It was a beautiful sunny morning, so I decided it would be a good day to trim back my bushes. Unlike my neighbor who has a doctorate in horticulture, I know nothing about plants, but these bushes had been growing astray for years and something had to be done. Shaping here and there had not seemed like a big deal, but at this point some pretty radical cutting needed to e done, so I began.
First, I cut off and pulled out all the dead branches. They were interwoven with the good ones. When they were entangled, it wasn’t as obvious just how dead they were. Then I pulled out other stalks that were not of the same variety of the bush; yes, they were green and living yet they were cutting off light and nutrients from the intended bush.
Finally, the unknown…how much do I cut back? How many living, decent looking branches do I remove? This is where my neighbor’s expertise would have been useful.
And into the garbage all these pruned branches went. The bushes look sparse now – like they have been given a bad haircut, but if my last experience with pruning is typical, the bush will again grow and flourish conforming to this new shape I have set for it instead of continuing in unruly growth.
My thoughts turn to God who expertly prunes the branches of our lives (John 15). That includes the dead branches that do not bear fruit, but with pruning, some of the good is removed to prepare for the best. Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit.
With pruning, the positive results are not immediately seen. When it feels we are stripped bare In the midst of our trials and distress, we endure patiently abiding in him. The one who abides in me and I am him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Brother John, Brother John….
Do you remember this children’s song which you can probably sing in both English and French? Today I am wondering, “Are you sleeping, Sister Lynn?” I used my own name but perhaps yours could fit there as well. As believers, are we sleeping?
Is there a spiritual slumber that pervades our nation and churches? Have we been lulled into a drowsy condition by ease and apathy? Has this become acceptable, so we don’t even realize our lethargic state? A similar problem occurred with the nation of Israel described in Isaiah 29:10-13, “For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes…because this people draw near to me with their words and honor me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.” In the book of Jeremiah, they “walked after emptiness and became empty.”
How do I wake up?
I pose many questions but have not figured out the answers. I found Jonah who was sleeping in a ship where he was running from God. I observed 3 of the disciples dozing at the time Jesus had asked them to keep watch with him. Eutychus fell asleep and right out the church window to his death. (Fortunately, Paul went down to revive him.) We are clearly warned of the dangers of falling asleep, but how do I overcome this state of my spirit not being fully awake?
I think the letters to the churches in Revelation offer a starting place. Repent! Realize this way of living is not okay. Then, maybe the rest of is up God. Can these bones live (wake up)? Yes, as God breathes life into them. God breathe new life into me. Revive me. However, when I feel the nudging of His Spirit to awaken, I have to get up and not roll back over to keep cozily cocooned in dreamland.
In Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul prays that his readers “will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” Through the Spirit of God, the same power God employed to raise Jesus from death resides in me. What does that mean? It doesn’t feel like it some days, but God has declared it!
I have feelings of powerlessness, weariness and weakness, but those aren’t telling the eternal story. In the eternal story for our lives when we are weak, His strength becomes more evident in us. That power that caused Jesus to rise from the grave displays for us that God is the God who accomplishes what the human mind thinks is impossible. My calculating, preserving, and planning does not accomplish the work of God, but His Spirit and power do what I could never hope or imagine to achieve.
This verse reveals my wrong thinking where I have been living according my feelings rather than truth. When I choose to believe God, I may not feel any stronger, but I do experience a marvelous peace by realizing my human weakness or messy life will not stop God’s plans. I am so thankful the good news doesn’t depend on something I do but something I receive by faith – His Spirit demonstrating His power producing His works.
Our feelings may deceive us. Even if you cannot see or perceive it, choose faith today believing His power is at work in you to accomplish His good purposes.