5.19.2014

I only want them to see HIM.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  
John 15:4-5

In the past few weeks the Lord has made it very clear that I have absolutely, positively nothing to offer anyone - apart from Him.

All of the counseling, discipleship, study, sin, weakness, failings, successes, and triumphs I have experienced are meaningless unless the Lord chooses to use them for His purposes and His glory.

This truth is difficult to swallow because it is so easy to rely on our own experiences, knowledge, and self-proclaimed wisdom when we are called to minister to someone who is walking through the same thick, burdensome mire that we have already been dragged through by the hand of the Lord.  We think we can lead the way because we know the terrain.  We know where to find spots of refreshment, and we know how to identify the pits of quicksand that will suck us further into despair.  So in our arrogance, we grab the hand of the new traveler and begin to yank her through the maze, never stopping to seek wisdom or confirmation from the One who allowed her to enter the labyrinth in the first place.  We follow our own dusty footprints, assuming that the way we escaped is the same route she should follow.  It took us to freedom, didn't it?  So why wouldn't it produce the same results for our sister?

All the while the Lord is sitting on His throne, watching us run in circles, frustrated and exhausted, as we wonder why in the world we are not finding success.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing

What?  What do you mean I cannot do this by myself?  Come on!  I have so much experience!  I am intelligent.  Discerning.  I have been through this battle before so I KNOW what needs to happen ... what she needs to do.  I have helped other people.  Why should this be any different?

Apart from Me you can do NOTHING.

Are you listening, daughter?  I created you, I have plans for you, I have given you specific gifts to use for my Kingdom and My glory.  But without Me, everything you do is in vain.
So instead of trying to convince me that you can do this, how about you quiet down for a minute and listen to My words again.
Abide in Me.
A branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in Me.
Whoever abides in Me bears fruit.
In ME, Michelle.
Not you.
You have nothing, and can do nothing, unless I give you the tools you need.
Wisdom, discernment, compassion, perseverance, mercy, forgiveness, gentleness and truth ... all of these are found IN ME.  Unless you abide in Me, you will never possess these spiritual fruits, and you will not be equipped to minister to your brothers and sisters in Christ effectively because you will be doing it in your own strength, instead of Mine.
And rather then being satisfied,
they will be left wanting.
Every time.

Sigh.
Why is it so easy to rely on self, Lord?  As many times as we fail and mess things up, we do it again and again and again.  Instead of praising You for the successes and affirming that every good thing comes from above, we replace dependence on a holy God with a false confidence in self.
How do you never grow weary of us, Lord?
How do you endure our foolishness and our pride?
How are you able to offer forgiveness and new mercies every single day to stubborn children who think they know best?

Thank You for being a perfect, righteous, never-changing, omnipotent God who loves His children and withholds the wrath we so justly deserve.

I want to bear fruit, Lord.  I want to be a branch that buckles under the weight of the fruit that has been so carefully cultivated and pruned by a God that loves me enough to care about my holiness more than my happiness.  Pruning is uncomfortable and painful, but it is the only way to bring forth the best parts of the vine.  And it is always worth it.
But before You even do the pruning, You command one thing:  To abide in You.
Abide:
to accept or bear
to stay or live somewhere; remain or continue
to wait for 
to endure without yielding  
to bear patiently  
to accept without objection 
to remain stable or fixed in a state
to continue in a place

This is a powerful word.  An ACTIVE word.  
You are asking me to completely commit everything I am to You, no matter how long it takes, and no matter what You ask me to do.
You are asking me to be patient, flexible, constant, accepting, and focused.

Teach me HOW to do this, Lord.  How to abide.  How to remain in You - all the time - even when I know I can do something on my own.  Show me how to surrender everything to You, even the strengths and gifts You gave me, so I can learn to completely remove myself until the space is filled with only YOU.

I'm sorry, Lord.  For all of the times I walked into a ministry opportunity without first seeking You because I thought, "I got this."  How arrogant.  How embarrassing.  Forgive my pride.  REMOVE my pride.  And never, ever stop reminding me of the truth that without You - I can do nothing.
I love You, Lord.  I know You love me.  And it because You love me that you chastise me, and turn me from my sin, even when it requires force.  Remove my resilience and my stubbornness so that I can be fully yielded to You - in every situation - in every conversation - in every motive.
I want to disappear so that the only one anyone ever sees ...
is YOU.

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