In some ways it is hard to believe this is page 200 already in this page-and-photo-a-day adventure I am on this year. In other ways, like most habits, it seems like such a natural part of what I do that it is surprising that it is only page 200.
Page 200 had many elements of a routine Monday as life begins a return to normal following a turbulent week. I began the day in the office catching up on messages and correspondence that had accumulated from the end of last week. A good part of my morning, both in time and content, was spent with God putting together the prayer guide for next week. We finally settled on a topic of respect with each day’s prayer focus being about some aspect of respect that ought to be present in our life because of our respect for God. Once the prayer guide was written, I did some minor editing to my latest 31-day devotional journal and ordered the 300+ copies that I expect to give out at the National Student Conference later this month. After those were ordered, I got out the missions folder and spent the rest of the workday taking care of the financial record-keeping and writing checks to the missions that the church helps to support. Throughout the entire process I am praying for the missionaries and the work that God is doing through them. When I had all the missions records and financial books caught up to date, it was time to call it a day and head out for a late afternoon lunch after a stop by the post office to drop off the mail to the missions.
Once home it was time to relax and unwind a bit, but first a walk around the home property with my camera shooting a few photos of things that catch my eye. While I began with the flower beds, it wasn’t long before I made my way to the garden and found a few pictures just waiting to be taken. 🙂 One of those photos made today’s page as it reminded me of the teaching of Jesus that He is the vine and we are the branches, apart from Him we can do nothing. Sometimes we become so enamored with our own plans that we find the vine somewhat confining. So we disconnect ourselves from the vine and set off on our own to accomplish all the greatness and glory that our plans entail. Sometimes we have enough within ourselves to make something out of our effort, but it never amounts to what it could have been if we had only stayed connected to the vine. It is often our pride that makes us unwilling to admit that somewhere along the way we disconnected from the vine and are trying to accomplish our own plans in our own power. When that tomato remains connected to the vine until it reaches full maturity, there is nothing quite like it in terms of flavor and substance. Yes, you can remove it from the vine and force it to “ripen”, but no one who knows the real thing would choose this over a truly vine-ripened tomato. Too often we seek God for direction or purpose and then once we’ve begun to grow into what He desires, we decide we can finish the things that need done on our own and eventually are left wondering why our life seems to lack the vibrancy that we expected.
After my garden walk, it was time for a nap as I allow the refreshing of God’s Spirit to begin to renew my strength that had been depleted through the events of the past week. Even the resting is a connection, or re-connection, to the vine as I draw strength, energy, and life-giving nutrients from the only source which enables me to do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I pray that you and I would stay connected to the vine of Christ in everything we do. I pray that we would honestly evaluate our pursuits in life in order to bring any that we are attempting to do on our own back into a connection to the vine of Christ. I pray that our continual connection to the vine would give the world a full taste of the sweetness of Christ.