Throughout the fall and into this winter, I have been slowly reading, digesting and praying the Book of John, specifically the words of Jesus in the Book of John, the “red-letter” words. I have loved it, loved hearing what Jesus had to say about himself and what he desired from those who followed him. And I’ve enjoyed turning those words back into prayers.
It’s been slow, partly because of my lack of discipline to get at it every day and partly because I’m purposely taking it slow, sometimes taking in only one sentence or verse in a day. Because of the speed I’m going, or lack of speed, I hit Chapter 15 just as the New Year was approaching. And it seems God is using that chapter to set my resolutions for 2013.
Last year my resolutions were all about working out, running and weight. I had a vague sense of some spiritual resolutions, like “doing better with my devotions, etc”, but never spoke or wrote them and, therefore, never reached them. This year, from John 15, I have some clear resolutions. I want to Abide, to Love, and to Ask. And to Glorify.
This section, from verse 5 to verse 17, is so jam-packed with goodness that I hate to leave anything out (You’ll have to stop and read it yourself to get it all.), but in the interest of space I will. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved my, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love. . . I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. . .You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last — and so that whatever you ask for in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
There is so much in these few verses! It’s simple, no complicated theological concepts, but so very much. Jesus invites me, indeed he has chosen me, to abide in him and to love people, sacrificially as he loved me, laying down my plans and my desires and my very life, and he wants me to live from the knowledge and rest of being a chosen friend of his, chosen and appointed to bear eternal fruit. And he wants to give me what I need and ask of him.
It seems that Jesus is inviting me to ask for whatever I wish (when I am remaining in relationship with him and feeding on his Word) because in answering my prayers the Father’s name will be exalted. And exalting the Father is Jesus’ passionate desire. When I abide in (remain in, plant myself into) Jesus and feed on his Word and from that position make requests of the Father, I will bear fruit for him and the Father’s name will be esteemed. Talk about win-win! I will grow in freedom, blessing and joy, the Kingdom will advance, and the Father will be glorified.
Oh, I want to be fruitful. I want to bear eternal fruit, fruit that lasts. But I spend so much time on earthly, temporal fruit. I want to abide. But I am so easily distracted. I want to love. But I get so consumed with myself.
So, in 2013 I still want to train for and run two half-marathons, I still want to run or workout at least 183 of the 365 days, and I still want to lose five pounds. But, more than all of that, I want to:
- ABIDE: read, relate, praise, talk, study, and worship
- LOVE: serve, lay down my life, obey
- ASK: request, intercede
- and GLORIFY with the fruitfulness that will result!
Holy Spirit, who lives within me and who has made my spirit new, lead me in this new year to abide and to love. Call to me; urge me on. Empower and inspire me and draw me to that lasting fruit of abiding and loving and asking. And thank you for all that will follow — we’ll both be filled with joy as we see the Father glorified!