This happens to me a lot. Maybe it's because I'm slow to hear God and he has to tell me four or five times before it sinks into my busy brain. But I love when it happens! To me, it's evidence of the Holy Spirit saying "Listen! I have something for you!" A reminder that God speaks to me personally. And I need that reminder sometimes!
That happened twice this weekend, and between the two things the Lord spoke to me, I was released from some burdens I had been carrying around unnecessarily and found tremendous freedom in my life.
Self-condemnation and guilt that I was placing upon myself, always creeping in sneakily from the back of my mind melted away. I am refreshed and want to share briefly one of the things the Lord spoke to me...maybe someone reading needs to hear the same and can be encouraged. That's my prayer!
Let me give you a couple of scriptures first:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him...
Here's one of the burdens I've been carrying: guilt at the imperfections in my life. The fruits of the Spirit that I'm not so good at. The areas in which I fail daily and wake up determined to fix. Well I was reading last night out of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. She was talking about abiding in Christ. How He is the Vine and I am a branch off of that vine...apart from Him I am nothing and can do nothing! It's not enough to be associated with Jesus...we need to be acquainted with Him! And the more acquainted with Jesus we are, the more He can work in our lives, thus changing us.
What? I don't have to strive to be better and better every day and feel like a failure every night when I go to bed and think about everything I did wrong all day? Yup. Sure thing! (This is not to say I should take sin in my life lightly and laugh over it...quite the opposite. We are to grieve our sin, ask forgiveness and turn from it. But we are also to receive forgiveness!)
"All of our [striving] will never accomplish what Jesus can when we let him have his way in our life."
I love that. It makes me realize that no matter how hard I try and try and try, Jesus is the only one who can change me, and He will if I surrender to Him! Another quote from the book that I have to add is this (paraphrased a bit):
"I missed the point for a long time, concentrating on the "fruit" of my own personal holiness that I missed out on the connection, the sweet intimacy of being attached to the vine.
And as a result, what I tried to do was as ludicrous as an apple tree branch trying to produce apples by it's own effort--separate from the tree!"
That is so me! Thinking about which fruit needs work and trying desperately to change myself, instead of saturating myself in the Word and in prayer and time with God, letting Him change me! And trying to do it myself leads to failure, which leads to self-condemnation...not conviction which is a good thing, a gift from the Holy Spirit.
I'll end with a quote from a devotional from She Reads Truth that I just read this morning, which tied in so nicely with all I had been reading in the book...
Our roots need to continue their growth.
We need to, each day, spend time and seek a heart more like His. Not so that we can wake up better...
but to wake up each morning renewed by his grace and made more beautiful by His mercies.
So well put! Remember how I was saying God will use several different sources telling me the same thing to get the point across to me sometimes? Well there was the book, then this morning there was no updated devotional (I do them online at shereadstruth.com) so I literally picked a totally random devotional from last year having no idea what it would be about. What do ya know, it was the same topic...stop striving, Crystal! Last but not least, I had received a text from a girlfriend yesterday that said,
"Stop beating yourself up and ENJOY today with your beautiful family! Be present and enjoy the blessings all around you! Remember our failures just bring us closer to Jesus, so it's good to mess up from time to time...It just means we have to go to him for help! I just felt like you really needed to hear that...Stop being perfect and JUST BE!"
Yeah...I definitely got the message. Sorry I'm a slow listener! Thanks, God:)