Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't Run from Your Friend!

We've all heard the old adage, "Whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." It's true. Sanctification is a painful process. It may nearly kill us in the process, but we do come back stronger, holier, and a more beautiful Bride for Christ.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." -John 15:1-2

If you do any gardening, you may understand a little bit about pruning and how it's like sanctification. I didn't grow up gardening, but I've gotten into flower gardening the last few years and really enjoy it. Last summer, just after my fourth baby, my verbena really needed some pruning. It had big, lush, purple heads of flowers that had spread all over my flower bed, but at this point, in the heat of the south Georgia summer, it had stopped producing those flowers. I guess in the daze of having a newborn, but still producing some good endorphins, I went to work on two big verbena plants with some pruners, but no gloves. Not my brightest moment! It wasn't until after I was done wacking at them that I felt the extreme pain of having completely torn up my hands, now covered in open blisters! In a few days, my pain was worth it however, as my verbena came back in all its radiant glory once again, actually even better than before. I thought then how very much it hurts God to have to discipline us, but it grows us more and more into His image.

I fear we have a tendancy in our current American culture to run from sanctification. We want the easy way out so often. So many young people (I sound old!) start college, and then find it so much harder than they expected and quit, or they take five or six years to finish what should take four. Couples get married and when the going gets tough, it requires more of themselves than they're willing to give, or marriage just isn't what they envisioned, they quit that too. Parenting's full of rough stuff too. It involves a lot more sacrifice and change in lifestyle than most people think it will, so they seek means of escape there too. It comes in many forms. Sometimes, moms will toss their kids into someone else's hands too often. Maybe for little things like errands. It is easier oftentimes to let a grandparent or friend watch a child or children when you've got a lot of running around to do, but we need to examine if we're doing it too much. Other times, the escape from sanctification that comes through parenting involves dropping out of church activities. Y'all, it doesn't matter if nap time is during church time, God will reward your faithfulness whether it's now with a longer Sunday afternoon nap, or in years to come as your children are accustomed to that faithfulness and go willingly to church, or in Heaven.

We are often a spineless society! Dig in your heels and work! College students, do your work. Get that piece of paper and then get a job with it, and then, don't expect that you need to start by earning a six figure salary. As a Christian, no job is beneath you! Married woman, sometimes the ways that you need to bless your husband have less to do with blessing him and more to do with your sanctification. Death to your desires will mold you more into Christ's image! Parents, pull up your sleeves, determine you're going to do what's best for your children and maybe it will do you good too. Maybe taking them on that trip to the grocery store or Lowe's or wherever you're going will give you more opportunities to train them in righteousness, others may see what well behaved children you have, and you can tell them that Proverbs 20:11 tells us, "Even a child is known by his deeds." All of the car strapping and unstrapping, the rest you don't get because the baby fell asleep in the car and won't get his nap at home, all of that will be worth it because it will produce patience in you, and you will come to rely on God's endless supply of energy when you find you don't have any yourself.

Just as my husband often has our church repeat after him, "conviction is my friend," say with me, "The pain of sanctification is my friend!"

1 comment:

Stephanie E. said...

AMEN! Thanks for that reminder. I really needed that today, sister.