I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me...that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1,2 From what I understand, important to the process of growing grapes is pruning the vine. Now I am definitely not a gardener! So if I have ever pruned anything, I've done a very wimpy job of it.
I was shocked just a few weeks ago when we visited a vineyard in Temecula Valley, CA. John & I had traveled there to help our daughter and son-in-law move into the house they were renting. I told Beth I'd like to see a real grape vineyard "in person" because of John 15 and this new website. So off we went!
Now in my mind I was thinking at least green and lush...after all, this was Southern California and tulips and flowering trees were blooming. But NO! What I saw was vine after vine with absolutely NOTHING on them. I could just barely see little stubs attached. Those were the branches!
Oh my! Talk about instant spiritual lesson! Have you ever felt like a little stub of a branch, stripped bare? Over the course of my sixty-plus years, I have many a time.
One of the times that was most painful was when we first moved to Ohio about 25 years ago. That was at a time when I didn't really know the unconditional love of my Father-God apart from my performance. I was trying to earn his love and acceptance by doing all the Christian stuff. (I was trying to earn what, in reality, I already had).
My health was breaking because of strange reactions to chemicals, molds, foods, and who knows what else. Since there was little understanding in the traditional medical community at that time, I was deemed a hypochondriac who needed anti-depressants. It was then that I started into anxiety/panic attacks. My doctor put me on Xanax. It helped me sleep, but I still had the reactions and the panic attacks.
This was a huge blow to me as a Christian working for my sanctification. But the Lord was pruning me, freeing me from my performance addiction and attaching me to Himself alone as my support and deliverance. Since the only Scriptures that made sense to me during that time were the Psalms, God spoke to me there:
When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:3,4
First of all He said to me, "When you are afraid..." not "Shame on you for being afraid...". That was freeing because I lived with such self-condemnation because of the attacks.
Then He said, "Use those first inklings of panic as a signal to turn your attention to Me and trust me." So those panic attacks started to become a "place of worship" for me. Previously when I was in the car driving with my two young children in the back seat and I started into an attack, I'd make it worse by freaking out that I was going to kill my kids. After the Lord gave me my signal, I would instead focus on Him praising and trusting in my Deliverer. ("We become like what we focus on" is a spiritual principle...but that's for another blog).
Little by little, as I turned to the Lord each time the panic started, deliverance came. My allergies and sensitivities continued to get worse. Some still continue to this day. But the panic is gone. I've come to know and trust my God on a deeper level than ever before. And I've come to know His unconditional love, which is a greater treasure than perfect health.
I have met many women who suffer from anxiety/panic attacks. Why? Probably for each one there is a unique physical, emotional, even spiritual reason. The one thing I know is that God can use it to deepen a woman's dependence and trust in her Father-God. It can truly be a "Key to the Kingdom."
My son [daughter], do not regard lightly the discipline [pruning] of the Lord...for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines [prunes]...All discipline [pruning] for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet...afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:5,6,11