Since my last entry on the 15th, I've studied John 15: 1-11 in conjunction with Bruce Wilkinson's book Secrets of The Vine. I read this book some years ago and gleaned what I needed from it. However, when God has a word for you, you have to go with it. The conversation I had with God regarding the true vine and the vine dresser was the beginning of a continued conversation that began a few years prior when I read Wilkinson's book. Funny how the lord picks up right where he left off, no time has passed for him spiritually speaking, because he is time, however that's a whole different conversation, but time has passed for me. Not enough that I forgot what we discussed then but enough to allow me to process, digest and excrete the gifts in which he stored in me then.
The pruning process can be a very painful experience. The strength of the pain all depends on your response to the cutting. However, it is still a painful process. As I refreshed myself in the book, I read and read and read some more until God spoke and said "this is where you are". The author, begins by breaking down the word of who the true vine and vine dresser are. He continues by discussing the array of fruit that grows on the vines which hang from the branches.
Now imagine, you're standing in a beautiful orchard of grapes. The most gorgeous green leafy vines and plump purple grapes. You look down and you see the vine, you think to yourself, "this is Jesus", your eyes move up toward the branches, "this is me" you turn to your left and then to your right and you notice the green leaves and the bunches of fruit that are hanging from the branches "fruit, those things in my life that are produced because of my love for God, some through good works, because of my faith and obedience" then you hold your head up and notice the many rows of vines and its various amount of fruit, "God The Father he attends to the vineyard". "Jesus, the true vine, the vine dresser is his Father, God, I am the branches and the fruit is what I produce".
Your next thought is why, why should I have to endure the pruning shears when I am doing so well. Well there was a time when you produced no fruit at all, you felt the pain in various ways but you didn't know exactly why. Somewhere deep down inside you get to the point where you have no other alternatives and you call on God, realizing he should have been your first call. "If your life consistently bears no fruit, God will intervene to discipline you".
So you have cleaned up your act and now you are bearing some fruit. But how much fruit are you bearing. Before your basket was empty, so you had "no fruit", now your basket has a few grapes in it, awe you have "fruit", but that's not enough because you desire "more fruit" well if your life bears some fruit, God will intervene to prune you, why, because you asked to bear more fruit. Okay, so now, you have arrived your okay with the amount of fruit you have grown and harvested, all is well, God is pleased and I'm good. You have met your hearts desire.
So what happens when Gods desire for you intervenes again so you can bear "much fruit" for him. This is where I am. A few months ago, I began to talk to God about my desire to openly pray at work without the feeling I would be fired for opening our meeting up in prayer before we began. I told the lord how I felt and that this was a struggle for me because I needed to do this but I cant do it in the position I'm in now I will be fired. I shared with God that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am in the right field of work, however, I realize I am working for the wrong organization. I continued by pleading with God to fix this for me.
Little did I realize that I had opened the door to another pruning adventure. The first two to 40 + times were hard and painful enough, now what have I got myself into. I said, see that is why you have to be careful what you ask for, why couldn't I just be content with where I was. And a still small voice said, because you desire more and more means growing.
God needed me to move somethings out of my life. Things that distracted me, things that I needed to heal from, things that I had to let go of, like fear the reverencing kind. He needed me to trust him more. I already trusted him. I trusted him to take care of me and my family, my job, my ministry everything. But God said, More, I desire more of you. Soon after my journey began. Things began to test my faith, some I passed and some I didn't. I began to journal my experiences with God, some of which you have been privy too. One of my entry I wrote to Him saying "Father how much of whats mine have you already asked for and I have given it it you". I've surrendered my life, my relationships, my right to marriage, my children and grandchildren, my sex life, my job. Lord what else do I have to give. Is there anything I need to give to you that I have not given?
His response, was a little overwhelming. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. This was a two part response from God, he wants me to accept the first part of this statement literally. Secondly, I need act on the second part of the statement. I responded, more of me lord, more of me. I need you.
Therefore, this area of pruning is a process of love, He desires for me to abide in him. To be able to remain, closely connected, settling in for the long term of being together. (now that was deep for me). Bruce Wilkinson's stated, In the seasoning of chastising and pruning, the vine dresser is proactive. He pursues, He initiates. Our role is to respond.
So, how does one abide? There is a 180 degree shift in who initiates the movement toward fruit fullness at the highest level. To abide we must act. Abiding is not, I repeat not doing more to make more fruit, however, we must do something and it wont come easily. In abiding, its always our move.
*There is a promise and practice of abiding.
*If you stay connected to him, if you draw spiritual nourishment from him, if you allow the power that flows through him to flow through you, nothing will hold you back from reaching the most abundant life possible.
*How many of us have been serving Jesus a long time and your not tired yet?
*In abiding, what happens on the surface doesn't count; its whats happening inside that does.
Abiding begins with visible spiritual disciplines, prayer, bible reading, and daily meditation are just few. I read Gods word, I read Bruce Wilkinson's book and what I have written is a portion of my experience. It's not about how I feel, its about my need for more of God. How about you?