"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5 (ESV)
Looking through tear-blurred contacts, I pulled out of the school parking lot after dropping off the kids. What a morning! It was a typical school day, but conflict and frustration ran rampant.
Earlier that morning, I had erupted. Angry words rained down on my children without restraint. Now that the moment had passed, I imagined those harsh phrases soaking deeply into their little hearts throughout the school day. Shame and regret took over my own heart.
Priority one after drop-off was to catch up on my homework for the next day's Bible study meeting, but as I headed toward home, condemnation filled my mind.
“After the way you acted, are you really going to sit down with your Bible?”
“Did you see yourself back there?”
“What a hypocrite!”
“What kind of a mom does that?”
“You have no business reading the Bible, much less studying it.”
I felt defeated, certain my lack of patience and self-control disqualified me from spending time in the Bible. I couldn't bear the thought of opening the Word while carrying such a heavy weight of shame, but something in my heart told me I needed God's Word now more than ever.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar dilemma, feeling like you had single-handedly obliterated any hope of furthering your relationship with God?
Let’s listen to Jesus’ tender words as He spoke to His disciples. In the book of John, chapters 13-17, Jesus was having a long talk with them prior to His crucifixion. According to a parallel gospel account in Luke 22, this was not too long after the disciples had been arguing about who would be the greatest among them — not their finest moment.
Here’s a snippet of what Jesus said to them:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Jesus, full of grace and Truth, enjoined His disciples to draw close to Him while He also reminded them of the sum total of their abilities apart from Him. He didn't expect them to be perfect before they came to Him; He already knew their limitations, and He still welcomed them.
Maybe Jesus anticipated the universal struggle between feeling unworthy and accepting grace because, a few sentences later, He reassuringly said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9, ESV).
No condemnation, no prerequisites.
Those words, written thousands of years ago, are still relevant today. I don’t have to steer clear of Jesus when I feel like a failure. As a matter of fact, all throughout Scripture you'll see there's no such thing as, “You're not good enough to come to God.”
It feels awkward, but during those times of deep shame and embarrassment, the best thing we can do is to swallow our pride and lean in closer to Him.
So the next time we have a rough morning, afternoon or even bedtime (come, Lord Jesus), rather than letting our failures cause us to hide, we need to abide.
He wouldn’t want it any other way.
Dear Jesus, please remind me of Your love for me even when I’ve messed up. Help me to sit beside You when shame and regret tell me I should run away. You are the One who restores and renews. Thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Lamentations 3:21-23, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (ESV)
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Today’s devotion author, Karen M. Rapp, is a member of COMPEL Training and one of the eight winners of the 2020 COMPEL Devotion Writing Challenge. Learn more about COMPEL Training, find encouragement and support in your writing journey, and discover how you can join here!
REFLECT AND RESPOND
What circumstances cause you to be hesitant to spend time with God? How would your outlook change if you approached God despite those feelings of inadequacy? Share with us in the comments!
© 2021 by Karen Rapp. All rights reserved.
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