About a month ago, I came to the end of my six month prayer challenge. It was a great experience for me and I plan to post more about it in the future, especially because I’m not really ‘finished’. I’m still praying about the things and still chewing over the verse: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” [John 15:7,8]
This past week the ‘remain in Me’ part came to the fore again, and reminded me of one of my all-time favorite spiritual classics, Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray. Actually, Murray’s book fits in well with my recent posts on grace, because he puts a big emphasis on God working in us, rather than us earning salvation.
As I’ve been thinking about abiding and letting God flow through me, I’ve realized I tend to seek spiritual riches for myself. I spend time with God, and stuff myself with wisdom and love and grace and all sorts of wonderful things…but only for myself. And at the same time, I can slip into making spiritual growth a kind of personal achievement rather than as a way to produce a crop ‘to my father’s glory”. I become a bloated dead-end branch rather than a channel. So when I read this quote from Abide in Christ, it struck a chord in me:
“We all know what fruit is: the produce of the branch, by which men are refreshed and nourished. The fruit is not for the branch, but for those who come to carry it away. … A fruit-bearing tree lives not for itself, but wholly for those to whom its fruit brings refreshment and life.”
After I read that, I went to the little gym where I work out [it may sound glamorous but take a look at the tiny unheated, windowless garage]
I just happened to have my camera with me and for some reason, I decided to wander through the little orange grove on the property.
There I saw a vivid object lesson of what happens when fruit isn’t harvested:
Amazing, isn’t it? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen rotting oranges on a tree before. It’s not a pretty sight and it’s a real waste, when you think about how wonderful fresh squeezed orange juice is here.
What I take away from this is not an exhortation to work harder at producing fruit [that’s God’s job], but to share generously and freely, rather than hoarding the fruit for myself. I’m not sure exactly what that means , though one thing that comes to mind is this blog, which I started as a way of sharing my reflections. Another thing that comes to mind is not turning church into a holy huddle but reaching out to people I don’t know who may be visiting or lonely. And a third thing is the reminder that the whole point of producing fruit, like everything else in my life, is to glorify God and bring honor to Him. It’s not about me.
Abide in Christ, free ebook version.
His language is a little dated [it was written in 1895 after all] but the 31 chapters are short. A meaty one-month devotional.
A brief biography of Andrew Murray
post where I talk about: the six-month prayer challenge
post where I talk about:Fresh-squeezed orange juice
And in case you’re interested:
Why I’m going to put my links at the bottom of my posts from now on