As we get older things change… have you noticed?
- We still wear cool shades… only they’re prescription.
- I still occasionally browse in the record department… but my music is easy listening.
- You may still play softball… for just a few innings then you’re disabled for two weeks.
- We can still party with the best of them… as long as we’re home by 10:00 PM.
As I get older, I seem to have lost control over life’s sudden changes. There was a period years ago, when my father died, my daughter moved back home to seek a fresh start, which is good news but requires a lot of adjustments. My son graduated from college and began a new career, which is great news but there are emotional adjustments. Whew… that’s a lot of change.
When I was young… I felt totally in control of everything. I wanted to change the world and make it a better place. I imagined a career path that would lead to the top. I wanted a perfect marriage to match my perfect children. God would be so proud. What happened? Actually, we seldom control what happens around us. Most of us will not dramatically change the world. Our career path is far from perfect. Marriages falter and flounder. Children struggle and even fail. As we get older we even lose the ability to control our bodies as we become ever more dependent on those who care for us.
What a bummer! Why are you so depressing, Larry? Don’t give up on me yet. There is hope but first we must understand how suddenly things can change and how easily our lives can spin out of control.
Even the Bible changes… (What?) No, not the words themselves but how it affects our lives. For example: When I first committed myself to becoming a serious Christian, Zig Ziglar a famous motivational speaker and author, signed the book he wrote that changed my life “Confessions of a Happy Christian” and then added John 15:1-7. I couldn’t wait to look it up in the Bible. Here is a portion of the Scripture:
Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more… Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me… Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.”
I loved these verses then and love them now. One word beckoned to me as if it were my own… fruit. “You will produce much fruit.” I can do that. This is what I should do with my life. Be fruitful for God. I was a professional motivator, so nobody could bear more fruit than me. (No self-esteem problem here.) I rushed back to work determined to bear a lot of fruit… and I failed miserably! Why?
Zig Ziglar gave me a pin to wear that displayed a fish with the number seven. The idea is that someone would notice the fish and ask: “I know that the fish stands for Christian but what does the seven mean?” There is the opportunity to talk about my relationship with Jesus Christ. I was prepared to say, “You are right. The fish means that I am a Christian and the seven is a reminder that I should serve God all seven days of the week.”
Wow! I knew this was a great way to share my faith.
There was just one problem… no one asked about the pin! I was ready. I had a plan. I was in control. All I needed was an opportunity. Yet, nothing happened! What was wrong? How can an excited new Christian be ready to witness and have no one give them a chance? After a fruitless few weeks, I was sitting alone at my desk wondering if my experience with God was a delusion.
Do you see any similarities between my difficulties over the past few weeks and my struggles as a new Christian? The answers mean changing the way we look at the scripture reading. I was focusing on the wrong word. For me to understand what was happening, I needed to listen more carefully to what Jesus was teaching.
It’s not the fruit that makes this verse special. The right word is…
Oops! Not yet! Read John 15:1-7… then wait for the next column.