Have you ever had to pry your child off of you to hand them to a daycare worker or to a church nursery volunteer? The person you handed them to will try to comfort them, but it’s never complete comfort. It’s a little desperate heart trying to find rest and security. Some children will be ok in a few minutes, but there are some that will not be ok until mom or dad shows up at the door and takes them in their arms. In that moment of reconciliation, the heart and soul of that little one will find familiarity and rest. It is finally back in the arms it can’t live without and all is well in its little world.
If we really knew God, that’s exactly how we would react (inwardly) if anything or anyone tried to pull us away from His Presence.
Panic and anxiety would set in and we would not be ok until we were back in His arms.
We are living in uncertain times.
Every single day, Covid seems to be stalking us, wars and natural disasters are happening, our people are divided, our government is divided, and even the church of Jesus Christ is divided. What can we do? We are made in the image of the God who has zero problems and whose kingdom is never on lockdown or in a panic.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The reason we desire to have peace and no problems is because that’s how we were created to live before sin entered and ruined us and everything around us. Outward peace was the norm in the Garden of Eden. Inward peace was also the norm. Adam and Eve were full of love and light and everything was good all the time.
We long for peace and rest because God longs to give it to us.
It is the birthright of every single child of God. No exceptions. If we don’t experience it constantly, it is a signal that we have moved from the position of abiding.
It’s that simple. We are to stay with Jesus at all times. He told us to. He doesn’t get tired of us (or our neediness…deep down we all are).
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.
Abide in this verse is closer than the child in a parent’s arms. What Jesus calls us to is “in” not “near.” We have the extreme and unthinkable command from Jesus Himself to live inside of Him as He lives inside of us. No one would think of separating a branch from a vine and expecting it to live. Every single thing it needs comes from its oneness with the strong vine.
On the other hand, no one would expect a vine to produce fruit without branches. It’s impossible. We not only need Jesus to produce fruit but in a crazy way, He has made Himself dependent on us to produce fruit.
Jesus plainly said, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8)
Jesus used things we can see with our eyes and understand with our minds to teach us things that are almost impossible to grasp otherwise. How can a human understand oneness with the God of the universe who we cannot see? We can’t fully grasp it so Jesus said something simple and profound about vines and branches. Now, we have to use the one thing we can’t see to understand it…faith.
The vine is the strength that supplies every single thing the branch needs.
In my simple mind I see this beautiful relationship like this.
- Sap (water, nutrients, and minerals)=Holy Spirit
- Gardener=God the Father
We are called to one thing; staying connected to Jesus. That is our only fight in this world. He is everything.
We are to confidently live in Him as He lives in us and produces the fruit of the Spirit.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Who produces this fruit? The Holy Spirit does. All we have to do is abide in the Vine; the fruit is the natural outcome of abiding.
The Father does the great work of pruning as we abide. Pruning shows His love and care. It will often feel like punishment but it is not. Pruning is painful as God cuts away things that are taking away precious energy from the Vine. Good grapes are often cut away so great grapes can grow. God has called each of us to a place in this world. We can’t (nor should) try to do everything that comes our way. We need to wake up each day and give all our rights and plans to God and then let God choose what’s best for us.
The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.
If we are overwhelmed and worried, God is not directing our days or our thoughts. He does not overburden us. Think with me for a moment about Jesus and how He lived. He didn’t travel to China or South Africa even though people were in those places. He got up each day and let God flow through Him to everyone around Him. He lived in perfect oneness with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He didn’t fret or worry. He left the running of the world up to His Father and walked in obedience and joy.
I have studied the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus and it was a horrible place beyond our imagination. People were killed for practically no reason and the emperor ruled with an iron fist. The fact Jesus was able to live in that world and complete His ministry is a miracle to say the least. The amount of people following Him and the fact Herod and Pilate knew it and allowed it is mind boggling.
I say that to say this. We live in a world that is out of control. God chose the time for us to be here and exactly where we are supposed to live.
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Every single person on the planet has been placed where they are by God. He is available to everyone and will respond to anyone who calls on Him.
Those scriptures bottom lined my life and every other person’s life for me years ago. We can all rest in any situation because God formed us with His own hands in our mother’s womb and not a single person has been looked over or forgotten.
He loves us infinitely and put us in the family we were meant to have (even if it was horrible). He placed us in the country where we were supposed to live (Rome was a violent and bloody kingdom when Jesus was here). He has a single purpose for all of it; that we would reach out for Him in our distress. This world is screwed up and crazy no matter where we have been placed. It makes our hearts melt with fear and uncertainty.
“Reach out for Him,” is a phrase that actually means to feel or grope about.
That makes me think of someone in great darkness feeling around for a safe place to grab hold of. That’s us in a dark world. God wants all this darkness and chaos to get us to safety. Jesus was completely safe in this world even though all of hell knew who He was and wanted Him dead. They had no power over Him. He lived until God decided He would die. If all of us knew the safety of living in God’s Presence, nothing would be able to distract us or drive us away from Him. We would be like that child that someone tries to take from a parent. To a child, a parent is their stronghold. Their safety. Nothing fazes a child in the arms of a parent.
We have been invited to live that way in this dark world.
It seems careless and unrealistic to not be engaged in all the earthly battles that demand our attention. It’s not. For the child of God, it should be the new normal.
“There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.