Have you ever felt like you are just going through the motions, as though your body is on auto-pilot? It knows the routine of the day and night, and you just do it.
You feel completely detached from the people around you. You are present, but you’re not there. Perhaps it's worrying from work, stressors in life, or maybe it’s fears about the future. These and a host of other concerns can leave us feeling lifeless. Whatever the reason is for this disconnect, the pathway to a solution begins with “checking your connection.”
I have found time and time again that the problems and concerns of life only throw me off balance when I take my eyes off the One who steadies it all. That One is Jesus Christ. I have a saying that goes, “See God rightly, live life rightly.” Here’s what I mean: when I believe the truth about who God is, what He has accomplished in my redemption, and how He is at work for good in my life, I will not only enjoy the peace of Christ which surpasses all human peace, but I will also flourish despite the circumstances.
In the gospel of John, chapter fifteen and verses 1 through 11, Jesus teaches us how this is possible:
John 15:1–11 (ESV)
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Here, Jesus uses the imagery of a vine, likely a grapevine, to describe how fruitfulness and joy in life come from the practice of dependent prayer. In verse 2, Jesus says that fruitful branches are pruned so that they produce more fruit. Verse 3 speaks of the word or teaching of Jesus as the pruning tool that God the Father, the pruner, uses. Abiding in Christ, or maintaining a connection with Christ, is the way that fruitfulness happens according to verse 4.
Moreover, verse 7 gives us a picture of what how this connection looks. It’s prayer! A life lived in dependent prayer. When Jesus says, “. . . ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. . .” This is an act of prayer. We need not be fearful of asking for “anything,” because when we are in intimate fellowship with God through Christ, the Holy Spirit will aid us in asking for what is in line with the will of God.
Now, lest we miss the point, allow me to point out that our peace of mind and joyful fruitfulness in Christ is not the end goal. Those are promises that come with this intimate connection. The end goal is the glory of God, which is the result of our fruitfulness and also the assurance that we are Christ’s disciples. That is glory upon glory and blessing upon blessing.
And yet there is still one more question. Ultimately, how will this life-giving connection to Jesus affect us? We will love as Jesus has loved.
Well, that’s verses 12 through 17 and, God-willing, we will bask in their riches in next month’s devotion.
Yours in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis