5 Words in 1
I remember when I first moved to Phoenix there were orange trees everywhere.
There were even trees growing in the median of one of our freeways. It looked so enticing out there yet not once had I seen anyone picking it.
Then one day I pulled my car over to the side of the road and ran across. I picked a few oranges to enjoy later.
Yet when I peeled one of them and took a bite I was unpleasantly surprised. Although they had the proper appearance, it tasted terrible!
In subsequent research I learned that while orange trees can grow and produce fruit in even less than ideal soil, without proper fertilization, the fruit is often inedible.
So while I was admiring the appearance of the fruit, what actually mattered was what was nourishing the root.
I have been cleaning up my diet. Physically, my choices in food changed a couple of years ago. Likewise, the things I am allowing to feed my mind are changing.
Yet there is still plenty of room to increase “nutrients. ” I don’t want people to admire my fruit from afar but then taste to find it bitter.
Even when one begins fertilizing a tree it will take time to yield a sweet harvest.
I consider this in light of Philippians 1:6 where it reminds us that He who began a good work in us will see it through unto completion.
Jesus is nourishing our soil but what we add in our freedom of choice sure makes a difference in how long it takes for our lives to bear the kind of good fruit that He intends.
Jesus, You remind us in Your word that good trees bear good fruit.
I surrender my roots to You so that I may receive the nourishment I need to produce a sweet aroma and a fruit that helps nourish and edify, not embitter.
May what I receive from You manifest in the words I speak and in the actions I take.
I know this is a process that takes time and so I ask that You would help me to be patient with the process.
The Total Sum?
When we receive what we don’t deserve and don’t receive what we do, we know that’s God’s grace at work within us.
When we fail our shame prompts us to run from Him. Yet there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
When we turn and seek His face we are always welcomed. When we stretch out our arms we are always embraced. How many times will He accept us back?
The sum total of our failures…. plus one…
The great mystery is that in truly receiving this unconditional love and immeasurable grace we don’t see it as a license to sin but as an invitation to grow into who He has already declared us to be… and in response our hearts cry, “YES!”
Which is it? Is my identity in Christ defined by what I do?
Or is what I do meant to come out of who I am?
It is easy to agree with the textbook definition of identity when we are not put to the test. Yet when we are put under strain and our actions are inconsistent with our ideals, frustration sets in.
We ask ourselves self defeating questions like, “What’s wrong with me?”
Freedom is not found in consistent behavior. Rather, it is in consistent identity. Only then does what we do begin to flow out of who we are.
Remember, Jesus didn’t choose to take up residence in our hearts because we are worthy but because He is.
He didn’t choose to die on the cross so we could get it right but because we couldn’t. So true identity isn’t found in “self” at all. It is found in Him.
We must die to self if He is going to live freely through us. It is here we will walk out in action who we have been in Him all along.
You are the Good Ground that nourishes.
All that is rooted in You flourishes and prospers. All that grows elsewhere may see a season of seeming growth but surely it will wither and die.
Consider our lives and how easy it is to compartmentalize. Yet I wonder about the insanity of our minds when we think one thing is directly related to God while another is not.
Yet from our first breath to our last, all is His and therefore directly involves Him.
How much more productive and blessed would our lives be if all that we are and all that we do was rooted in Him?
This is not a picture of a life free from trials. No, trials are part of the perfection He is working within us Yet with His strength coursing through our veins we can and shall endure.
We will OVERCOME.
~ Mitch Salmon