Monday, June 20, 2011

Walking With God Part 2

As we think about being carried in God's current, let's consider one of Jesus' analogies: the vine and the branch. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me." John 15:5 Have you ever asked yourself, what does the branch do? The branch does not draw water and nourishment from the soil; that is the vine's job. The branch does not hold up the plant; that is the vine's job. The branch does not make the fruit; that is the work of the vine as it draws in food and water through the roots. The vine is the source of the branch, the only connection the branch has to the roots, and thus to life. All the branch really has to do is stay in the vine and hold the fruit that is produced by the vine. That is you and me. The branches. Jesus chose us to be in Him. He is the source of our spiritual life and nourishment, as well as our physical life. He is the food and water to our soul. He produces fruit (good works) in our lives; we simply carry the fruit and hold it out to people. As long as we remain in Jesus, being in constant, intimate fellowship with Him, we will not hunger or thirst. We will not need to strive to produce some pitiful sort of fruit on our own. Truly, we cannot do anything apart from Him. Any branch that is separated from the vine is useless, good only for firewood.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it, to remain in the Vine and let Him do the work? But don't we try to be the vine ourselves? The more we think we can handle life and depend on ourselves to meet our own needs and to produce results, the less we can see of Christ. And our lives will become dry and fruitless. This is where death comes in. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Mark 8:34 The cross means death.
In Galatians we read that we have been crucified in Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. Until we die to our human, selfish desire to be in control and to be our own source, we will not be able to yield as the branch does to the vine. We may look like we have it all together, but there is no rest. Death is not easy. It is not pleasant. It goes against every human grain. How often do we pray to live like we are dead? But when we surrender control, and lay ourselves down at Jesus' feet, then will come rest. Peace. Contentment. Even amid the storms of life. It won't often be smooth sailing. But we can soar on the spirals above the storm. I did a little research and learned that an eagle knows when a storm is coming before it hits. He will fly to a high spot, as I said earlier, and wait for the storm to hit. When it comes, he sets his wings so that the wind will pick him up and lift him above the storm. The eagle does not escape the storm. He simply uses the storm to lift him higher.
Then picture an experienced river rafter. That water is raging and roiling, but he knows how to guide his raft or kayak to catch the current in the right place and shoot through to his journey's end. Our life can be like that, when we're yielded to the Master's hand.

One more lesson God gave me on that walk: I came under the highway overpass and suddenly noticed what must have been close to two hundred swallows' nests lining the underneath edge of both bridges on both sides. And I was reminded of Jesus' words: "Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's consent. Don't be are worth more than many sparrows." Matt. 10:29-30 He also talks about the way God provides for the birds, though they do not sow or reap or store up food. Here God was providing a home for all those swallows right underneath a busy interstate, and they were completely content. He says we are of much more value to Him than the birds. How much more will He not provide for all our needs, even in the midst of hard or even dangerous circumstances? It was a tremendous blessing to me to be reminded how much my Father loves and cares for me. I hope that you can also see these pictures in your minds' eye, that they are a blessing to you as well, and that you are inspired to look for God around you the next time you go out walking in His creation.