A while back, I did an exercise with some kids at church to practice listening for God’s voice. I wrote about it here. You see, I am an average person. I struggle with the distractions in my daily life that make me think I’m not good enough, strong enough or smart enough to live an extraordinary life for Jesus. I get bogged down by exhaustion in parenting, guilt that my 4 year old doesn’t know his alphabet, or that I haven’t been checking in on my 80 something year old neighbor. There are days that if feels like life is all about me and my family’s survival when I know I want to be about others, and more than that- I want my care of others to come from an overflow or abundance of my life- that I am not just obedient to a command, but faithful to a lifestyle of generosity. So my prayer is often, God I need to hear from you! I think I’m on the right track, but I’m wavering a bit here! or it’s a bit more dramatic than that and sounds more like, God- where the heck are you? I can’t really see you in this fog! I think I hear your voice…but it’s a little far off. Remind me that you are near!
Recently I received two very important words, that came not from unexpected places, but at a surprising time. They were kairos moments. Kairos is a greek word for time. More specifically it means the “right or opportune moment for God’s purpose”. Moments that God made his presence very clear to me, in a space and time that I was struggling for perspective.
God takes us though seasons of pruning. In our lives, there are seasons of pruning or refining. It is God’s work of care and compassion on us. The big branches that need to come off, are maybe not that big of a deal, they are more obvious and simple to take care of. It’s the small and detailed pruning that can be more time consuming and painful. I know this because I have 13 rose bushes that have been the bain of my existence since I inherited them 8 years ago. I am a terrible pruner (leave the spiritual pruning to God, Katey!) This pruning produces fruit that is way better though, so it’s worth it.
Another harvest season image from another friend: You are an orange tree. You can try and try and try to produce coconuts and apples and bananas, but you are still an orange tree. So stop striving. Relax. Just be an orange tree. That’s what you are good at. You can produce amazing oranges! And the great thing about being the orange tree is it doesn’t really have to do anything! It just has to BE what God created it to be. To take in the water, sun, and air around it.
In both of these words, I heard a simple message from God: Stop striving. Just abide. Stop trying so hard to do so much (even if it’s for My kingdom). Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Hang out with me. Be with me. Sit at my feet.
If that wasn’t enough, I was at a worship night at church and underneath the strong beat of each song I could hear this proclamation, and it would literally not go away no matter how loud I sang. I will not strive, I will abide. I will not strive, I will abide. Okay God. I get it.
But He wasn’t finished with this kairos moment. A day later, I got a message from one of my storytellers for Sunday School. They weren’t going to be there on Sunday, so I opened up the lesson. The story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10). Huh. God desires our devotion. “…few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I spoke to gradeschoolers about the Love of God, the gift of His Son Jesus and our relationship with God being about devotion to Jesus. Being with Jesus, not just for or about Jesus.
I will not strive. I will abide.
I have known and read this passage of scripture, countless times. But today it carries fresh perspective. Hope for my messy life to gloriously reflect God’s love and grace and mercy as a light in my friendships, to my family, neighborhood and in my workplace. Even in the midst of a life filled with work and chores and people to love and babies to care for, there is this promise that if I just BE who God created me to be. If I can REST in God’s presence. If I can SIT at the feet of Jesus…I will have done enough today. And tomorrow, I have to get up and have the same outlook as I carry on another day.
The Vine and the Branches John 15: 1-17
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in me, as I also 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.
5 “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. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.