Learning to Abide in the Vine

At various points in our years of hardship, it may help to write out exactly what we are going through so that we can pinpoint things about our situation.  Additionally, there are some things that we can do to help align our spirit with God’s and to help focus our mind on God’s Word.  What does “trusting God” look like when you’re going through some tough stuff?  We can make sure that we utter prayers and praises to God as often as we can.  Yes, it is good to try to have a designated time when we can have prayer time and Bible study, but it’s also good to try to just let our whole life be a prayer time.  That as we do mundane things related to our various life situations, we can be praying to God and we can be praising him (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV; Ephesians 5:18–19 KJV).  We can keep our whole heart focused on him, even if we may feel depressed or frustrated.

We can also try to find Scripture verses that relate to our situation so that we can meditate on them and make them a part of our everyday life.  We can simply start reading and endeavor to discover verses that meet us where we’re at, or we can consult a concordance or topical index, which will give us good places to start if we have a specific area of interest or need.  No matter our method, there’s always something in every book of the Bible that gives us hope and that points to a better tomorrow in God.  Every book has a gem or two (or twenty) that glimmer with hope and peace and strength.  God grows our faith when we spend time in his Word, in his presence, in prayer with him, and in communion with him (Psalm 119:105 KJV).  This is what Jesus was referring to when he told us to abide in him (John 15:4, 7 KJV).  We find rest for our souls when we let Jesus hold us (Matthew 11:28–30 KJV).  God is our vindicator—he sees everything that is going on and he will repay everyone for what they have done (Romans 12:19 NLT).

We can also keep a spiritual growth journal in which we write down what God is saying to us and what we are saying to God.  Often, our heart will be stirred by what we read in the Bible, so we can write down a little blurb about what that stirring is.  We can pray the verses over our life in writing.  We can jot down a word (or two) that has come to our mind that helps to focus our energy.  We can record revelations that God has given to us.  These spiritual growth journals are so valuable because they make the internal rumblings of our soul and spirit tangible in the form of the written word, and they also serve to document our growth in the Lord.  Flipping through them occasionally will strengthen our heart and will remind us that God is always with us and is always speaking to us.

When we take a minute to pour out our dreams and our visions before God of everything we want in this life, of everything we want to be, we can be sure that God hears us and that he is working.  We still may have a long way to go, but our spiritual growth journals can help us see how God’s hand has been a constant part of our life and how he’s taken our prayers and the cries of our heart and has made it all a reality for us in one way or another.  We can do nothing without abiding in Jesus Christ.  We cannot do anything in our own strength or hope that things will improve on their own.  We need God, and we need him to help us.  He is our Gardener whom we can trust to prune us properly (John 15:1 NLT), and Jesus is the Vine in which we are rooted—as we learn to more and more abide in the Vine, we will experience the spiritual growth that God desires for us (John 15:5 NLT), which often could not have happened without our present sufferings.  We can expect that our lives will someday be flourishing as we imagine them to be.  God will show us how we can be grateful now and how his blessings on our life can be seen in this moment even when we are yet going through something very difficult.

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