While it feels a little surreal to be here at Rockbridge, surrounded by college students and InterVarsity-focused ministry, my passion for college students and for the Gospel still burns, and I had the privilege of talking with one student for an hour or so today. He reminded me of myself when I was 22 – he longs to love Jesus above all things, is frustrated by recurring patterns of sin, and seems to believe that if he just tries hard enough, he can get the point of being good and acceptable to God. Worship is often not a joy for him but rather a tug of war between his wandering thoughts and his expectations of himself in that moment.
As I listened to him, I was thankful for his sincere desire to seek the Lord, but I was also tired for him, watching him work so hard to “get it right” for Jesus. Getting off of this treadmill of working hard is one of the joys of abiding in Christ. A strawberry plant doesn’t work and strain to make strawberries appear. You don’t hear peach trees screaming in the pains of childbirth as the fruit is formed on their limbs. Instead, the fruit simply comes as a course of nature as long as the branches stay connected to the vine. I can’t produce the fruit that I long for. I cannot make myself more patient or loving or peaceful. I cannot make people love Jesus. I can only abide in Christ, trusting Him to make good on His promise that if I abide in Him, I will bear much fruit – not produce much fruit but bear it - for the glory of the Gardener, the Father.
And so as I prayed for my new friend, I asked God to let him receive the life and love that Christ has for him and to rest in His finished, loving work. I believe in my heart that He will.