Present: abide



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To edit means we prune. As we cut away the less valuable, less important, and not necessary we can truly start to bear fruit. Not all fruit is “good fruit” and just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should or must. Can you tell that this is said out of complete experience with the topic? If you know me at all you know that it is.  I also must mention that many of my thoughts in this post are inspired by the chapter “Good Fruit” in Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and I am ever so grateful to the Lord for placing this topic in front of me. Thankfully it was completely unavoidable. He is so beautiful and knows us so well. I pre-wrote for this series using a brainstorm list, but am writing it real time as my life experiences dictate exactly where each of the 31 40+ words on my “pre-write” list take me. I am amazed as I stand back and look at the tapestry those words weave and how each strand dips and dives creating a masterpiece. Corny analogy… ? Maybe, but it is exactly what I am seeing unfold. Like truly guys, as God is speaking this to me He is also speaking to those I love on similar topics. When I begin to see this happen I know I’m hearing from the Lord – He keeps bringing it to my attention and thankfully He uses people like my talented sister-in-law Emily (of Broken Bootstraps) to confirm. Read it, you’ll see for yourself  See I told you.

Scripture talks about remaining in God, abiding in Him, and it says we bear fruit.

John 15:4-5
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

We know this is talking about “good fruit” and what I think we sometimes miss is that this is an internal process – us and God. And that the fruit is also sometimes IN your life and heart – not just fruit that is visible to the world. He is not just describing what you will contribute to others and the rest of the world. He wants to do something inside of us, and it requires us to abide.

So often we can be “producing” fruit that others see as good or are viewed as rewarding and valuable, but the rest of our life is starved. What does production mean, what does “the good” we do in the world matter if our own heart and families are starving. I believe that if we are abiding in Him it will not be at the expense of our family or ourselves. That the fruit He will produce in and through us will be kingdom building and that WE are that kingdom.

I love what Niequist says about her own limitations. “I can do far less than I originally believed.” “I am reveling in the smallness of my capacity.” (“apart from me you can do nothing.”) Oh my! This is hard, but really good news. We truly do all have BIG and important callings, much bigger then ourselves or that we can accomplish on our own.  The reality is that we are human and our capacity is small, much smaller then we give ourselves credit for. The only way we can produce good fruit, the fruit He has designed into us, is if we are abiding in Him. It’s crazy to me what gets neglected when we are sidetracked by our own agenda. When we begin to “do it all for Him” and at the expense of ourselves and our families we are missing something.

There are repercussions when we do not abide in Him and we do not want the branches that are pruned to be ourselves, or our families. At least I do not. I am going to heed the advice, “I think of myself as part of the kingdom, a part of the church. I am not building the kingdom if… work is destroying this member (me) of that kingdom.” (Thank you Shauna, emphasis added by me.) When I stand and give an account for my life I want to be able to say, “what I gave myself to was pleasing to you Lord.”

I do believe that we can be doing good things for Him.

Psalm 5:3- wait expectantly

“Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.

Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”

This means that as we edit and prune we must stay closely connected to the vine and be getting our nutrition and rest in Him. If those areas are neglected or not fueled by the Lord then the wrong things become casualties and the fruit we produce is not “good fruit” at least not the kind I want to produce. Two summers ago I did a profound study of the fruit of the spirit by the then “Naptime Diaries, ” now Amen Paper. Boy did this speak to me, here’s the deal the “fruit of the spirit”  are the fruit John 15:5 is talking about. The fruit we will bear when we abide in Him is not “the company I built from the ground up,” “the incredible home I built for my family” or a dollar amount in a savings account. The fruit is not the number of people you “lead to Jesus” or list of fantastic small group discussions you I wrote. The fruit referred to here are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) So let’s grow these things, inside ourselves and with our family. I believe when we begin to cultivate our friendship with Jesus these fruits begin to emerge and this is the fruit I want. The rest is a bonus, fun, good, glorifies God and grows his kingdom but they are a biproduct of true abiding.

I will edit, prune, cut out and BE PRESENT. I will rest, abide, protect, and guard his kingdom at all cost.
I am that kingdom, my family is that kingdom, and thankfully I also believe that He will use me to be an impact, influence, and inspire beyond that because HE CAN. He will use my life, I just have to obey and focus on Him. I must be present.
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I couldn’t get past the beautiful illustration and perfect parallel, found in the pumpkin patch – hope you see the goodness that comes in the form of fruit when we are truly abiding.

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