Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Abide Already





Abide Already

While praying this morning my mind wandered into a review of troubles. Troubles inspired critiques, and critiques descended into judgement. Then I think I heard a soft thumping that sounded like the distant galloping of a horse. It was God drumming His fingertips on the arm of His throne waiting for me to get back to my prayers. At that moment I was aware of how small I had become languishing in my discontent and blaming everyone around me. King David, a very earthy guy like me, put it this way, “How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day?” (Psalm 13:2)
None of us wants to be small-minded, consumed with petty debates. We want to be significant. I was reminded that when I am connected with the Almighty I am significant. Not in a way where it is obvious how I loom large in life. Anyone else looking on the outside would not see a difference. It’s like being a leaf on a tree. From our office window I can see fifteen trees of nine different species in our front yard which is about fifty feet square. They completely cover the view from the bottom to the top of the window. Trees are spectacular. When I am connected to God I am part of something spectacular. The tree doesn’t call attention to me but that is ok. The tree does good things. A leaf eventually falls to the ground and decays into dirt. There is goodness in that but we might question the contribution of a single leaf to the dirt. Indeed it seems to be as likely to be as much trouble as helpful. Why else do we haul a ton or two of leaves off to the dump every October? Given all this I wondered how much time a day I spend being a discarded shriveling leaf on the ground versus being part of a tree?
            Jesus gave us another botanical metaphor that was understandably more relevant for His time. In their day they did not have a supermarket down the street from which they could fill their cupboards. Significant plants for them were mostly ones that fed them. His metaphor used the grape vine. He said He is the vine, we are the branches, and the significance for a branch is to bear good fruit. That’s pretty neat. But a branch that does not remain connected to the vine does not bear good fruit. At best it bears fruit that shrivels up and wastes away, and the branch itself dries up and becomes firewood. Jesus was really good at this metaphor thing, wasn’t He? He put it this way, “I am the vine, you are the branches. All who abide in Me, and I in them, bear much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” This is from the Gospel of John chapter 15. Because Jesus was the Teacher, He develops the idea eloquently and to the utmost relevance. He has a lot of very important things to say about abiding as useful branches. Go read this chapter. It’s a good idea to pay attention to what He said there.
            So I thought I’d throw all this down on paper to remind myself what is the bigger picture. I’m feeling very fruity right now, let’s see how I do today.