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.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:1-6).
It is never too early to start thinking about your legacy.
What do you want to leave your children and the people who know you? I don’t mean physical things. I mean the things that count. The life and death things. As Christian women, we need to leave our children a legacy of faith.
Genesis 12 through 23 reveals how Sarah lived out her faith and how that translated in a legacy of faith for Isaac.
The Holy Spirit is very gracious in showing this incredible woman’s failings and lapses of faith as well as her successes, so that we don’t think, “Sarah was a superwoman! I can never be like her.” Sarah wasn’t a perfect woman, but her God was.
We all have our lapses of faith. But, like God was gracious to Abraham and Sarah, so he is to us. I think Sarah must have had many quiet repentant moments inside her tent that were wholly between her and God and not recorded for us. But what is recorded leaves us a picture of a faithful, holy woman. That is what Peter called her in 1 Peter 3:5.
Isaac, her son, must have heard the story of God speaking to Abraham and telling him to leave everything, pack up and hit the trail with God as his GPS. He heard how Sarah had downsized and followed his father. How she had gone from a well-supplied home to living in tents.
Isaac must have heard over and over again about her long wait for him. How God had promised and how He had delivered.
He saw her obedience to Abraham and perhaps heard how Abraham had asked her to say she was his sister when he felt threatened and how Sarah had obeyed at great risk to herself. Remember, Isaac did the same in Genesis 26.
She must have lived a fearless life before him knowing that God was able. Isaac was, besides Abraham, closes to his mother and knew her heart; that when the trials and afflictions of life came Sarah demonstrated the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4).
Isaac must have been able to see God’s blessings upon his mother because her behavior was precious in the sight of God. And most of all he must have sat at her feet and heard her speak of God and her faith.
A good first step in leaving a faithful legacy would be to pattern ourselves after Sarah.
Peter said we are her daughters “if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1 Peter 3:6).
She shows us how to pass on a legacy of faith to our children and our family. Some of you have already raised your children and didn’t pass on a legacy of faith either because you didn’t know Jesus or because you just failed to do so.
It is not too late.
Study 1 Peter 3:1-5. See the different attributes of a “holy woman”. Ask God to create these in you. People will notice. Your children will notice.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18).
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.
“In a fallen world, we must be willing to face the fact that however lovingly we preach the gospel, if a man rejects it he will be miserable. It is dark out there.”
― Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
We are seeing today darkness becoming increasingly darker.
Jesus laid it out: And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed (John 3: 19-20)
The light that came into the world is Jesus.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Remember, dear Sister, when you deal with someone who doesn’t share your faith, the light they think they see is darkness and until they repent and believe it will stay so. Deal with them in mercy; tell them the truth.
Remember, dear Sister, ours is a light that can never be extinguished. Our light is from the eternal Son of God. Live like children of the light.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15).
Remember, dear Sister, only Jesus can dispel the darkness, but he has called us to be a flashlight in the world.