As I my walls have been coming down, God has been teaching me new things. He has been showing me the areas of my life that need growth or change or to be completely renewed. Today, I learned about another one of those areas…or more so was just reminded of the shortcoming. I opened my bible to read for the first time in far too long, besides Sunday mornings at church. As I opened it, guilt began to fill my heart, a guilt that was not of God. I prayed as I continued to find a chapter to read. The second my eyes began to take in the scripture, the guilt faded out and a sense of peace took its place.
John 15:1-4 says, “I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in me.”
These verses were nothing more and nothing less than exactly what I needed to hear. So often we focus on the next several verses that talk about, as branches, being connected to the vine, but I found that these first few verses to be more relevant than the others, more introductory. There is a story I have heard, that has stuck with me for 3 years, and continue to grow in my heart. It is about a goldsmith and how he must put gold into the fire over and over again, until he can see his own reflection. See, gold starts as this extremely ugly, dirty piece of rock. Once it has been put into to a fire of extreme heat, it becomes a precious gold. Every time the goldsmith takes the gold out of the fire, he can see more and more of himself. God is the goldsmith and we are that gold. We are ugly, torn up, full of sin and dirty, but we have hope! Our Lord desires to put us through fire, tough situations, difficult experiences and broken hearts, so that we may someday become gold and His face and character would be reflected in us! Not only could He see himself in us, but that others could see Him in us!
These verses are the same! God cuts off our unfruitful branches, the things in our lives that are not producing fruit. Sometimes it can be painful to feel or difficult for us to admit they need to be changed, but it always goes to follow Him deeper. Not only does he cut of the branches that do not bear fruit, but he prunes the branches that do bear fruit! He reminds us of the things in our lives that further His kingdom, and encourages us in those things. Sometimes through other people or situations, but always so we could grow and continue to bear fruit, continue to grow more fruit with every step we take!
Then it goes on to say that we cannot bear fruit on our own, that we must stay in constant connection with the Lord in order to bear fruit. It’s so true! The good works we do don’t mean anything unless we are connected with God and His word! As I said, one of my downfalls is putting worldy things as a higher priority than reading my bible or having quiet time with my Savior. As a new season begins on this Earth and the leaves begin to fall to the ground, I want a new season to begin in my spiritual life. I want bible/quiet time to become priority in my life, over school, work, friends and even church. The things I do for others do not mean anything unless I am in conversation with my Jesus.
I pray that you could assess your spiritual life, and pray that God would begin or continue to show you some of your shortcomings and that you would be willing to attack them head on with me. I have been learning that it is not an easy process and it is extremely painful, but that it is also becoming so worth it. I have made deeper strides in my walk in the past couple of weeks than I have made over the past year. I cannot wait to see what lay ahead and what the Lord has planned graciously for me.
Have a great week!