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June 8, 2009
"Be Patient! Be Vigilante!"
When I make a garden I want it done yesterday! It is very difficult for me to hold steady and patiently plan. I want to see the fruit of contentment now. I can hardly stand to feel this restlessness inside of me.
I don't know of a gardener that doesn't feel the same way. But they will all tell you that patience is needed for fruitfulness. Patience and weeding. That takes vigilance! It means checking my spirit daily, even hourly to see what else is growing up in the fertile ground of my mind. It means looking inside to see if I have really relinquished my own natural ways, strengths and tendencies. It means accepting God's agenda. Do I really believe that God's agenda is better for me than my own?
I would like to do NOTHING but what I was created to do.
To love and adore Him.
I ask myself each morning when I wake up, "Is Jesus Christ enough for you, Arlita?" Deep inside our heart can we trust the Husbandman or the Vinedresser of our life? What grace do we need next for our soul? Can we believe for its supply? Can we trust Him not only for our difficulties but for our barrenness as well?
"Is anything too hard for Him?" God said this to Sarah when she laughed at the outrageous statement she had just heard. She was barren and the angel was telling her that she would conceive and have a son in her old age.
Let me tell you about the Gorse Bush:
In the springtime these bushes burst into golden blooms. 7,000 feet high in the mountains near Big Bear Lake, California, all the way down the switchbacks and winding highway to San Bernardino they cheer the weary traveler.
The Gorse has strong, sharp thorns and all year long the thorn has been hardening and sharpening. Then spring comes! The thorn does NOT drop off and it does NOT soften. There it is. Uncompromising as ever. BUT halfway up the actual thorn appear two furry balls that are mere specks at first. These furry balls break straight out of last year's thorn into a blaze of golden glory!
There is a line in F. W. H. Meyers' poem, St. Paul that says, "(He) Setteth in pain the jewel of His Joy!"
Take the very hardest, sharpest thing in your life -
the place of difficulty,
It is a principle God uses over and over. It is part of His character to want to transform every form of suffering into something glorious! Our garden is going to be glorious.
Sometimes we are tempted severely to run from the process - or even take our life to escape the brutal stripping. But then His purposes wouldn't be fulfilled in you. True, you aren't seeing your purposes fulfilled, but then, are yours greater than His?
"Death is the gateway to Life." said Lillias Trotter in her "Parables of the Cross." In her beautifully illustrated book Lillias Trotter talks about dying to one's self; and has illustrated the Gorse Bush in watercolors. My mother-in-law gave me this treasure of an old book years ago and I have often gone to it for strength and comfort.
"Without a true death there can be no resurrection," my own mother once told me.
Jim Elliot, the martyred missionary to Ecuador said, "He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose!"
If we want our gardens to be filled with contentment, if we want resurrection life, we must be willing to abide by the rules of the garden. Only then will fruit result! We let ourselves "die," trusting God for the "resurrection" and for the life that is going to pour into us. We cover it over with "topsoil," that is, blessings - for others, particularly the ones who have hurt us. Next comes the watering with prayers of thanksgiving regularly for the fruit that is going to come. He promised that it will come. He promised that it will remain! Eternal fruit.
Let's read our text again from John 15:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . .(vs. 4,5) Remain in me, and I will 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. I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. . . (vs. 9-11) As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (Vs. 16) You did not chose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last . . ." (NIV)
In other words: "I am the source of your life, your joy, your ability to bear fruit, your fulfillment!
Apart from me you can do nothing. Even I can do nothing of my own initiative and I do nothing of myself. It is the life of the Father." (John 5:30) Picture an empty well. We are the empty wells and we need water for our garden. Where and Who is the Source of your water?
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