Stripped Bare? Why me?

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 a few years 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 at the time.  I told Beth I'd like to see a real grape vineyard "in person" because of John 15 and my blog.  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 30 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 the Lord 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, or 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."

 

I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:3

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

Welcome to the Vineyard

Welcome to the Father’s Vineyard.

I’m a branch in the True Vine…just a branch…but a beloved one.  I’m not THE branch, for there are many…multitudes, in fact, from every tongue and family and tribe and nation.

But I am in THE Vine.  There is only One, you know, in the Father’s Vineyard.  The True Vine is more than enough to supply life to all of us beloved branches.  And fruit?  You should see the baskets full that come when each of us branches really makes its home (“abides”) in Christ, the Father’s glorious Vine! (John 15:1-5)

I didn’t always know and experience the life of belovedness, rest, fruitfulness, and joy that are mine as a branch in the Vine.  For many years as a branch, I grunted and groaned trying to produce fruit of many kinds—developing Christian character, loving the unlovely, teaching the Bible, winning the lost, encouraging other branches, etc etc.  Oh, I drew upon the life of the Vine…at least I thought I did.  But really there was often a mixture of His life and my (fleshly) life in it all.

Then at the end of my desperation (a branch can’t take that kind of barrenness and struggle for long), I heard my Father say to my heart, “I love you even if you never do another thing right again!”  It took me two years to believe that God had really said that to me.  Every time I would start to trust in the Father’s love, the enemy would come in and whisper… ”Did God really say that?  That’s too good to be true!”

Finally one day, I chose to believe that God truly loved me, His branch, despite my level of fruitfulness.  Nothing has been the same since.  And you know what?  I started seeing this very truth all over the Scriptures:

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God….and such we are! 1 John 3:1

The Father Himself loves you… John 16:27

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

So I say again, “Welcome to the Father’s Vineyard.”

Here you will encounter many & various Scriptures, metaphors, “pictures”, stories, and lessons.  But there will always be the same truth at the bottom of it all:

The Vine, our Lord Christ, is the All-Important One! We the branches are the beloved, cared for, and fruitful ones because of being connected to the Glorious Vine!

May our Father God, the Divine Husbandman (Owner-Gardener), use this series of Vine & branches entries to encourage your life in the Vine.  May you sink down deep into His Life and live from your union with Him day by day.  Then His life in & through you will produce much fruit as He promised.

I am the Vine, you are the branches; He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5