“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
We all have a habit of telling God what we're going to do. These conscious, or subconscious, actions show up when we decide we want to do what we want to do, when and how we want to do it, with minimal input from God. We don't call on Him to intervene until we're lost and our lives are in shambles.
This is not how God intended things to be for us.
After the Last Supper, Jesus asked his disciples to follow Him into the vineyard so He could share about the lifelong relationship God wants to have with us. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." In other words, none of us will have fruitful lives if we're disconnected from God.
Wanting It Your Way
We've all been there. Associating with the wrong crowd, doing things we know we should not be doing. The way we think, speak, dress, interact is all outside of what God wants for us, but we do it anyway. Or, we're in a relationship that is not honoring us. We allow them to treat us any type of way, speak to us harshly and demean us. Or, we're mad at God for things that happened to us when we were children. So, we turn our backs, decide to live without Him, and make a succession of bad decisions that cause us to slowly die on the inside.
When will we decide that doing it our way isn't working? When we hit rock bottom. My "rock bottom" came in the early part of March 2000. I spent most of my 20's running from childhood issues--molestation, paternal abandonment--and being angry with God because I believed he did not protect me from being hurt. After graduating from undergraduate school in 1998, I moved to New York, and then to Baltimore, running from the pain.
By the time March 2000 came around, I was tired and ready to surrender. I got down on my knees and prayed for God to enter my life. I prayed to be moved out of the darkness and into the light. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for a fresh start. I prayed for peace. I prayed for reconnection.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Quite honestly, life is not worth living without relationship with God. He is the source of our light, peace, grace, mercy and favor. It is through my relationship with God that He was able to turn the mess I was running from into a testimony that has helped others. It is through reconnecting with the Father that I was able to get a life, but not just any life, the life God had for me.
Remain in Me
Remaining connected to God may seem like a lofty task, but it's not. It requires one thing: a desire to want to be connected to God. All you have to do to "remain in [Him]" is to talk to God. There is not right or wrong way to do this. Just set aside time to talk to Him, and be intentional about keeping your commitment to making time with the Lord. You don't have have to be super religious to connect, all you have to do is have a heart for God that you're willing to open up to deepen your relationship with Him.
If you desire a relationship with God, but don't know where to get started, then try these three things to get you started:
Keep It Simple (KISS): Your time with God is sacred. It's your opportunity to pour out your heart, share the things that have become a burden to your spirit, and be filled with His presence and peace. Don't worry about protocol, or what you don't know about God. This process will teach you about the many facets of the Lord, and how He loves a heart that is sincere not sanctimonious.
Place Time with God on Your Calendar: We live in an age where we're constantly racing against the clock. Place your quiet time with God on your calendar so you won't miss that appointed time with the Lord.
Keep a Notebook Close to You: God likes to provide instruction for you when you spend time with Him. Keep a notebook handy so you can write down the vision He shares with you, and will be able to implement those things later.
Dive Deep: Reading the Bible is the best way to get to know God and to see how He operates for His people. The Bible provides examples of how we should be living, operating, interacting with others. It provides a myriad of examples of how much God loves us.
The most important thing for you to do is to take the first step toward connecting with the Father. Don't think about it, just do it. Once you do, you will notice your life changing for the better. You will notice God begin to work through you to help others. You will notice how connected you will be with the Father. It will the most beautiful experience of your life.
Have you been following the "Abide in Me" Fall blog series? It's not too late to get caught up. Find out about how God wants to have relationship with us in John 15:1, how He prunes us for purpose in John 15:2, how we are made clean by His word in John 15:3, and how connection with the Father yields a harvest in our lives in John 15:4.