"And in the midst of trying to help each of them achieve their level of independence while desperately wanting to cling rather than let go, I find that I, too, need to go through that whole nasty process of self-identification all over again!"
Ever since I posted those words at the end of my last blog, "Thirteen ... Eighteen ... Widowed", it's been (Holy Spirit)-bugging me! No, I DON'T! The whole idea of "finding myself" or "self-identification" is flawed in its concept. We never have to "figure out who I am" at all –not at thirteen, not at eighteen, not NOW! God's “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3). His word tells me who I am (His child), my value (completely, eternally, loved) and my purpose in life (to know Him and love Him)! Sounds too simplistic, doesn’t it? That’s where we miss “getting the message” … we get caught up in the details. We want to know “but what do I DO with my life? How do I pay my bills? How do I know where to live? … go to school? …work? … and on and on. How is my life to have meaning? How am I to be productive? Even as I write these words, He is answering me … “abide”. That is all He asks of me, of any of us. Abide in Him.
The word “abide” is a word we don’t use much these days. When I went looking for the scriptures that I knew used the word “abide” I kept coming up with “no results”. Even when I tried using the concordance in my NIV bible, the word “abide” was not there! But the Holy Spirit had clearly said “abide”! One of the problems of “growing up” as a Christian with at least three different translations of the Bible is that I never know what version I memorized something in and therefore, don’t know where to look when the Holy Spirit brings the Word to mind … it can be very puzzling and frustrating! In this case, the word “abide” is used in the KJV and translated “remain” in the NIV.
In the gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 1 – 17, Jesus tells his disciples that He is the vine, we are the branches and God, the Father, is the gardener. If we remain (abide) in Him, He will remain (abide) in us, and we will bear much fruit (be productive)! But if we do not abide in Him (if we strive to live life apart from him), the “gardener” will cut us off and discard us as so much dead wood! Those of you who garden know that a plant produces much more “fruit” if you remove what is dead so that the “life” of the plant is not sapped by trying to revive the dead thing and goes into producing new growth.
Earlier this summer I had some landscaping done. A “dead” corner outside my front door was given new life by removing a nasty scrub tree and creating a triangular planting area with my existing shrubs and adding 7 shrub roses, some grasses, and a few boulders. The shrub roses bloomed profusely in the first weeks but a few weeks later had only “spent” blooms with few new blooms. The landscapers who had installed them came back to finish some driveway work, and one of them took the time to show me that I needed to “dead-head” the roses for them to continue to bloom well. I did that at once, and within a couple of days, my roses were beautiful and covered with new blooms again! In the weeks since, it’s been too hot or too wet to get out there and tend to the roses. I let them go. Again, there are very few new blooms and a lot of spent blossoms. Yesterday I spent several hours getting sunburned “dead-heading” them again.
It occurs to me that our spiritual lives are a lot like those rose bushes. When we are “bearing much fruit” (everything looks beautiful and productive), we tend to forget the need to continue to tend to our relationship with the Lord. We’re too busy! And then things get “too hot” – troubles come, life gets complicated – and again, we don’t have time for the Lord. Or it is too “rainy” – doesn’t it seem that when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong at the same time? Only when the Master Gardener steps in and starts “cutting off” the things that are “dead works”, does life and fruitfulness begin to return. I am so thankful that He continues pruning and promoting growth even when we are unfaithful or distracted.
This blog has drifted so far away from my original intention: to share the truth that God has already defined who I am and my purpose in life, and all I really need to do is abide in him and He who began a good work in me will also complete it!
For a list of some of the things God has said about me, my life, you and yours, please read this wonderful blog: Measuring Up by Renee Swope of Proverbs 31 Ministries!