As long as we refuse to accept that our pride is the source of our unrest, we will continue to wither on the vine. –Hannah Anderson, Humble Roots
In the book of Lamentations it says, “He hath set me in dark places…”
We don’t like to think about God doing that to us do we?
In her book, Humble Roots, Hannah Anderson writes,
In John 15, hours before Jesus surrenders Himself to the cross, He tells His disciples that in order to bear fruit, they must “abide in him.”
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser… Abide in me, and I in you. As a 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.
Here is the offense: “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
A cross of my own
As I began my own walk through dark circumstances (compliments of a devastating illness and all the messy complications that came with it) I remember thinking: “I want my life back!”
(The one I thought I was supposed to have.)
- I wanted my pain to go away.
- I wanted the “lights” in my life back on.
- I didn’t want to walk through anything, I just wanted God to fix it, whatever “it” happened to be at the moment.
In short, I didn’t want to “walk through,” I wanted to be “delivered from.”
When God didn’t? I felt rejected, betrayed, and abandoned.
Real “deep-down” fixes
To my broken way of looking at things, God was not playing by His own rules!
I reasoned that as a returned prodigal, that I had come back to God with the commitment to give Him 100%, I had played by all the “rules,” done everything the “right” way. Why were all these terrible things happening?
(In my despair, I prayed like Elijah.)
Remember that famous prayer under the juniper bush where Elijah wanted to quit; crawl under a bush, and just be done with it all? Well, I wanted to quit too; crawl under my dark circumstances, and be done.
I was solely focused on my impossible needs.
God, on the other hand, wasn’t interested in a quick-fix… He wanted a deep-down fix. God saw that my real impossible needs were internal–a heart in desperate need of transformation. He knew that all my future victories depended on it!
Humility and transformational solutions
How often we look at our uncomfortable externals, praying for God to fix them. But we need to remember, the Holy Spirit is primarily interested in changing us into the likeness of Jesus. That has always been His goal–not our comfort.
Again in her book, Hannah Anderson writes,
The problem is our unwillingness to accept the solution. The problem is our obsession with ourselves. With our need to fix things, our need to make ourselves better, our need to be approved by God and others, our need to “count for something.”
But this is also why Jesus calls us to come to Him. By coming to Jesus, we remember who we are and who we are not. By coming to Him, we come face to face with God and with ourselves...
Humility, then, is not simply a disposition or set of phrases. Humility is accurately understanding ourselves and our place in the world. Humility is knowing where we came from and who our people are. Humility is understanding that without God we are nothing. Without His care, without His provision, without His love, we would still be dust.
Our Lonesome Valley
There’s an old Woody Guthrie song I love:
My “Lonesome Valley”
This is exactly how I felt in my crisis–all alone.
- I wanted someone to come and make my load lighter.
- I wanted someone who would understand and listen, while I tried to process my pain.
But, sometimes people don’t come. And sometimes, it’s not people that we need.
I believed I was in my crisis all alone–but I wasn’t.
Grace and grafted-branch abiding
Our deepest need in our brokenness is understanding our true identity in Christ. We are HIS branch. Our correct posture as His branch is to have a humble dependence on our Vine.
Hannah Anderson continues,
Before we can be grafted onto Him, we must be stripped of our decomposing roots, our self-sufficiency and ego. We must give up the pretense that we can root ourselves. We must reject the pride that believes in humility as a concept but refuses to actually be humbled before God. The trouble, of course, is that it is our very pride that keeps us from being healed of our pride. So before we can even begin to answer His call to come to Him, Jesus comes to us. Because we could never sufficiently humble ourselves, Jesus humbles Himself. And by doing so, He became both the model and the means of our own humility. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus shows us our true identity as people dependent on God for life. And through His life, death, and resurrection, He imparts this humble life to us once again…
We too must be grafted. If we are to find rest from our stress, if we are to have any hope of escaping our pride, we must be grafted onto the one who is humility Himself. We can no longer simply be content to attempt to imitate Him; we must become part of Him in order to reflect Him.
Jesus whispers in hopeless circumstances
Though no human comforters came to help me, God came, straight into my hopeless circumstances speaking to me about how much He loves me; about all the wonderful plans He still had for me. Right there, in the middle of my mess, I made a wonderful discovery.
Sitting among my ashes.
After “Job’s friends” had all had their say, and gone their way… God will speak to ordinary me,
And when He speaks His words are full of wonderful whispers of love, healing, hope, and comfort!
Instead, You come, and gently pick us up, wash and bandage our wounds, and when You speak? They are the words of a loving compassionate Father.
Oh, what wondrous love it is, our Savior’s abiding love for His branches.
May we always remember.
I like how you mention the ‘life you were supposed to have’. I think we all grow up with dreams of how our lives will be. Learning to surrender to the one God has planned is a big part of our sanctification. Meshing our God-given dreams with our ALSO God-given realities can be a delicate and difficult emotional journey. Thank you for sharing!
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Lovely comment! I found that the more I read my bible and learned about the early church the more I could look at my own life and realize the persecution, trouble, and hardship are normal circumstances for followers of Jesus. Therefore, we learn like Paul to be content in the circumstances ordained by God–though we may never totally “understand” why–we learn to trust Him and His love for us.