Richard Foster, in his book “Celebration of Discipline”, writes this:
“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”Foster, Richard, “Celebration of Discipline,” p. 1.
Two weeks ago we started a new sermon series entitled, “Going Deep!” (You can check it out at Maple City Chapel. Listen to the current sermons, join the FaceBook page, follow along in the devotional!) The emphasis is spiritual and emotional health through the practice of silence, solitude, scripture, listening. Essentially, practices that grow our faith deep so we can extend our reach wide.
At the same time, I am mentoring a young woman who desires to deepen her faith. We are visiting some of the same practices for the development and strengthening of her faith.
Reflecting on the messages I am hearing, it is God’s unconditional, unwavering love for humanity at the core of it all. I sit in silence to sharpen my listening skills. I read scripture to understand the power of God. I meditate on what I read so that the words of truth might dwell deep in my heart. One scripture from the message on Sunday particularly stood out to me. It reminds me that I am attached to the vine which is Jesus. As long as I stay attached, I grow and produce fruit. I am healthy because God prunes me and cuts away anything that hinders healthy growth. It is about me being attached to Jesus. And then Jesus says this:
9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.John 15:9-17
It might seem Jesus is saying that obedience to his commands proves we love God. I’ve tried that. I obeyed the letter of the law in what I understood scripture to say. It did not produce joy and certainly not overflowing joy. It was death to me.
Rather, Jesus says that love comes from the Father to Jesus to us. It is because we are deeply loved and attached to the vine that we can love others which is obeying Jesus commands. Our attachment to Jesus results in obedience of his commands and it keeps us in his love.
If life is tough right now and there isn’t much love flowing out of your vessel, I encourage you to check your attachments. Are you deeply attached to the vine or to something or someone else? Do you experience joy overflowing? Or is it even a little trickle? Check your attachments. It might mean you need to unplug and reattach to the Source of love and life!