This post isn't seeker-sensitive. It isn't touchy-feely. It isn't for the faint of heart. It is raw. It is me. It is what the Lord spoke to me this weekend.
Sunday night's sermon took me back.
Sunday morning...helping lead worship took me back.
Back to a time when the pruning in my life never seemed to be coming to an end. And where God took me to writing this is less about the actual experience itself and more about the Truth behind it all.
Those who know me know what happened. Sunday morning Hubs and I led Jason Morrant's "Love Song". As we sang it I looked at him and said , "It was 3 years go today that our redemption began thru this very song."
Then our our pastor began to teach Sunday night on the Vine and the Vinedresser. I thought to myself, I've heard this before.
Then the Lord revealed that oh, no I hadn't.
Some of what I'm blogging here, more for myself and to document this than anything, are direct notes from his sermon. But some of it is where the Lord took me.
He started talking about a grapevine that used to be on his farm. It produced fruit. Big, pretty, showy fruit. Delicious fruit. Tasteful fruit. Can sometimes even be much fruit. His mom pruned it. Snipped at it to keep it growing. And it sufficed.
Until a real Husbandman came on the scene and whacked it to pieces. Or so it seemed. Because here was the thing...even though the fruit was there and was growing for years... it had never reached its potential until the vinedresser who saw the bigger picture unveiled its true fruit.
That's just how I have been at times. Can anyone relate? Nevermind, this is just for me. This reveals the first 'verse'...My Fruit Yield vs His Fruit Yield
I do this. I am weighed down with big and showy and beautiful fruit and I look at it and see areas that I think need pruned and I get out the teeny tiny pruners and clip-clip-clip. And when more fruit grows I say, "see me? aren't I pretty?" I tout this and that as fruit because isn't that what we as Christians always throw around? "Where is the fruit?" So I wave mine...right here! Right here~!
But in actually I'm seeing that most of the time it isn't really fruit. Then I thought about this one...is it fruit or is it works? So there's another one. Fruit vs Works.
The fruit the True Vinedresser looks for the Christlikeness (Galatians 5). But wait...my stuff is flashy and pretty! But it's just works. Dead works...dead ideas. WOW! And then He takes me one step further. In order to be productive enough to produce His Fruit Yield, I must be willing to submit myself to pruning.
And pruning it healthy. Does it hurt? Depends on if I am still feeding it...letting it live and breathe or if I have realized what it is doing in my live and starved it. Dead things being pruned won't hurt. Live things that I've held onto and fed will hurt deeply.
And this is where The True Vinedresser shows another 'verse'...pruning sheers vs loppers. How much room have I given this stuff in my life? Can He continue shaping me gently...snipping and snapping as I allow His best for me bring out His plan for me or does he need to get out the loppers? The BIG cutters that take a little more effort for me to watch and listen to it being cut out of my life...alive...attached to me...
And when Wayne said 'no matter how long you wait, God always has a tool to deal with something in your life'...I felt all lopped and snipped off ends that are now healed with the Salve of the Holy Spirit rejoice and stand in agreement as a testimony to those areas that I still feed.
So where do "seasons" fall into this? Yes, those times when I try to convince myself that I'm not dormant...I'm still producing~! Come On People! I'm just in a season of dormancy! The life is still flowing.
Seasons vs Plateaus
It wasn't a season. Not really. Seasons for the vine will show life still. I can snap the branch and see the life even if need be. But one thing is for sure...the fruit it maturing...
It was a plateau. And a plateau is just a fancy imagery way of saying that I tried to self prune as a substitute for allowing God to do what needed to be done. It was really a spot I had come to where I wasn't actively seeking to go higher and farther. Oh sure...I can say I am. I can speak the church-y talk and use all the new catch phrases that I've picked up on in my small group. I can tell you all day long that I'm different. And I am. I am plateaued. And guess where the only place to go from here is?
Oh, but I can still keep up the talk. Trying to convince you that life is grand and that I'm onward and upward. But the proof is in the fruit.
I'm heading back to the grapevine this started with. What should those grapes have been? Nice, pretty, flashy grapes that Mrs. Sissy worked so hard to grow?
...Or life-giving food that the Vine intended to be able to be used to give Life to others. Proof of its full potential...
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
THIS is the fruit that can only be produced by the Holy Spirit. Nothing I can do will ever produce this. And it's not part of what my pastor calls the cafeteria plan. I can't pick and choose which of those attributes of the fruit fit me. I need to allow the Vinedresser to prune and lop and water and care for so that the entire list of attributes make my fruit be life-giving.
Because that, my friends, will be a contagious life!
One with no 'verses' in sight.