He calls himself the true vine, calls us the branches. He tells us to hang on and, when we do, we will thrive. He also says He will prune away any part that doesn't bear fruit, isn't productive. He does away with the junk because this is a promise He made. The pruning is lifelong and He does it in love: the way a father grows up a child, the way a gardener pulls off the dead leaves. Sucking life away from fruit with potential.
That fifth year, I was living with these great girls who were boisterous and lovely. I was the oldest in our house by two years and I had been adopted yet again. I was going to be a nurse and the boy I loved dove right into the ministry life in the mid-west. He was eighteen hours away and all-in. My old friends had since graduated and moved on. I was there: raised to walk in a "newness of life" and I felt all alone.
This time, I had a new conflict of interest: a commitment to this Jesus and a secret life He wanted to be a part of.
Because when we say "yes" He likes to sink in deep, settling in between the joints and the marrow. Because He promises to finish what He began, to make us who He intended us to be. He does this by moving in, assessing from the inside out. And then He gets to work.
This can be painful and messy.
I knew this was going to be a battle like no other and He was getting a little too personal. I think He might have backed off, only He was answering a prayer I had prayed way back when.
Only this time, I realized I was running from the only One who might have a better solution, might actually heal me up ... for good. With a whisper from my knees, I handed over this part of me too.
The next day, help came to my classroom. She literally walked through the door. This genteel, compassionate woman looked into my hollow eyes and called me a "caged bird." Said she thought I had a lot of living to do ... if I would start living for real. Start getting honest.
This was about a God who is, and has always been, committed. This was about being changed in a profound way, by the One who made me, from the inside out.