Monday, February 19, 2018

Weathering Storms...

Thoughts on the Vine...and some storms that passed last summer - 

Living in the Midwest comes with it share of weather.  We can start a day with beautiful skies and temperatures near 80 degrees, and by evening, snow can be falling with freezing temperatures.  Although we do not live in Tornado Alley, the random twister is not a stranger to us.  

This year has been mild on the tornado front, but we have had our share of severe thunderstorms.  Recently, one such storm blew through our neighborhood.  The skies grew dark, the wind picked up, and soon lightning was streaking through the sky, and thunder was rattling the house.  The dog was barking. The cats were scurrying.  The lights were flickering.  It dumped a few inches of rain, spat out some hail, and moved east, like storms do. 

Overall, we were not hurt by the storm.  I had removed the logical things that tend to cause damage. The flag was put away, and the hanging pots were taken down to catch some of the rain. In the end there were a few more leaves on the ground and in the pool, but no trees on the house and no shingles blew off.  I thought nothing of it. 

Until a few days later....

We live across the street from a church with beautiful grounds.  We often use their parking lot as a walking track.   One of the trees in at this church did not make it through the storm as well as ours.  One bough was bent and broken and beginning to die.  The leaves hung limply on the branch and were withering.  

Then a month later this....

The branch was no longer dying.  It was dead.  Honestly, There is not much hope for this particular branch.  The only thing that remains is for it to be cut off.  

What happened?  This branch was severed from the trunk.  The life giving sap that runs from the ground to the trunk to the branch and then to the leaves and fruit just could not make the trip. The break was too great.  The storm was too hard, too severe.

My life is like this.  Storms come.  Storms always come. They come fast and without warning.   All of a sudden I am holding on to dear life, just trying to survive.  The wind of circumstances is blowing all around me.  The hail of worries is bombarding my mind.  The lighting of  hurts and failures is crashing.  And thundering doubt is clanging like cymbals with every thought.  

And sometimes....I break.
The pressures of the storm seem too much, and I pull away from my life giving root.  
I begin to wither.
My growth is stunted. 
Part of me shrivels, grows frail, and begins to die.

See, I am learning about John 15.  Verses 5-8 to be exact.

 “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.  If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Jesus tells me he is the true vine.  He is the sap that gives me life.  I am a branch....just a branch.  Just like that branch on the tree across the street cannot grow on its own.  Neither can I. I have to stay in the vine. When storms come, when life gets hard, it is easy to pull away from the vine.   I tend to want to be alone. I neglect the Scriptures. I neglect prayer.   I withdraw within myself sometimes trying to ignore the storm.  Other times, just trying to get by.  Most times trying to fix things on my own. But that "fixing things" on my own...isn't a fix.   

When the storms come...that's when I need to dig deep into the Word...when I need to cry out to Christ in prayer.  He is the Vine.   He gives life.   The storm won't break what is drawing life from Him. 

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