Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stripped bare...

I sat under my pastor’s teaching one Sunday as he spoke on John 15.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” “Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

What made his teaching interesting was a video interview with a vineyard keeper from a local winery. They discussed the vines, the branches, pruning, and the fruit. But as the video camera zoomed in on a brown, bare, severely pruned vine with one bare branch jutting out of it, I felt as if I were seeing myself. Raw, exposed, naked, and absent of green growth, it stood in stark contrast to the lush green foliaged vine heavy with fruit. I began to weep, as I looked upon a portrait of my soul.

Since that Sunday, I often see the image in my mind. I reflect on Josh’s cancer diagnosis, treatment and ongoing medical care, the enormous disappointment of the failure to remove his trach tube and the current tumultuous emotional situations concerning my other children. But life continues moving forward as do I, a bare branch grafted into the Vine.

As I was reading my devotional one morning, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I read:

"To fulfill God's design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me."

These words were followed by this verse:

“My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.”

Oh, how this spoke to my heart and how vivid those video shots were, showing my life as it seems right now. I am connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, and all else has been cut away. The emotions of living move me up and down like a small branch in the wind, but still I cling to the One. My self sufficiency, my pride, my dreams for my children, my expectations of life have all been severed from the branch and thrown into the fire. It is only He and I, our relationship and nothing else. I remain in Him.

Stripped bare and clinging to the Vine…

Monday, July 14, 2008

There are two things I crave...

People who make me laugh and God’s nature, two seemingly separate experiences and yet, similar in their healing and power over my soul and psyche. I find myself seeking out ways to find both laughter and beauty.

I love spending time with people who can laugh at themselves, who see the ridiculous and absurd in the mundane of everyday life. I’m thinking of one friend in particular. Just hearing her voice makes me laugh. She knows how to poke fun of herself teasing about her weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. She cracks me up as she helps me see the lighter side of life. She knows what’s truly important, but she never let’s me take myself too seriously. I need this reminder often. And as we chuckle together with those deep belly laughs that bring tears to our eyes, I feel my burdens lift. Only a loving God could have created laughter.

Then there’s this planet. The creator of the Universe put together mindboggling magnificence just for my enjoyment. Who can live with out experiencing the majesty and beauty of His world? This winter I hiked through snow dazzling like diamonds all around me. I marvel at this phenomenon. I saw Mt Hood stark and white standing like the finest clothed bride contrasted against the bluest of blue skies I’ve ever seen. Words cannot begin to describe His splendor. My soul was nourished through my eyes, ears and sense of smell as I soaked in creation, stopping to hear the stillness encircle me, breathing in the sparkling, icy air. Oh what nourishment! Only a loving God could have created such exquisiteness.

There are two things I crave, laughter and beauty…