Monday, November 4, 2013

Inside Out

I believe that all of life is ultimately a picture of spiritual realities.  The family unit, in its perfection, is the deepest illustration of God in His relationship with us. 

And so, I want to speak again of children . . . spiritual children . . . fruit.

There have been stages in my life where I did not walk in close fellowship with God.  I faked it.  And though I continued in ministry as usual, making a show of  'doing good works'  to the people around me, God and I both knew that it was illegitimate. 

Since then, God has revived my heart.  I cannot get enough of the Word and often find my soul bursting with its fullness.  I desire Him more than anything on earth. I won't deny that I still struggle with disappointment or times of silence from God.  But through that breathing of the relationship, I no longer desire the 'fruit' so much as my Beloved.

Jesus says that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit.  (John 15:5)  Though not always visible to us, it is a given.  While we are to remain intentional about sharing our faith, we do not have to strive so hard, because it is the Holy Spirit who draws people to Christ.  For this reason, it cannot be forced. 

I'm reminded of intimacy within a marriage.  Only as the husband and wife draw near to each other are children conceived, and even then they are given almost while they sleep.  (Psalm 127)  The exact moment of conception is known only to God.  Likewise, the moment the Holy Spirit births a new believer . . . a mystery.

Yet, what of those times when we draw near but still come up barren?  This tests our faith to the limit, just as infertility can derail and devastate a couple to exasperation. 

However, infertility often leads to other avenues of gaining children.  So spiritually, the empty, the ache of longing, can be the calling to a different place . . . the fruit of faith.  Can I trust God when it seems like He is going against His promise or His character?  When it seems like He is not loving?  When He has not granted my heart's desire?  One peek at the lives of Abraham and Sarah, who were given a child in their old age, show us that God remains faithful against all odds. 

I spent the last year in one area of ministry that seemed like a total bomb. . . a failure.  But looking back, I believe God was testing my faith.  Would I be obedient even without seeing fruit?  Is love for my Savior enough?

God is not a liar.  What appeared barren actually produced something unseen which I believe may result in tremendous fruit in the future.  But there needs to be more ripening.  The fruit is too green to be picked.  And maybe it is only still a bud, a seed buried at rest.  But one thing I do know.  Though the experience left me reeling in disillusionment, I am closer to my Beloved because of it.  And this I love, absolutely love. 

Devotion to God needs to come from the inside out.  Ironically, when the focus is on gaining numbers for ourselves, there is no fruit: only wood, hay, and stubble, which will be burned up into nothingness.

Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord, my soul cries out . . . to You.
(by Hillsong United)  

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