This week has been an incredibly difficult one. I have been struck in the face with my failures, much more than I’ve ever wanted. And I have responded in the most un-godly way possible. I threw a pity party, I got angry, defensive, depressed. Honestly, when it comes down to it, the enemy was trying to take me down, and I let him. I just laid down and gave in. I was made for so much more than this, and I’ve been given the authority to stand up and fight, but I was removing myself from the vine and saying that it wasn’t worth remaining, cause it was just so much easier to give in. But what kind of life is it to just let the bully on the playground just beat you up? I have got to REMAIN and stand up and fight.
So, that was my week, and this morning, the Lord was so gracious to let me be a bit bitter and grumpy about it, but then he put some great words from good friends in front of me and he told me to buck up. One friend was blogging about Corrie Ten Boom’s biography, how in the midst of camp her sister Betsie told her that she needed to be thankful in everything. Corrie, like me, wanted to just pitch a pity party, and when we look at her circumstance, we could rightfully agree that she was stuck in a horrible situation and God’s goodness didn’t seem very evident. But Betsie was full of wisdom and noted that God is good even if our circumstances aren’t. Corrie was especially upset at the fleas that were in their hay beds. But with Betsie’s encouragement they went ahead and thanked the Lord for those fleas, knowing that it is God’s will for us to be thankful (1 Thess 5:18). And as it turned out, because of those stinkin fleas, the guards wouldn’t come into their room – the Lord used those fleas to bring an added protection over them. –This was my first kick in the butt. Every circumstance that comes my way is an opportunity to thank the Lord for his faithfulness toward me, an opportunity to recognize that His goodness is not dependent on my circumstances. This week I was so focused on my “fleas” that I wasn’t slowing down to thank the Lord for the ways that He’s using the fleas to grow and change me.
Then I was reading another friend’s Facebook post, where she talked about putting up her dukes. That she was looking back to Egypt – like the Israelites – remembering what was familiar and not being thankful for what was ahead of them – the Promised Land! In the middle of wandering through the wilderness we lose sight of what could be ahead of us and we want to go back to the familiar, that which is honestly OVER and done with. We should instead be longing for the future, for what the Lord has in store for us. He doesn’t want us to be stagnant and be the people we’ve been, He wants us to grow and be changed more into His likeness.
That’s where this idea of pruning comes in. I think I have been in a season of intense pruning… and boy have I been bucking it. God has been so gracious to show me over and over that my value and my worth is not in what I can do for Him, but in Jesus alone. Jesus already purchased the favor of God for me, but I keep trying to take back Jesus payment so that I can prove I’m worthy (or something twisted like that).
God has been saying to me, over and over, “You’re not remaining in me. You’re not asking me what I think. I may not step into this with you if I’m not invited.” And all the while, I’ve just kept going. I’ve been ignoring His still, small voice and pretending like I can do it on my own, when John 15:4 says, “No branch can bear fruit by itself.” I am so thankful that He doesn’t just cut me off altogether and throw me into the fire, like verse 6 says. But He’s gracious to woo my heart with the use of “fleas.” I’ve dropped some balls, I have a messy kitchen, you can’t see any floor in my bedroom (literally) – those are my fleas this week. And with them He’s saying, “girl, get plugged back in. You’re not remaining and that ‘fruit’ you’re trying to produce is lifeless because you’re not plugged into the vine.”
And He’s right, as always. I’ve been boo-hoo-ing these past few weeks, stuck in a cloud of depression and a victim-mindset. I’ve allowed the enemy to get my eyes off of what the Lord says about me and onto all the things that I cannot do without Him. DUH – I’m going to be useless without the Lord. If I’m not plugged into Him I can’t bear fruit. Sometimes the enemy’s logic is dumb. “Erica, you really failed at this, you better just give up; it’s really useless, you’re not even capable of helping anyone.” And you know what, he’s right (the enemy) – I’m not capable of helping anyone in my own strength. I am a dead branch in my own strength. I am useless and crippled in my own strength.
But you know what’s beautiful? I don’t walk in my own strength! I have been infused with the strength of the God of the universe! He chose me. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit (John 15:16).” He’s saying, “You now have power and authority because I chose you to move forward with my plan – just remain in Me and obey my commands so that your JOY may be complete.”
I’ve been walking in a cloud of funk this week, but right now I’m choosing to walk in the power and authority that’s been given to me by Christ to bear much fruit – to His Glory.
Here’s some other things that I know but need to get into my head and heart a bit deeper:
- I am deeply loved by God (1 John 4:9-10)
- I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God (Romans 5:1)
- I am totally accepted by God (Colossians 1:21-22)
- I am a new creation, complete in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
So, here I am – I’m going to walk in the truth that I am loved by God, I am forgiven and pleasing to Him, I have been accepted by Him, and I am COMPLETE in Him. He will be faithful to prune me and allow harsh weather and circumstances to come my way so that I can be “mature and complete, not lacking in anything (James 1:4).” And I can hold my head high because I know that I can “Cast [my] cares on the Lord and He will sustain [me]; He will never let the righteous fall… (Psalm 55:22).”
I’m gonna fight, cause I want to bear more fruit and have my joy be complete!