The most painful part of my life, was the time I gave everything to Jesus. It wasn’t painful because I gave everything to Jesus, it was painful because a whole lot of pain is what it took for me to finally give Him my all. Seriously, you guys. I am nothing if not a stubborn person.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I went through a serious illness. It took many years to diagnose and then a few more years to treat. And those years were hard beyond words. But they were also the best years of my life in ways I couldn’t see until that phase was way back in my rear view mirror. I call them blessed years now, because that’s when I really started walking with our Lord.
Can I confess to you guys that I miss that period of time in a lot of ways?
I don’t miss the physical pain or the fear or the thousands and thousands of dollars it took to keep this body going even with some of the best health insurance money can buy. That stuff still scares me to death. What I do miss though is that closeness I had with Jesus. Give me a bunch of scary stuff, and you can be sure I’m going to be reaching out to grab hold of God’s hand for dear life.
(Jesus) I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. – John 15:9 (NLT)
Those two years that I’m talking about also involved a whole lot of change. Because we can’t grab God’s hand and stay in His love and not be changed by the process. A lot of that meant letting go of my ways, my thoughts, my dreams, and my ideas of what my life should and shouldn’t look like and learning more about God’s ways and thoughts, the dreams He has planned for me, and His ideas of what my life should and shouldn’t look like.
Surrender is always harder than it sounds. But I can also say from experience that it is the most rewarding thing that we can do.
(Jesus) I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. – John 15:1-4 (NLT)
It sure does feel a lot like pruning. It involves cutting lots of things off so that we can bloom even bigger and brighter than before.
Here’s the thing. I’m only two and a half years into this life post-pruning. I had lots of things cut off, and honestly – I don’t miss those things at all. Someday I really will get around to sharing with you guys all the super hard letting go that I willingly and not so willingly went through in those years. Promise. But even the best pruned plant needs a touch up after a period of time or they’ll once again be overgrown and out of control. Old blooms will take up the energy needed for new buds to form.
Friends, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m in need of a good pruning. My life is cluttered. My time is stretched thin. I’m still learning how to be a wife, a sister, a friend, a neighbor, a writer, and an employee all at the same time. I know it takes lots and lots of love and lots and lots of patience. And I also know I can’t do it alone.
This Lent, instead of giving up anything in particular, I’m trying to give Jesus my all again and go back to where it started.
For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
This is really a continuation of being still (which is my word of 2013), but it helps to have Lent to keep me on track for the next 5 weeks. In the past two years, I realized how easy it is for me to slip away from Jesus when I’m feeling good. It’s easy to get caught up in the tide of things I need to do, responsibilities I have, and even the things I’m doing because I love Him. It’s easy to live a life of service for Him, without actually spending any time with Him.
It’s absolutely crazy how easy it is to slip back into doing certain things on your own strength when you actually have the strength to do it. And can I just say this is way harder than I thought it would be? Have you ever noticed how when you commit to doing something like reading the Bible every day, your brain will come up with one million excuses as to why you should be doing something else in that moment of time?
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you guys encouraging me along the way. I’m loving the way my real life friends and blog-friends and blog-friends who are real life friends point me back to Jesus time and time again. If I’m a little slow on email, Facebook, or in stopping by to say hi these days, it’s because I’m slowing down and trying to spend more alone time with our Savior, soaking in His love, exploring His Word, and laying all sorts of prayers at His feet for myself, the people I love, and for you. I absolutely love being reminded that I’m not in control, but the One who is loves us more than we could ever know. And that is the reason for living.
I’m joining Bonnie Gray and all of the amazing Faith Jammers at Faith Barista!
P.S. Did you read about the changes coming to the blog? Things will look different very soon! I’m trying to play it cool, but I can’t wait to show you around the new place in the near future.