There are moments in my life I want to run away. The moments when I want to run most are when I feel like my weaknesses are exposed, or when I fail. It is in these moments that I find it hard to find my way and instead can chose to struggle to get my way.
John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; […] , for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Jesus always claimed dependence on God. In contrast, too often I want to take the lead instead of waiting for God to reveal what it is He would have me do. I want to take control of the given situation because the world tells us this is what empowers us. Yet God calls me to remain patient and trust He will make a move I will not see coming and it will be for my ultimate good.
John 15: 1-4 “ I am the vine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you.”
For many years I missed the power of this scripture on some level. I wanted him to cut off any parts that hindered me or made me less than perfect. I correlated pruning with getting rid of my weaknesses and becoming stronger.
In Romans 11 the bible tells us we are grafted into God. Grafting is a horticultural technique where tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two may join together. It is encouraged to grow by pruning off the stem of the stock plant just above the newly grafted bud. I am grafted into Christ and made one with Him. God prunes me so that I can grow in Him as something new. If I am not pruned I can die and fall away, the graft will not take. I thought it interesting however that the pruning takes place at the stem. He prunes parts of me that I think make me strong and leaves the weaker parts so that I can truly be grafted into Him and find my strength in Him.
John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
When I feel weak or powerless to change something, God calls me to remain in Him because I am not the one who is to do the changing. It is Him at work in me, if I let him. God is patient with me when I fail. When I die to myself one of the fruits produced in my life is humility. He speaks wisdom into my life to help me navigate through the failures and he offers conviction that sets me free for the shame that enslaves when I throw all my perfect plans and deepest desires at His feet. The chains begin to break when I am willing to believe I am who God says I am. I am His, weaknesses and all. He can use all things for His greater good. I don’t need to come up with my perfect plan to “fix” it. I don’t need things to go the way I planned. I need to believe Him when he says he has already done what is best and wait on Him to show me what he is trying to teach me.
Rom 4:3 “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as a gift.”
Every time I believe God, he credits it to me as righteousness. I cannot be good apart from God. I can’t be a good employee, friend or girlfriend. I will always come up short. As much as I have heard that before it still takes great pause for me to internalize it, daily. As Philip 4 reads, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
One of the men God used despite some severe weakness exhibited by him was Peter. Peter said some stupid things along the way, he doubted when he was walking on water and sunk, and ultimately, he denied Jesus 3 times. Yet that was not the end of his story. That same man was entrusted with the keys to the kingdom and Christ’s church was built on him. There are moments in my life when I have denied Jesus’ power in my life and chosen my way. The consequences have been severe. Sometime, like Peter’s rooster crow, there are moments I can be reminded of how I fell short, long after God has forgiven and called me to move forward. Yet my future, like Peter’s is not dependent on a perfect track record. It’s dependent on my faith, as it was on his.
John 3:30 (NLT) “He (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
I am learning to pray for God to grant me the patience, wisdom and discernment I need to wait on him. Without God I am a controlling, insecure, selfish perfectionist who holds others and myself to an unrealistic standard no one can meet. With God, I continue to be pruned when I allow Him to humble me and show me who I am by revealing my weaknesses. It is when I see my need for Him that he makes me more like Jesus – more humble, patient, forgiving, and gracious. He changes my perspective on my weaknesses and redirects the direction I run in – towards Him.
When I chose self-reliance it’s like choosing to struggle in the dark, where everything just gets bigger and scarier and more powerful. When I bring my weakness into the light, embracing them, it allows him to transform me. It empowers me to extend my hands to him and others when I fall. Intimacy cannot be built without trust. He calls me to trust him with my weakest parts so that I can truly experience the intimacy of His love for me and His power at work within me. He has grafted me into Him completely. I can remain in him knowing full well that He is working, I don’t need to go anywhere else but Him to see the fruit of it. In repentance, there is nothing he cannot redeem me from. By faith I can do even great things and when others ask, “ How are you doing this?” I can rightly answer, “ I’m not, it’s The Lord.”
Lam 3:16-18 He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord”
“21-24 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.[…] great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “ The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”