I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me he can do nothing. John 15:5
For a while now, my heart and mind have been marinating in the phrase “Draw near to Him.” If you’ll notice, the phrase begins with a verb, which is an action or state of being. Oh, there are so many actions I associate with this phrase! (The teacher in me feels compelled to make a list)
Lean into Him,
Talk to Him,
Cry out to Him;
Sit quietly in the midst of His beautiful creation,
Revel in Him;
Open up the Bible,
Study His Word;
and Listen to Him.
These actions seem simple enough, don’t they? And the immeasurable peace and joy that comes from doing these actions is truly breath-taking and can be life-changing.
Recently though, God is helping me see that while all of these verbs are so incredibly important in my relationship with Him, and yes, without a doubt, they draw me closer to Him, there is a verb I have a tendency to forget (sometimes quite often). It is a verb that can stop me in my tracks and instantly place me at a crossroads in my walk with my Heavenly Father.
That verb is obey.
You know, this may sound silly, but I’ve never liked how that word sounds when it is spoken, and in all honesty, it’s not even part of my vernacular. Just looking at it and whispering it to myself makes me giggle because it sounds so strange. However, Luke 6:45 ends with “…For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” So, I have to wonder, if my mouth is not willing to speak it, then is it not flowing from my heart either? Hmm…is this just a trivial connection, or is there more to it?
Why do I draw near to my Heavenly Father in the first place? Of course, because He loves me and I love Him, and the hope and joy and peace He brings fulfills my life. But also, so I may seek wisdom and discernment; so He can “instruct and teach me in the way I should go, and counsel me with His loving eye.” (adapted from Psalm 32:8) I express over and over and over that I want to do His will. Well, DOING His will means obeying when He tells me what to do.
I am beginning to see that obeying God is an action that doesn’t just draw me near to Him, but it KEEPs me near Him; it is how I can remain in Him and Him in me, so I can bear much fruit! Yet, I am acutely aware that it’s not always easy, and at times great courage is needed. This is why I think my heart now needs to “marinate” in the concept of obeying–long enough for it to overflow not just into my words, but my actions, too.
There are so many examples of when we find ourselves at crossroads in our walk with you, whether it’s with our spouses, our children, our finances, our jobs…the list goes on and on; and it’s because we are either afraid or unwilling to obey. Thank you that we can draw near to you and climb up in your lap to learn your ways. Please help us remain in you by giving us the courage to follow through and obey.