31 Days: Remaining in the vine


John 15:1-4 

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 

May you discover the rest of remaining in the vine. Because the truth is that we can’t do anything on our own. And we don’t need to.

The Rhythm of Rest
This is Day 23 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).

Image credit: morguefile.com

31 Days: Putting down Roots

Photo Credit: John Pretty via Compfight cc

Today I returned to Alan Fadling’s book, An unhurried life: following Jesus’ rhythms of work and rest. In it he describes how early in his ministry Jesus visited the synagogue in Nazareth and announced his purpose by reading these verses from Isaiah 61:

Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…

And if Jesus had kept reading he would have come to these words in verse three:

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I was struck by this image and Fadling’s explanation that we are “these oaks of righteousness planted by the Lord [to] put his splendour on display, a display quite different from human excitement, enthusiasm and thrills. Splendor is quieter, stronger, less hurried and more deeply rooted.”

As I read this I was reminded of a gorgeous picture book called Tina the Tree by Andrew McDonough. You can read the whole story on the Lost Sheep website, but if I may summarise here, Tina the tree lives by a life-giving river in the hot dry climate of Australia. Tina loves to show hospitality to all the living creatures around her. But soon Tina is running herself ragged trying to help everyone.

What they really need is for Tina to stay by the river and sink her roots into the water. Strong and healthy, she can provide food, safety and shelter for the creatures who need her.

We are designed to display the Lord’s splendour, and we can’t do that by constantly running around in a hurry trying to get more done. As we are planted by the Lord we need time to be still, to send down roots and to grow in him.

The Rhythm of Rest
This is Day 5 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).

When having all the answers isn’t the answer

It was the end of a long work day and I was talking with a colleague. She was frustrated, stressed, and looking to me for a solution to her situation.

“I wish I had all the answers for you, but I don’t.”

I wished there was something else I could say, something else I could do for her.  I didn’t have any ‘fix-it’ words of wisdom.

I can’t change her situation. All I can do is walk alongside her on the journey.

Season change

I haven’t written much this year, and I apologise for my absence from the blogosphere. But I’ve come to realise that one of the things holding me back is wishing I had all the answers for you. I want to give you answers, I want to give you wisdom, to bless you. When you do me the honour of reading my words I want them to be worthy of your time and attention. I wish that I had the perfect advice on how to flourish. I don’t. The truth is that I’m a mess myself. I’m still on a long slow road to recovery from burn-out.

But I want to flourish. I desire that for myself, and for you. I’m guessing you want that too. Why else are you here?

I may not have all the answers, but I can be a fellow-traveller on the journey. Will you walk with me?

Maybe we’ll discover a few answers together along the way.

What does it mean to Flourish?

Today, I thought it might be good to revisit the inspiration for the name of this blog.

From John Ortberg’s book The Me I Want To Be:

God made you to flourish – to receive life from outside yourself, creating vitality within yourself and producing blessing beyond yourself. Flourishing is God’s gift and plan, and when you flourish you are in harmony with God, other people, creation, and yourself. Flourishing is not measured by outward signs such as income, possessions, or attractiveness. It means becoming the person he had in mind in creating you.