Abiding In the Life-Giving Vine

How was your summer? Were you overwhelmed with busyness or struggles? Did you have any soul-refreshing quiet times with God?

I sincerely hope each of you have some memory where you were certain God is watching out for you. I hope you glimpsed His unfailing love for you. I hope your troubled soul was strengthened with hope to take the next step forward.

My life continues to be a healing process. Sometimes just when I think I’m safe on the solid ground of Jesus, tumultuous waves from unhealed layers of deep pain knock me down. I have to constantly remind my heart of God’s Truth to refute the lies that blast their way in.

One night as I wrestled with an aching void in my heart, restlessness deep in my soul, and a confusing roadmap in my mind, I pleaded with God to speak to me. Lord, what is it You want me to do? If there is something I need to do, tell me. Please.

“Abide in Me.” What? “Abide in Me.”

So began my summer quest… What does that mean, Lord?

“Abide” means to remain, to continue, to stay. But it goes so much deeper than that when Jesus tells us to abide in Him, doesn’t it?

“Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself

unless it abides in the vine,
so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5 NASB

Without the life-giving nutrients from Jesus, the True Vine, our deep soul hunger will never be satisfied. Without a heart and soul connection to Him, we have nothing and can do nothing. Without His life-sustaining power, the smallest storm will rip us away.

We need to open our hearts wide to receive His Word. To devour, digest, and allow His truth to dominate our thoughts, words, and actions. To let it free-flow into the deepest parts of our souls to replenish, revive, and reform us each and every moment of day and night.

“If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus –
in His presence – ripened by the sunshine of His smiles.
We must hold sweet communion with Him.
We must leave the distant view of His face and come near,
as John did, and pillow our head on His breast;
then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness.”
Charles Spurgeon

When we choose to abide in our life-giving and life-sustaining Savior, it won’t be easy. No, it will be harder sometimes, because Satan tries his best to rip us from Him. But Satan’s best is never good enough. We are immovably secure, because our victorious Savior chose to die for us, chose to live for us, and chooses to abide with us and in us. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. With Him, we can keep taking the next step.

That is why I can come back to blogging. It’s not about my bearing fruit to God. It’s about letting go of my own striving to do more or be better. It’s about remaining connected to Jesus and allowing His nutrients to flow through me to others.

This willful child will often forget and fall down. But I will get up again, and step by step, I will learn to abide in Him more freely and fully. To pillow my head on His chest and let Him wrap His arms around me in the warmth of His unfailing love. To believe His steadfast willingness and even His delight to calm my fears and insecurities, to refresh me with nutrients from His endless fountain of grace, and to give me words focused on Him and His love, not on myself.

I pray each word will be balm to your hurting heart and will point you to our only HOPE in Jesus!

I am looking forward to interacting with you again. It amazes me that though my heart’s longing is to encourage you, I often end up on the receiving end of encouragement. Thank you so much for blessing me. God is so good to me.

“Abide With Me”
by Matt Maher

“Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me

It’s a Life-long Process, Not an Immediate Answer

No-Rush-by-HolleyGerth.com_

I remember helping one of my sons with his Algebra many years ago. He wanted the answers NOW. He didn’t want to have to go through a process. It was hard for me not to just give him the answers, but I knew it would benefit him more to work through it and “discover.” Out of love, I had to deny him immediate results, because I wanted him to learn to grow in knowledge and understanding.

I was a firm believer of the discovery process when I was a teacher, too. Children would retain more of what they learned if they had to go through the process. Hand-feeding them immediate answers did not help them in the process of learning to their advantage.

Spiritual life is a process, too. A continuing, life-long process as we become more and more refined into God’s image, into the person He has created us to be. We need to become more deeply saturated in the knowledge and understanding of His Divine character and His genuine love for us.

The process is grueling and self-stripping, leaving only the love and grace of Jesus. Some of the things God uses to bring us through His process can be downright frustrating. We want the complete healing NOW, but that wouldn’t benefit us. If God would give us immediate answers, we would be in a sorry state. We wouldn’t really, truly learn, would we? Can you imagine how “entitled” we would become?

Like Paul, I begged God to remove the cross of chronic illness from me. God again and again reminds me that the cross must stay, but His grace is sufficient. This cross is part of the process to grow in Christ. I’m trying to learn to accept it more as a gift. That no matter what, God loves me and only wants what is good for me.

“Each time He said, “My grace is all you need.
My power works best in weakness.”
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Because of past sexual, spiritual, and emotional abuse, I still deal with deep, unhealed pits of shame in my soul that will take a life-long process to overcome. Yes, in Christ we are wholly and completely healed, but He chooses to lead us through a process that will bring us closer to Him and give us a deeper knowledge and understanding of what depths of suffering He went through to save us. What deep, bottomless love He has for us! And He wants us to learn to have a deeper relationship with Him and His love.

These last weeks, I took a break from blogging. I felt overwhelmed, and I wanted to ground myself more into who God really is and who I am in Christ. But I’m learning there are no quick answers. Nothing comes at the snap of our fingers, and that’s a good thing.

I’m not very good at uncertainties, but I have to learn to believe God is with me through the process and He has me in the palm of His hand. This life will always be a struggle until that day of complete perfection in Christ, when we may finally be with Him face to face. And I’m learning that’s ok. I just need to lean into Jesus and trust He is a safe Confidant and a faithful Promise-Keeper.

I thought I shouldn’t come back here until I’m more grounded, but God doesn’t expect perfection from us. As Holley Gerth says in You’re Loved No Matter What :

“We can spend our whole lives trying to
‘improve’ who we are to please someone else.
But we’re better off embracing who God made us,
enjoying it, and sharing who we are to others.”

I’m coming back with all my imperfections and trusting God will supply all I need as He has promised. Maybe the times when I groan with what to write are growing pains and part of the process. Maybe it’s God’s way to make me more dependent on Him for every word I write.

My dear readers, we are so utterly dependent on Him, aren’t we? Let’s try to let Him lead us through life’s process, however painful it can be. However frustrated we may become. Immediate answers would harm us, but God’s growing-in-Him process will only prosper us.

“Transformation is a process,
and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs.
It’s a journey of discovery –
there are moments on mountaintops

and moments in deep valleys of despair.”
~ Rick Warren

I hope that we can together support each other through this journey of discovery. Let’s rejoice together on our mountaintops and lift each other through those deep valleys. May we discover ever deeper what amazing, matchless love Jesus has for us. May we encourage each other that Jesus is always with us, no matter what. May we remind each other that His learning process will not leave us alone and unloved but will lead us into the glorious beauty of His love, grace, and mercy. In the end, the answer is out-of-this-world!

“But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength)
and recognition and knowledge and understanding
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
To Him [be] glory (honor, majesty, and splendor)
both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)!”
2 Peter 3:18 AMP

“Live Like You’re Loved”
by Hawk Nelson

May we grow in the grace
and knowledge of Christ Jesus!
May we realize how precious we are to Him!

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Bonnie – Faith Barista’s Beloved Brews