Have you ever wondered what God sees in you? I have. I remind myself constantly that God pursues me just as He pursues all who have come before me. From the beginning of creation, God desired a creation to love, and that loves Him in return. He has accommodated and adapted His plan to make it possible for us to commune with His Holiness. Not only can we dwell with Him, but we can also actually be considered righteous and holy ourselves, in Him. It is a beautiful story, really that can’t be fully summed up in that one sentence. Read the whole Bible to see it; Old and New Testaments. You need to see it from the Old Testament perspective to really get the beauty of His ongoing interest in us. You can find some great reading plans here….. http://www.christianity.com/bible/year/
What does that have to do with this shriveled grape? Well, everything. There are so many days that I fail at exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit. He loves me and never forsakes me anyway. I forget to let the Spirit work through me when I am uncomfortable, or when I am experiencing normal human emotions in everyday life situations. He never forgets to forgive me and help me when I ask for it.
All I have to offer Him are empty hands. If I do offer Him my hands, He will fill them. He will fill me. His love will overflow into my life and to the others around me. This is all despite my weaknesses and because I choose to let His strength shine through my weaknesses. I fully realize I am just a vessel for His love.
One would think this realization that we are nothing without Him would lead to despair. The interesting thing, though, is that when we have been humbled enough to recognize our own lack of worth as a human being, we can begin to see God’s character and worth more clearly. When our thinking isn’t clouded by selfishness, we can see what He has to offer. That brings about in us the very opposite of despair; joy. We can see His sovereignty, His mercy, His grace. If we understand those characteristics, we can then get a glimpse of what we can be in Him. What would the created be without the Creator? Dust. Dust that doesn’t breathe, or think, or live.
Why do we fight the idea of humbling ourselves in this way? Simple. Distraction. That is what started in the garden with the fall of man into a life of willful sin. A different realization occurred in the garden as the enemy of God planted ideas of self-value in the minds of the first two humans. Instead of identifying themselves in God, the idea was introduced that God could be separated from them and they could be like “a god” themselves. It was not just innocence shattered, it was understanding of the intended human relationship to God demolished. We perceive a god as one who holds the power over us. The difference is our God has the power AND allows us to choose it, or not choose it, in our own lives. We do live with the consequences of the choice Adam and Eve made as sin entered and affected our physical world. But each person has choice in our daily walk to see God as our creator; or as a figure to compete with.
God didn’t created us to be gods. He created us to be one with Him and live in unity together. He also gave us free will. He wanted us to choose to live in fellowship with Him. He was looking for more than angels or robots, or whatever other entity you can imagine that must do His bidding. He wanted friends who desire to be with Him; interestingly, a desire He also planted in us.
Many, many years later, with His redemptive plan in place to maintain the choice of fellowship with Him, we still fight the distraction. Even in our spiritual walk, we try to find self-value. We can do the things that God wants us to do in our own power, right? Wrong. (See Romans 7, specificially verse 15 and 16…I can SO indentify!) That isn’t how we were created. We were created to fellowship with Him and be in union with Him. When we invite Him into our lives, we allow (or disallow, sometimes) the Spirit to dwell in and through us.
That is where these fruits come in. When we are allowing God, the Spirit, to dwell in us, we will bear this fruit. It is all still based on free will. He won’t make us do a thing we don’t choose to do.
So I remind myself of this today. When this shriveled grape realizes, I am nothing without Him, He can then make some grape juice……or wine, if that is your preference.
One final thought, specifically in relation to the fruit of patience. This vision of our own humility plays a role as we begin to understand and own up to our failings. A transition in our view of others happens so that it is easier to overlook what we see as failings in others. It puts us all in the same wine glass, so to speak, to be used by Him.
Here is a song I wrote last year that fits the theme of this post, called Empty Hands. https://youtu.be/gSC89lpnDdg