Squirming out of His Embrace?
John 15:1-17 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. "
"Abide in my love". Wow! And "ouch!"
I have yet to learn how to simply feel and be, because I am so wired to see all emotions as the fuel to action:
Anger: figure out the problem and what it would take to fix it, and pray and communicate to that end.
Love: figure out how to show my emotions in real ways that will communicate that love to the object of my love.
Passion for something good: plan and act toward the goals the passion points toward.
Frustration: see the response to anger above.
Jealousy: confess it to God and seek to identify the needs in me it represents and to refocus my energy toward the best ways to meet those needs.
Covetousness: see above.
Sexual lust: if it is toward my husband, you can finish the sentence yourself . . . and if it isn't, confess it and ask God to heal it and redirect it.
Depression: see my post on July 4, 2007.
Grief and despair: cry out to God in complaint and let Him help me walk through it to acceptance.
Boredom: hmmm . . . . that's actually one I'm not sure I've ever experienced.
Competitiveness and ambition: refocus myself on our Triune God and His purposes through His people and in His time.
And I am old enough to have an action plan for all the other emotions you can think of as well . . .
But what if I am called to simply feel an emotion or set of emotions, and not respond with some action designed to "work through it" or dissipate it or just make it go away? Like feeling God's love for me? And living in that feeling?
I am reminded of Moses being hid from the full glory of God in the crevice of the mountain as God's glory passed by him . . .
How much of God can I stand?
How much of the abundant life can I stand?
More and more it seems to me that the addictions and sins of those who don't claim to be following Jesus are not really any worse than all the rules and actions of those of us who do claim to be Christ Followers. Am I -- are you -- doing my best to get God out of my face so that I can live life the way I feel most comfortable? A little quiet time, a little worship, a little service, a little discipleship . . . "now will you leave me alone a little and just let me enjoy life, please?" And all the actions I outlined above in response to the full range of emotions that life brings . . . they are designed to dumb it all down -- to let me live in control of my own experience, not at the mercy of God's attempt to love me.
So, how much of the abundant life can I stand? Can I stand to actually abide in His love continually? Or do I need to squirm out of it to recover from the intensity because I experience it as painful rather than as what life is supposed to be?
More and more, I am learning to surrender to that love. I am learning to live this moment in that full intensity, and be "out of control" without being too scared . . .
Maybe I'll even be able to stand an eternal life in a new heaven and new earth, in my resurrected body, with all of you who are there too, and eternally living in His presence . . .
And maybe hell is where I'd flee if I couldn't, and is a place of relief for those who never could stand to abide in His love.