This is my 31st and final blog post for the Write 31 Days challenge, which I signed up to four days late.
Today I reach the end of the 31 Day Writing challenge. I’m tired and struggling with grief, so am going to share something I wrote a few weeks back, to encourage both you and me to seek after the One, who yearns to embrace us, scars and all. Thank you to those of you who have joined me on this journey.
Today’s incourage.me Scripture (Galatians 5: 22) and today’s sermon on relationships have planted seeds of reflection that have sat with me throughout today and especially during my run tonight. The Scripture reads: “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (Galatians 5: 22 TLB). And we are also taught to abide in the Vine: to abide in the LORD, and that He will then abide in us to bring forth this fruit.
When I think back to situations I have followed little nudgings of the Spirit, every single time I’ve also felt a natural inclination to resist. But where I choose in that moment to abide in Him, I follow the little nudging, resisting fear, embarrassment, shame, even anger. And where I choose to abide in myself, I clothe myself in the fear, shame and anger. These nudgings have also come in moments I have actively sought out God’s presence, in His Word, in prayer, in worship. The more I seek His Presence, the more He makes Himself known to me.
He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.
I incline toward anything that is safe.
He is the Giver of Grace.
I incline toward clothing myself and others in guilt and shame.
He releases and gives (His Son, free will).
I incline toward holding on (anger and bitterness) and taking what I want.
He chooses and has chosen the path of pain for the sake of LOVE.
I incline toward protecting myself from feeling pain for the sake of self-preservation.
He accepts and loves people where they’re at, transforming them through His patient love that sees beyond behaviour to the heart.
I struggle to accept them where they’re at and expect them to think, feel, act as I would and feel hurt when they don’t.
He expresses His anger and grief in words and tears, cultivating true relationship.
I incline toward suppressing it and harvesting anger and bitterness, while cultivating superficial relationships.
Kara Tippetts wrote about intentional living in her last days of life and asked us to consider why it is we often wait till we realize we are dying before we become truly intentional in our lives. And this was something today’s sermon also convicted me of. Am I living intentionally? Am I choosing to abide in the Vine?
I am given repeated choices throughout my day to stop and pray God’s Truth into my mind and heart, or to hold onto anger, bitterness and shame. I can stop and speak God’s peace into situations of stress, or mouth words of unkindness. I am given the choice to dwell on my loss, or to speak the truth of Heaven’s promises into my soul. I can hide my anger and grief from those I love, or I can share them in a loving and gracious way. I can stop expecting and ask God to show me how to love others where they are at right now, naming and feeling the loss of a love I have been craving from them for so long and asking God to fill this loss for me.
What I have noticed is that the more I CHOOSE to abide in Him and forsake my natural inclinations, the more my natural inclinations start mirroring Him. But it is a continual battle. And one He says will continue until death: until true wholeness comes in Him. And so, I must keep choosing to “Trust (lean on, feel safe, be confident) in the LORD forever, for Yah the LORD is an everlasting Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4). I must keep turning to Him, when my insides scream for me to turn and hide. I must keep speaking His Words of Truth into my soul, when anger and bitterness attempt to pull me back and capture me. I must choose to recite Scriptures of a Hope in Heaven and Restoration, when images of despair and pain attempt to pull me under. I must choose to lift prayers in full assurance of the goodness of God, when hopelessness and the pain of empathy prevail. I must choose to be myself before God, to cry, be angry, give words to that which holds me, so that His Presence can release me from its hold.
John 15:5 (NIV)
“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.”