Apart

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5, emphasis mine

I've been sitting with this verse for several weeks. It hit me while I was down, and then proceeded to lift me up.

God works best when our egos get out of His way, when we acknowledge that we are weak.

Lord, I can't do anything without You.

That is the cry of someone who is about to be empowered and changed.

For a long time I've been doing everything I can in my power to live well, in a way that honors God and blesses people. Every time I would say or do something that was a little out of place, I would get worked up about it and worry for hours or days (or weeks or months) that people took it the wrong way or got offended or didn't understand what I meant, etc. etc. I went out of my way sometimes to make sure the person understood my meaning, but more often than not, it made the situation more awkward or just plain worse.

For two years now I've been trying to figure out how to be a good wife and maintain a home and a life and get all the things done that I think God wants me to do. And it's not happening. And I've been discouraged. Just when I feel like I've made a breakthrough in one area, for example, cooking healthy meals regularly, another aspect of one of my various roles in life collapses.

Or, I'll have so many wonderful, exciting things happening in my life, and one day I'll be rejoicing about them and reveling in the sunshine and the next day I don't want to get out of bed. And there's no reason to want to stay in bed; I have every reason to want to live through my day full of good and happy things, but I can't shake the cloud hanging over me.

The moral of the story is, Faith was trying to serve the Lord in her power.

Then the Holy Spirit knocked me upside the head during Bible study a couple months ago.

Apart from Me, you can do nothing.

In my natural human tendency toward pride, I had been saying to God, "Hold on a minute. Let me try to do this. Then I'll seek You." And so He let me. Because He allows us to choose.

I was trying to live apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of the risen Christ and the authority of God the Father. I was placing God Almighty on a back burner while I and my ego floundered, trying to make it through a day without screwing up too much.

And all that time I could have been abiding in Him and living in His power!

Apart from Christ I can do nothing good, nothing worthwhile, nothing to honor my Lord. Apart from Him I cannot guard my tongue or say the right, beneficial, uplifting thing. Apart from Him I cannot balance my responsibilities and roles. Apart from Him I cannot live joyfully.

I know I want to abide in Him, but how?

1) I acknowledge my weakness. I confess to the Creator of heaven and earth that I can't do it all, and I certainly can't do it right.

2) I give Him my best. The best part of my day, my first fruits. I seek Him and His kingdom first, and then the rest will be added. For me, that means I must give Him the first minutes of my day. That is my best, no matter how tired or rushed I am. If I don't seek Him first, I'll squeeze Him in last, and that does not honor my Father.

3) I ask Him to empower me to do what He wants me to do, not what I think I need to do. There have been a couple times I've thought I should go to something that God told me not to and a couple times I've thought I should say no to something that He told me to do. He blesses me when I obey.

4) I keep my eyes open for how He is moving around and through me and my ears open to listen for His leading. This is a moment-by-moment practice. I can't just listen for the first five minutes of the day and then go throughout my day expecting to hear God. I have to be intentional in each moment and situation to prop open my sleepy eyelids and unplug my stuffy ears.

5) I trust Him to take care of it. All the stuff. Like last night when I said some stuff at a meeting and then worried all the way home that people misunderstood it and either thought I was a whole lot more messed up than I am or that I was a whole lot more prideful than I was trying to be. I ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart and when He reveals to me that my heart was indeed right before Him and others and I don't need to apologize, I have to let it go and entrust my reputation and relationships to the Lord.

Anything good I do apart from the leading and presence of God is nothing. It is filthy rags. But when I cling to Him, seek Him, and listen to Him throughout each element of my day, I see His hand really does lead me and His heart really is for me.

Apart from Him I can do nothing. In Him, I can do anything.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello! I'm Faith. I'm a verbal processor who wants to love the Lord and love people with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I write to think and think to write. I don't drink coffee. I am a dogless dog lover. I enjoy hosting large parties in my home, and I enjoy being alone. Join me in looking to Him and pursuing A Radiant Face.

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