid thinking about tomorrow altogether. That, too, would be irresponsible. The real question is, where do you live most of the time—in the present or in the future?

I see all your thoughts, so I know how many of them are needlessly future-oriented. If you want to break this deeply ingrained habit, you will need to monitor your thinking relentlessly. It is helpful to pay attention to your feelings; they can give you clues that your thinking is off course. When your present surroundings are pleasant yet you start feeling some negative emotion, it’s important to capture your thoughts and examine them. Most of the time you will discover you’ve been worrying about some future event. Offer that concern up to Me, asking Me to either take care of the matter Myself or help you deal with it later. Then, rejoice in Me: your Savior and Sovereign Lord. I enable you to go on the heights—transcending your trouble (Habakkuk 3:19)!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
~ Matthew 6:34

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:5