“I can’t believe he did it anyway” I thought, “he asked my opinion, I told him – NO. I didn’t think we should get involved in a new ministry. And he did it anyway.” It happened again. That’s right, someone I love hurt me deeply by asking my advice and then doing the opposite of what I thought was best. I was livid. My passive-aggressive self-preserving anger turned into an erupting volcano of bitterness because I was unwilling to forgive. I was wronged; felt double-crossed and believed my loved one did not deserve to be forgiven. I held onto my rage and went through the motions of walking with Christ. But my resentment grew; I did my own thing and asked God to bless my feeble efforts to serve Him. At that time, I didn’t know how to respond to God’s efforts to prune me.
Instead, I chose to ‘lick my wounds’ harboring resentment and rehearsing the pain, even nursed my hurts and cursed my offender. My choice to hang on to bitterness, anger and resentment was like running with scissors. I was a ticking, emotionally-charged time bomb, ready to explode or share my poison with any unsuspecting victim. In hindsight, it would have been healthier to place my burdens on the shoulders of Jesus. Instead, I stuffed my pain, which imploded and pierced me to the core. This was not how God wanted me to respond to His loving hand of correction.
“To abide in Christ is to renounce any independent life of our own,” says RA Torrey. “If we remain in Him and He in us, we function fully dependent on His power. This is the only way to live a victorious Christian life.” In the 15thchapter of John, Jesus refers to Himself as the Vine and we are the branches. As we remain in Jesus, we stay in fellowship with Him, by our choice to depend on His power. John 15:5says, “If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.” If we commit our lives to Him and ask Him to dwell in us, we must accept the pruning process He brings – whether it be in forgiving the undeserving, surrendering the strong will, trusting His hand to lead us forward into unknown territory.
Logos Bible software explains: To “abide” is to live, continue, or remain; so, to abide in Christ is to live in Him or remain in Him. When a person is saved, he or she is described as being “in Christ” held secure in a permanent relationship. Therefore, abiding in Christ is not a special level of Christian experience, available only to a few; but it is the position of all believers.
To abide in Christ requires complete and absolute commitment along with self-denial. If I had chosen to abide in Christ, forgive the one who hurt me and asked God to take care of the revenge I wanted to dish out, things would have turned out differently. What would have happened if I had forgiven my offender and surrendered my anger? I should have invited Jesus into my situation, let go of my hurt and hate and yielded to God’s tender love. I have learned from my mistake. I have a hunch I will have more opportunities to trust God in the future. Ok, I’ve learned my lessons the hard way, I will not run from God’s pruning anymore – bring it on, Lord.
May I pray for you today? Dear Heavenly Father, Help us stay connected, in tune, ready to let your gentle hand prune us as soon as we need it. Thank you for your willingness to use anything that comes our way for your glory – if we are willing to trust your heart in the middle of the pain in the pruning. In Jesus’ Name, Amen