I realize that all the one word for 2012 posts have long been posted by now. But I don't mind reminding myself that, really, we're only 10 days in. We've all gone back to work and workouts and just saying 'no' to all the candy that has somehow ridden out the wake of Christmastime and lingers menacingly from the coffee table, calling out to us... just one more. Still, even though back to reality, we sense a rush of rest now that all the holiday shenanigans are behind us forever... except that they're 10 months ahead. See, 10 isn't very much after all...
I don't normally have one word for the year. That is, my mind is usually just a little too disjointed to focus on or even tie everything together into one thing for 12 months. But then, on January 1st, we studied part of John 15 at our church service and... well... I couldn't get this word out of my mind.
Here's the passage we studied, Jesus' very words:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Simply abide. Abide in Jesus, and abide in His love. And let His words abide in me.
Last year about this time, I felt like I was in a fruitless season, in the sense that I believed nothing was happening to or through me and that I wasn't going to be of much use to anyone for a while. But in the midst of that season, I remembered these words, and they gave me rest:
How blessed is the (woman)
who does not walk
in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But (her) delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law (she) meditates
day and night.
(She) will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever (she) does,
These words from Psalm 1 gave me peace... To know that even the tree that is firmly planted by streams of water -- in God's Spirit and drinking in God's living word, that is -- even that tree isn't expected to bear fruit year-round. No, and just because it's not bearing fruit in a particular season does not mean it's dead, for "its leaf does not wither." And that was me last year. Not dead, just not particularly fruitful. And that was OK. God didn't (and still doesn't) expect me to bear fruit year-round (or even every year). He gave me rest and peace in the truth that there is a season to be fruitful, but that there is also a season to simply be alive.
But this year... This year, I can already sense will be different. I believe, I hope, I pray this is my season to bear fruit. Whether that means more intentional (but also more organic) ministry to women and music-lovers and blog-readers... whether that means starting a family... whether that means taking Thornfield beyond little coffeeshop gigs to wider audiences... Whatever it means, I think it will involve planting seeds, nourishing them, and letting them grow. And if I want them to produce much fruit, good fruit, lasting fruit, there is only one thing I must do: abide in the vine.
So, 2012, I'm drinking of the fruit of the vine to this: to abiding, and thereby to bearing much more fruit to drink of!