The neighbor's front lawn was speckled with clumps of colorful fabric. Pretty colors for sure, but you had no idea what you were looking at! Several hours later I drove past their home and I suddenly felt like a terribly missed friend returning after a long trip! Each one was swaying haphazardly, arms flailing in the air. We all should be welcomed home like that!
A smile crossed my lips as I sat on my porch and looked at my neighbor's lawn. I find it funny how God will use something so ordinary, to teach us something so profound.
Trying to live apart from Jesus....is lifeless.
Years ago when I made the choice to commit my life to Christ, God Himself came to live inside of me in the person of the Holy Spirit. (Revelation 3:20) I was in the sixth grade and to this day, I can remember an instant change. Excitement for this new relationship welled up within me. My life had been connected to an incredible power source, the Holy Spirit, and my life began to take on new shape! A desire for my own personal time studying the Word of God and prayer grew. Boldness to stand up for convictions in school became much easier.
Like my neighbor's lawn friends, everything changed when the power source was connected!
Jesus said in John 15:4, "Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
Jesus made it clear that He remains in me. He promises that He will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5). Apparently, I am the one with the leaving issues! He exhorts me to "remain" in Him and further down in verse 6 we read that if I do not remain in Him, I will be like a branch that is thrown away and withers and is ultimately burned.
Being fruitful is dependent upon staying connected to Him, the power source.
Those inflatables on the lawn had figured out this remaining issue! Their connection to the power source was intact and as soon as the compressor was turned on, those clumps of colorful fabric sprung to life, taking shape and dancing around. Could you image how foolish it would be if one of those inflatables decided one day, "I don't like to be stuck to that contraption all the time! I want to stand...over there...off by myself!" (Work with me, let's let the inflatable talk..AND walk!) Away from the air compressor- finally free!
Sitting on the grass, back in a clump of fabric. Lifeless. Without identity and purpose.
Remaining in Him means keeping myself right where He is. Here are a few questions I like to ask myself to help me determine if I am abiding/remaining in Him:
*Am I DOING, right now, what the Holy Spirit wants me to be DOING?
*Am I WITH those, right now, who the Holy Spirit want me to be WITH?
* Am I WHERE, right now, the very place the Holy Spirits wants me to be?
*Is the TIMING of what I am doing right now, the TIMING that the Holy Spirit desires?
Being able to answer each of those questions with a "YES" is a good indicator of my being connected to the Vine...my power source. If there are some "no's", then I would venture to say that somewhere, I stepped away. I am not connected, not standing over that "air compressor" of power! The Word of God is clear, without connection there will be no fruit.
I have learned this the hard way.
Attempting to bear fruit apart from the power of the Holy Spirit is as impossible as the lawn inflatable trying, with the best of intentions, to stand up tall without the force of air! I too have had the best of intentions: I will be kinder to that person who pushes my buttons, I will show greater self-control at the dessert buffet, I will not worry when I need to wait for my skin biopsy to come back. Sure, on my own effort, I might be able to be kind....for a moment, but lasting heart change requires the power of the Holy Spirit.
If your Christian life were an inflatable, would you be standing tall, dancing in the wind,
or laying in a colorful clump on the lawn?
Ask yourself those four questions and determine how your connection to the Vine is doing...for truly, HE is your source of power. Here's some great news: HE has never left you! If you have stepped away from being connected to the Vine, repent and position yourself back to where He is. Obedience places us right back where He is moving!
And watch, His mighty wind of His Spirit will lift you up again, He will restore identity, purpose and your life will become fruitful once again!
"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you-they are full of the Spirit and life."