Whenever I brave the steamy Texas air this time of year to manicure my dying landscape I am very much reminded that we are still clinging to the last remnants of Summer.
One of these many outdoor bits of fun recently involved trimming an overtly large – bush – for lack of a valid plant-like description. A long several minutes of electric hedge clippers still ringing in my ears and the pavement below revealed a mass of clippings, leaves and small branches.
So, like any great husband, I forget to clean it up for maybe 3-5 days (as long as I eventually do it, I can still retain the title “great” husband!). Today, as I was outside washing one of our vehicles, I noticed these same clippings are now “withered” for reasons we are obviously aware of.
Sometimes, the “heat” of the summers in our lives just cause us to wither, and that in itself brings up a great question:
Ever feel like a clipping that was just snipped off and allowed to fall against the temperature rich pavement?
Yes, we all go through the valleys of gloomy times, of relationship issues, enduring things that break (sometimes constantly), and certainly the routine doubts, fears, highs and lows of what we commonly call LIFE.
That’s where the 15th chapter of the book of John comes to focus.
“Remain in my love.” – Jesus says.
Before this, He states that everyone that does not remain in Him is “thrown aside like a branch that withers”.
“Thrown aside” – “withered”…That’s strong language!
We can quickly identify with what a “withered” anything would look like! Think of the times we push forward, work hard, give it our all and often collapse at the end exhausted and totally spent. Hear me say there is NOTHING wrong with hard work and fulfilling our responsibilities as husbands, wives, fathers and mothers – and certainly as managers, employees, etc.
Rather, the focus that Jesus brings to the front of our lives is not a rebuke for what we should do better, it is a gracious INVITATION.
The focus of this life tends to shift our gaze to what we don’t yet have and what we have yet to do. And all to often, it is so incredibly easy to function in our independence that we forget we were initially programmed for “dependence”. Try as we might, we need others, just as we need the Lord.
The premise of how this works lies in the 7th verse of John 15:
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
We know that Scripture says that the chief desire of Man is to be loved. So, in a sense, God is telling us that the truest of all our desires is to be LOVED. And this also happens to be His greatest longing for us – that we would receive His love.
You can be the best parent in the world, the most decorated soldier, the greatest CEO, a parent, grand-parent and employee…and the list of hats we can wear goes on. None of these, however, has any lasting effect without the simple ingredient that Jesus says is required to be His friend. Namely that we LOVE.
Without it we are merely “noisy”, as 1 Corinthians 13 states, BUT with it, we earn the incredible title of “Friend of God”.
Think of it: The desires of our heart being fully known and emphatically ours for the asking, plus the unspeakable privilege of knowing God as our friend; and this comes merely by our choosing to LOVE Him.
We may try to complicate it further by slicing how we get there, but it all comes down to L-O-V-E.
Want to be a better boss? >>> Dare to Love unsparingly
Want to be a better parent? >>> Dare to Love unceasingly
Want to be a better friend? >>> Dare to love compassionately
Want to realize the benefits of having God as a friend >>> LOVE Him and watch what happens!
~ “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” – Proverbs 17:17.