Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Back to the Vine

I used to tell my UNCG students, “You never graduate from the gospel,” meaning that our need for Jesus never goes away. Our goal is not to need Him less but to depend on Him more. It seems that I cannot graduate from John 15, Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches.

After weeks (months) of drifting in busyness and being driven by the expectations of people and of myself, I’m getting sick tired of being sick and tired.

Needing an anchor for my soul, I’ve wandered back to familiar ground, the parable of the vine. God has been speaking to me in recent days, revealing the root of my busyness and burnout, which is a lack of intimacy with Him. Instead of seeking God’s face, I’ve been living by what seems best to me. The really tricky part is that usually “what seems best to me” are things that are really good and nice. Helping people, leading Bible studies, prayer. These are things that have an appearance of fruitfulness, and so they have become my focus, because I want a fruitful life.

So I was stopped short again today when I read John 15:5. “If you remain in me, you will bear much fruit.” The very thing I want – fruit - is a byproduct of the very thing I have rarely been doing – remaining. My life gets so focused on results, on fruit, on the end product, and the goal – fruit – becomes my focus, instead of the Lord. Remaining is so counterintuitive to me. It seems so wasteful to just “remain” and let God bring the fruit. There are so many things to do.

But what if they are not the things He wants me to do? Talk about wasting time!

It’s as thought God is saying, “Remain. Fruit will come. Don’t focus on fruit. Be still, remain, and listen. Trust. Let me produce in you what I want to produce, not what you  think I want or what you want or what others want. Remain. Fruit will come.”

And so I will. Like a branch in a vine. Focused on the Lord and trusting Him for the fruit. But I think resting and remaining will be hard work at first.

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