Monday, September 24, 2007

The Vine......

Just a little bit of encouragement today.....
This Summer I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of teens at CrossWalk in Massachusetts. The pastor there was Robert Kumrey from Mercy house in Amherst Mass.
One morning during our leader's Bible study, we did a creative reading from John 15. Pastor Robert read it through once very slowly and had us listen and ask God to point out one word or phrase to us individually.
I had heard this passage so many times and doubted that I would get anything new from it no matter how slowly it was read, but I played along anyway.
To my surprise, I did hear something new! It was as if the words, "You are already clean!" were shouted directly to me...straight from God to my soul.
I have always struggled with guilt over past sins and feelings of inadequacy and just a general feeling of not being "special" enough for God to do big things through me.
If I really got honest and down the the heart of what I believed about myself, I saw someone who was rumpled, defeated, undeserving, sheepishly standing on the edges of God's grace, head down, fidgeting with my hands and hoping that maybe He would not notice that I had snuck in beside all the super Christians. I felt like my past had left me scarred, useless, wasted, dirty and certainly beyond the kind of restoration that brings perfect peace. I mean, I knew He loved me and all, but I thought that He was always looking at me with disappointment at all I was meant to be and wasn't. I knew that I was going to Heaven, but I didn't think that He was crazy about me and the mess I'd made of His Plan for my life.
..I would definitely not have ever called myself "already clean!" ...are you kidding? Me? Already clean? Didn't you see what I did last week/month/year?!
When I heard that portion of the scripture read, I didn't even have time to remind God of all the horrible things I had done, of all of the times I had broken my promises and failed Him because immediately I felt a peace and a complete feeling of gratitude over God reminding me of how He saw me!! Already clean?! Could it really be?
There it was plain as day in my Bible..."Already Clean", not "Gonna Be Clean once you get it together", not "were clean, before you messed it all up", not "Sorta clean if you overlook that huge, ugly stain"....nope, He said, "Already Clean!!!!"
The passage was read slowly again, and this time I heard, "Remain in me" more clearly than the rest of the passage. God was giving me a formula to guard my heart against the enemy's lies! He was providing me a source of peace and protection. I am already clean (good-bye condemning guilt and lies!)....and I need to remain in Him (Hello Peace!!) so that He can remind me daily of how He sees me!!
John 15:1-7

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

These grapes from our backyard are more than just yummy little capsules of sweet they are reminders of myself through God's eyes....clean, loveable, accepted, fruitful! Now when I smell their distinct fragrance wafting through my open windows, I'm reminded of how Already Clean I am and how I need to Remain in Him so that the enemy has no grounds upon which to launch operation "past failures" against my heart.
So, if you are struggling with guilt over past failures, disarm the enemy with the truth of God's word...then go pour yourself a glass of Welch's Grape juice and bask in your "Already Clean-ness"!!
How awesome is that???!!!


Cyn said...

What great insight! Thanks so much for posting this - it was very uplifting to me this morning!

Libby said...

You are awesome, Becca! I LOVE that you are strong in your faith! ;)

Joyce said...

The Holy Spirit has promised to lead us into all truth.I praise God !for showing you this wonderful gold nuget from His word.He / she that is of God hears His words,And you heard the Truth and the truth sets you FREE to bear much fruit. Love you Sweetheart :-)