Friday, February 3, 2017

The vine and the branches - part 2

(...continued from part 1 here - if you are just now joining, click on the link and read the preceding post.) 

Our prayer for 2017 is for health for our entire family - body, soul and mind. We are working toward healing in some areas where there has been much hurt. This is involving a myriad of interventions - lots of conversations, medication trials and counseling. And prayer. Loads and loads of prayer from the amazing people that have been walking alongside us. 

In thinking about healing, this process of becoming healthy, I couldn't help but note that healing unarguably first requires seeing. And this word "seeing," at first blush, sounds so very passive. For example, we see when our eyes scan a room upon entering, taking in the sights. We see when we glance up from our work to determine what the movement was that we caught out of the corner of our eye. We stare at our phone screens in front of us and we see. 

But how often do we really, truly see? 

As my pastor recently described it, we truly see when we become aware of the potential in someone or something and then we notice the gap between where that person or thing could be and where they actually are. It is when we notice this discrepancy that we really, truly see. When we see in this way, it is natural that we mourn. It hurts to stand witness to what could be yet is not. In our fallen world, real seeing is cause for pain. Every earthly thing will always fall short. And so we mourn. 

But Matthew 5:4 says "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

I never really understood why those who mourned could possibly be called blessed. It sounded like a downright depressing place to be but maybe that was because I didn't have the full picture. First we see. And that seeing leads to mourning. And then mourning leads to comfort. And the cycle continues. 

When I broke down earlier this week, it was the result of one of these moments where I was able to truly see. I had caught a glimpse of what could be for us and yet the reality of my circumstances clearly illustrated how far we still had to go. And so I mourned. I saw the treacherous nature of the path before me and I didn't want to walk it. Here I thought we'd scaled the major peak, only to get to the top and discover it was merely the first hill in the vast Alps around me. I wanted to plop down right there and call it quits. I was done, so totally tapped out. With each step of forward progress it seemed we were making, there were another five taking us backwards. I was discouraged beyond words. 

I was trying to get ready for the day and, as if on autopilot, my hands fumbled mindlessly after that gold branch necklace.  

"I can't do this," I cried, pouring my heart out to God as I gripped the jewelry and let the tears flow. 

I looked down to see the necklace in my palm. I hadn't been thinking clearly. It was as if my subconscious had landed it there. Why was I choosing to wear this piece, this piece that had been gifted to me as a representation of each member of our family? I peered closely at the gold representation of a tree branch in my hand, thick and strong at it's base, with 5 little offshoots splaying outward from the source. The words of John 15:5 began running through my mind:

"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."

"Apart from me, you can do nothing." The words ran through my mind again. I was right. I couldn't carry the load of all I was facing on my own. No one could. And so "Where is God in this?" is the question we find ourselves asking. Often we don't get to know all the details. But scripture tells us that He is there, even when we feel raw and alone. Even in these moments of seeing and mourning, I was reminded that he is our source, our very lifeblood. All of our existence is fully dependent on him. 

I love this new and deepened meaning that my necklace took on for this week. I know now that it was no accident that it ended up in my hand and later around my neck. From here on forward, the branch will not just represent each member of my precious family, but it will also serve as a reminder to me of where our strength comes from. Christ is the source for me, my husband and my kids. The health and well-being of my family is not dependent on me.

I see and because I see, I mourn. The hurt remains but my load has been lightened. I know I am being held fast in Christ and, in that, there is great comfort. So what's in all this for you, dear reader? My prayer is that somewhere in this mess of words, your soul would be touched. That you would be moved to have eyes that truly see. That you would mourn each time you recognize the gap between what could be but isn't. And then that you would find comfort, deeply rooted in Him, the vine and our sustenance. In seeing this way, I pray that you would draw closer to the very heart of God, knowing that he longs for what could be exponentially more so than we could ever imagine. It is in these moments of complete brokenness that we catch glimpses of the depth of his never-ending love for us.

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posted by kelsie