I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. – John 15:1-8

A few years ago we bought several forsythia plants for the south side of our house. The south side was always our least favorite side of the house to look at and forsythia is a fast-growing bush. The idea was to let it grow wild and hide as much of that side as possible from view. The first year was great and the bushes began stretching tall. After just a few years, they had each quintupled in size and covered nearly the entirety of the side of the house; even mostly covering the ground floor windows. In truth, I enjoyed feeling that I was protected, hidden, and enveloped by the tall, leafy branches whenever I stood looking out from the first floor bathroom window. In all actuality, the thing I wanted to hide was, in fact, hidden but it really didn’t look that great.

Last week my husband decided to go out and trim the bushes. He cut them back so far that I gasped when I saw what he was doing! He cut them almost halfway back and rounded their tops. They no longer pushed into each other but now each bush had its own space to occupy. The view from inside no longer mimics a leafy fortress. The peeling paint on the first floor windows is now once again visible to everyone. The bushes looked nicer but now all of my house’s flaws that I was trying to hide with their overgrowth had been revealed. I couldn’t see it to begin with but those overgrown bushes represented something spiritual in my life and their pruning parallels my own current situation.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV

There’s a moment when we all have to look back and then look forward and just trust God in the here and now. This has been a year of incredible growth for my family but it has been equally hallmarked by pain and loss. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, I have alse experienced great pressure, far beyond my ability to endure. I, too, despaired of life itself in these last weeks and months. During these last 12 months, I have never felt such deep hurt in my entire life. There is nothing that has compared to the heart-wrenching ache that has crippled me over these last several months. Every single situation that has caused me pain was completely out of my control and as wave after wave of hard news beat against the shore of my weary soul, the only thing I had left to do was stand. I had to rely on God.

On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. – 2 Corinthians 1:11

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful creator in doing what is right. – 1 Peter 4:19, NASB

As I sit here and reflect, I am astonished at the changes that have happened in so short a time. Our priorities as a family have been re-ordered. Years-long relationships have now been uprooted. Ministry goals have been redirected. Even our beloved dog died. (He was the best dog ever.) I could sit here and feel sorry for myself (which is what I was doing about 15 minutes ago), or I could realize that God is fashioning something beautiful as he tends my previously-neglected garden. He has removed the unhealthy branches from my life. Relationships I once hid behind and depended on to shelter me from things I didn’t want to look at have vanished. Even as I write these words I am in awe of how deeply and personally God loves me. In the devastating, crippling pain of it all, He loves me and He has a plan. Now that I can see more clearly and the brush is gone, I realize that those things and those people that I was holding on to distracted me from a deeper relationship with my Savior.

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. – James 5:11 NIV

God’s plan is always the best plan. Let me say that again: God’s plan is always the best plan. There is no other plan I want to live by. The difficulty comes in trusting His plan even when it hurts. He is carefully adding new people and experiences to my life. I am cautious and I still need a full healing but I am trusting His leading. Relying on Him has helped me to have peace in the midst of all of this trauma. Peace is something that is very hard for me to attain and to maintain. In Psalm 29, David writes, “Ascribe to the LORD, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” The first ten verses of this psalm all describe the thundering fury of God’s voice and the changes in the earth that follow when He speaks. Did the people run and hide? Did they question? Did they turn from God? No, the people cried “Glory!” and as a result, he blessed them with peace!

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. – Hebrews 13:20-21

God cares more about you than he cares about your social life or your house or your job. He will speak into your life and you may perceive it to be devastating but do this: wait, stand, watch, trust, pray, cry “Glory!” and He will complete the good work that He started in your life just as He is now doing in mine. Today is a new day. God has a plan and it is a good plan. As I move forward I am lighter. I have more freedom. I have a deeper connection with my Maker.

Tremble (Mosaic MSC)
Peace, bringing it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at Your name
Still, call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Breathe, then call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Songwriters: Andres Figueroa / Hank Bentley / Mariah Mcmanus / Mia Fieldes | Tremble lyrics © Essential Music Publishing

Views All Time
Views All Time
112
Views Today
Views Today
3