I have a confession. Recently as I ran past a house on my jog, and was stopped dead in my tracks. I bent over to see their recent installment of “turf”. This is Colorado and it’s hard to grow grass. But, seriously?
Beauty is found in unexpected places. I went to the Oregon coast recently, 3 hours each way in a van of 7 ladies including Elissa, our mom and me, and 180 minutes of getting to know these 4 SoCal transplants.
I had no idea what to expect. Bandon, Oregon is a small town known for cranberry production and a store that has a million samples of cranberry jelly candies (I didn’t have an appetite afterwards). We made our home for 3 days in a camp that sat right on the edge of the coast. Glory.
Typical is the last word I’d use to describe these three days. After we led worship, we were followed by a series of challenging messages that left me franticly taking notes! Our speaker, Kari, told us about the time when she saw her parents adding plastic flowers to their front yard. This made her think about the fruit in our lives and our spiritual journey. Yet, in the world we live in, plastic fruit is everywhere. It’s all too common to fake, to put on a happy face, and pretend that we’re doing just fine in our plastic gardens.
Real fruit shows the world what God is like. While the plastic only confuses and leaves people empty and still thirsty for something real. Real life is not always pretty, and a real garden has its weeds and pests.
I was scribbling notes and reading John 15 as if I had just heard this for the first time. I so desperately want to be someone who is real, honest, a display of God’s love to the world around me. Yet I feel that I get too busy focusing on the outside. Hair appointment, fall shopping, cleaning the house, everything in a tidy package… But all of that is not as important as the inside. This is what God looks at, and what He uses to make a difference.
No one ever saw a silk rose and said it’s beautiful and smells better than the real one. In fact, if my husband brought home silk flowers, I’d laugh…
Life as a Christ-follower is not about checking off our “good deeds” list so that we feel better about ourselves and our friends praise us. It’s about the work that Jesus does on the inside of our hearts. If we’re too busy, too afraid, too skeptical, we’ll just settle for turf instead of real grass. Plastic instead of authentic.
The weekend in Oregon has challenged me to look deeper, beyond the surface, and really ask, “Is the ‘fruit’ of my life lasting and real?”
John 15 (The Message) “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.
But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”