December 29, 2008

His Role and mine

A few years ago I was praying while walking. My requests were troubling me and instead of giving them to God, I was worrying over them as I talked with Him. Suddenly I ‘heard’ Him say, “Elsie, get out of my to-do list.”

That still makes me laugh, but also continually challenges me. Back then, it seemed that my list was long and His was reserved for those impossible situations. Since then I’ve realized that I need Him for everything. For instance, He does not scrub my bathroom sink, but His input is vital for my attitude while I do the work.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Some might grab that word ‘fruit’ and say this is about spiritual things, like church work or other ministry. I don’t agree. I’m to live as Jesus lived, to “let this mind be in me which was also in Jesus Christ” in whatever I am doing so that no matter what it is I am doing it to the glory of God. This includes mundane chores, all interaction with people, and time by myself involving hobbies and other activities that have little or no connection to Christian ministry. God has no intention that I be a mere “Sunday Christian.”

Abiding in Christ means living in Him, staying close to Him, making myself aware that He surrounds me. I know that He is my source of all things, including life itself. Abiding in Him means loving and obeying Him, paying attention to Him. Today’s devotional reading further clarifies abiding. Slightly edited and personalized, it says:
As a matter of faith and experience, I have to learn abiding in Christ needs prayer and watchfulness, patience and self-denial, separation from the world and things worldly, study of the Scriptures and secret meditation, attendance on the means of grace, and much inward exercise of the soul. The Lord is very chary of His presence. That is, any indulged sin, forbidden gratification, bosom idol, lightness or carnality, abuse of the comforts of house and home, family, food and clothing, snare of activities or occupation, negligence in prayer, reading, watching the heart and mouth, conformity to the world and worldly professors, or anything contrary to His mind and will that is offensive to the eyes of His holiness and purity, inconsistent with godly fear in a tender conscience, or unbecoming my holy profession, little or much, seen or unseen by human eye—all provoke the Lord to deny my soul the enjoyment of His presence.
He is teaching me the importance of abiding, and sometimes I learn it best when I am not. Besides the awful sense that He is no longer pleased with what I am doing and is not with me in it, He shows me that activity without Him is useless and fruitless. It is without love, joy or peace and will produce nothing of lasting value.

Staying close to Jesus is important, and as previously mentioned, I cannot stay close to Him by trying to check things off His to-do list. He is the vine — I am not. He is the source of life, direction, energy and all that I need to bear fruit. I cannot do His work.

But because I am a branch, He gives me my own chore list, then invites me to hold on to Him and get at it.

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