Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thankful Thursday

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

Colossians 2:6-7

I have to admit I've had a hard go of it this past month. Moving to a new country (heck, a new continent) and leaving behind everything I knew has been difficult to say the least.

But God, in His grace, has given me some insight and, hopefully, a little wisdom. I understand now part of His reasoning for bringing me here to Doha. Or at least, a way that He is using it for my good, as He promises in Romans 8.

I've entered a season of pruning. While this is painful, it's often necessary for believers to have unnecessary growth cut away. And in our fast-paced American society, there is plenty of unnecessary growth to go around.

The Gospels are replete with instances of Jesus using parables and analogies that use gardening to teach. One real-life example for me is the grapevine my father-in-law planted at our first home.

It started off as just a stick. It looked dead to me. He had brought it from his home in Jordan (shh - don't tell customs!). When he told me he was going to plant this dead stick in my yard, I politely smiled and inwardly rolled my eyes.

But wouldn't you know it, that stick soon sprouted leaves and tendrils and, in time, grew into a beautiful vine. Much in the same way that we, who are dead in our transgressions, are miraculously transformed into living spiritual beings, alive in Christ. Over time, we grow and spread and provide shade and respite to those around us.

But what we didn't know was that to get fruit, the vine must be pruned. All those beautiful vine and branches, while looking really, really good, can actually hinder the production of fruit. We never did get any grapes from the vine, just a lot of prettiness.

I've come to believe that that is the place I was in. Lots of stuff that looked good on paper - Bible study leader, homeschool group leadership committee, children's ministry worker, youth worker, church bookstore manager, women's ministry committee, VBS leader. All of it really good and worthy.

And none of it really having an impact on my heart. None of it really producing much fruit.

So God, in His wisdom, took all that out of my life. He has stripped me to the bare bones of just being a wife and mother.

So today I'm grateful that God is the true vinedresser. That He knows which branches to trim and which to leave. (I'm happy to report that the children did NOT get into the private school, so we will continue to homeschool them.) I'm grateful that He loves me enough to take me out of my comfort zone and force me to grow and bear fruit, even when I was quite happy to stay at the shallow, superficial level I was at.

I'm grateful that I know enough to trust Him. I'm grateful that He hasn't brought me to the point of utter despair. I'm grateful that He has given me joy in this process and I don't even mind it now that I understand it.

I'm grateful that God is good.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1-2

Please be sure to visit Iris at Sting My Heart to see more Thankful Thursday posts. It's so encouraging to read story after story of what God is doing in people's lives.


Karen said...

I have to tell you that I just love your heart! This is a great insight and very humbling for one who is surrounded by so many "leaves." I have thought a lot about complaining vs. being grateful lately. (I'm still in the "thinking" stage. Perhaps one day I'll move to the "doing" stage.) Anyhow, I think being grateful kind of goes along with what you are saying.

Have a blessed day, friend. Your words hit the spot!

Karen said...

And if that whole thing didn't make any sense, blame it on the meds. It sounded fine in my head, but the vertigo makes everything seem different. :)

Nancie said...

Lori, thanks for sharing your thankful heart with us. It is encouraging to read of how God has helped you. May you continue to grow in Him and be a blessing to many. Blessed Thankful Thursday!

Nancy M. said...

It's wonderful that you can see things so clearly. I am glad that you are so positive and not being down about the old life you left!

You have a wonderful new start in life and He will guide you where you need to be.

Melanie said...

This is such a beautiful post of how God works in our lives when we allow Him. It is also something that I really needed to hear today. I think too often I get caught up in doing the "right things" and don't focus on my heart as I should. I loved the analogy with the grapevine... gave me a perfect picture.

Happy Thankful Thursday!

Darlene said...

Fabulous post! Thanks for sharing your heart!

Happy TT!

genny said...

Great list and thanks for sharing it to us. TC and happy TT!

sharon said...

I love the parable of the stick. I feel like that stick many times.... Thanks for the encouragement

Denise said...

You have such a gentle spirit, I am praying for you.

Tracy said...

This post grabbed me and really spoke volumes...THANK YOU for sharing this! What a beautiful (and powerful) illustration!

Looking forward to stopping by again soon! Blessings to you!


Cheryl said...

You have such a greatful heart. Wonderful post. Hope you are having a Happy TT!!

Peggy said...

Lori...a simply aMazing life at home
in a new country...with such deep rooted insights in the value of pruning...OUCH...very inspiring
to read your grateful heart and
hope for growth from a vine bearing fruit...I'm so glad that you find JOY in the process and along the way...
because I don't ever remember being
thankful while I was pruned...May God continue to richly bless your fruit and draw you into that fresh anointing while helping make adjustments to your new home...Be blessed,


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