For instance, I once read an article by B. H. Shaddock that said water gets heavier as it gets colder. Scientists would assure us that this is a fixed law, eternally unalterable, if they had not seen ice. Heavy ice would settle to the bottom. Lakes and rivers would freeze solid. Icebergs below the surface would endanger shipping. Animals could not cross streams in winter.
Some years ago the landscapers we hired to do our yard work took small white rocks from our front yard and dumped them into the flower beds in our back yard. Which is what we wanted them to do, but they dumped them on my plants.
As I was digging the rocks out of my plants and away from their stems, I thought of the rocky places in our lives (like the year 2020). Those plants couldn’t rid themselves of the rocks without my help, so we need help to get through the rocky places in our lives.
Where do you look for help? I hope you look to the Rock Conqueror: The Lord Jesus Christ. David certainly did. He spent many years in the wilderness hiding from Saul who was trying to kill him. He knew rocks. But, he also knew the Rock who was his God. The Psalms of David are full of descriptions of God as David’s rock.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2).
For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God (Psalm 18:31)?
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation (Psalm 18:46).
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock (Psalm 27:5).
To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit (Psalm 28:1).
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3).
Paul also referred to Jesus as a rock.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).
The small white rocks in my yard could be moved or crushed, but the Rock that David relied upon and the Rock that the Israelites drank from can’t be moved or crushed. He is the rock crusher. He is the conqueror of the rocky patches in our lives.
Take the rocky places in your life to the Rock Crusher.
This morning when I set my heart to pray I was overwhelmed with all the things in my world that needed prayer. Some things I had been praying for so long, I groaned at doing it again. Some things seemed so huge and impossible, I groaned at the inconceivability of an answer. Some things so desperate, I groaned in helplessness.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
But, I was before the Throne of Grace. I was where prayers, no matter how long they have been prayed, no matter how huge and desperate are answered. Overwhelmed, but aware of where I was, I laid it all down at the Throne and asked for God’s will to be done. In humbleness and helplessness is where glory intersects human need.
In the midst of writing this post, I got word that a specific prayer from yesterday was answered yesterday. So, when I am overwhelmed, it is good to go before the Throne of Grace, where help, grace, and hope are found, and in humbleness and helplessness remember how God has answer prayer upon prayer and if all I can get out is Your will be done Jesus, that is enough.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:2-5)
This is the year of pruning.
Snip, snip, snip.
But why Lord, wasn’t this good stuff?
To bear more fruit.
Okay, but when I think I am bearing more fruit, you snip.
God keeps sniping until he gets the branch just the way He wants it.
My great-granddaughter, Lillie Mae, decided this morning her name was Schoolbus. She is quiet insistent. She is three, so she can get away with changing her name. When I received the text telling me of the name change, I was reading John 15 and decided I would change my name to Branch.
After all, that is what I am. I am not the vine — that’s Jesus. I am not the sap — that’s the Holy Spirit, not spelled out in John 15, but implied, I think. I am certainly not the vinedresser — that is God the Father. I am the branch that grows or abides, as Jesus says, in the vine.
If I am bearing fruit by the strength and power and nourishment of the Holy Spirit, I will be pruned. That is what happens to branches on physical vines. Or bushes. Or trees. It is an easy allegory to understand, even if you are a city girl. You pinch flowers off your house plants so more buds may grow.
If I am a branch abiding in the vine, living a fruitful branch life, for my sake and the Gospel’s, I will need pruning. Even good things can become too much. Or I can go off the rails and get involved in things that don’t bring God glory. Maybe, Jesus just wants to change my direction.
Do you feel like 2020 was/is pruning season? I sure do. It hasn’t been a little snip here and a little snip there. It has been lop here and lop there. And from that pruning other fruit has appeared, hence this blog.
If Lillie can be Schoolbus, I most certainly am Branch.
What if we were able to keep our imaginations pure and believing and vibrant as a three year old? That is for another post. I have to rev up my imagination to imagine having an imagination of a sweet, delightful three year old girl.