I’m sitting in a Starbucks early in the morning, burdened and overly processing our and my world. As I watch the news or patrons, my pain and our world's pain is being experienced in the way we express our opinions. As a nation, we are in a span of multiple riots where senseless violence has taken place. Political debates and shock statements continue to stir the media buzz. Many have lost their minds because of the pain, preferences or opinions of someone else.
Our national headlines are feuding with one another. Indirectly, all of us are asking “why" in our own ways. Some of us are asking via anger because we are so frustrated and stressed out of our minds. Some of us have tapped out and no longer want to dialogue. Many of us have responded by blaming God. There is way too much pain in this world, obviously, God can’t exist. Others mask their heaviness with a raspberry white mocha and stay the course with the items on their calendar.
I think at the core, we are all searching for something that has more meaning than what we are experiencing. There has to be more, right? Everything feels so empty, lacking purpose. There is something deeper going on, a cry in our souls.
Why can't we all just get along? Can't we commit to listening to one another without being defensive? What has caused us to put up a deflector shield and constantly be in a defensive mode? I want my community transformed. I want a place where people care for one another, seek to benefit each other and make life better for everyone. Can this type of community ever exist?
Often, we are looking at everyone else to change to fit our values or preferences. However, the reality is that our own personal life needs transformation. What would it look like if we all started with our own lives? You know, like Michael Jackson’s "Man in the Mirror."
Hope. Life. Most crave it, few find it. John shares in his Gospel Jesus’ words saying, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (John 15 1-4, NLT).
Some thoughts to consider:
- A branch that bears no fruit is obviously dead.
- Gardeners prune their vines. They cut off the dead wood which has no life in it and trim the living branches so that their yield will be greater.
- Your Heavenly Father is never nearer to you than when He is pruning you.
- Sometimes He cuts away the dead wood that might cause trouble; but often He cuts off the living tissue that is robbing you of spiritual vigor.
- Pruning does not simply mean spiritual surgery that removes what is bad. It can also mean cutting away the good and the better so that we might enjoy the best. Yes, pruning hurts, but it also helps. We may not enjoy it, but we need it.
What does it mean to remain or abide?
- To remain or abide takes a long period of time. The mindset here is of seasons and not just one event.
- The literal meaning of abide is to remain in the same place over a long period of time, like planting a crop. It will take years to master the crop. It’s the difference between planting a garden and plugging in a power cord. Nowadays, we think of our spiritual lives as plugging in a power cord, counting on immediate results.
- Remaining/Abiding = Abundant Fruit. It’s impossible not to have fruit if you are remaining.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. How can this type of goodness be experienced? Instead it feels like everywhere I look I am experiencing the opposite: apathy, sadness, disagreement, indifference, animosity, cruelty, callousness and self-indulgence. There is a something going on in us at the root of our soul. Something is missing. We know it. Something isn’t right. We hide it.
What areas of your life do you feel God has been pruning? Choose to abide and BE different. Your closest friendships will be grateful for it. If any of us want to experience a different world, it starts first with the person in the mirror. It's starts with us yielding to one another and listening.
It’s my heart and passion to help leaders live out their calling and flourish. I believe your best days are before you and not behind you. It’s time to thrive. Let’s do it together. You are not alone. If you would personally like help in your leadership journey, click here to set up a Discovery Coaching call.