Friday, February 23, 2007

A Simple Garden-Variety Branch


"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do..." I Peter 1:15

I became a better person when I stopped trying to become one.

No, really! You should have seen me years ago... I'd read Bible verses in the morning and then spend the rest of the day trying to act them out. It was like living on a 'Christian stage' and performing what I'd read in the script.

But even when I memorized the script, said all my lines with perfect inflections of voice, stood on all my correct marks and performed just right--even on those days--when I succeeded, still I failed.

Why? Because, as I read somewhere years ago, 'only God can beget God.' Or in my paraphrase, 'only God can make me act like Jesus.'

Long ago I hopped off the stage-- jumped right down and walked away from the pressure and stress of all that acting. And now there's one set of lines I live by... one sentence bright and bold upon the script I carry:

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

(Okay, technically that's two sentences...)

If I'm frustrated, messing-up, and altogether blowing-it, the only hope for me is to allow the very Life of Jesus to flow through this branch, otherwise known as me. Only He can wash away my imperfections and replace them with His goodness, His love, His perfection.

And that's why I quit trying to be good! Because my goodness could never, would never, be good enough. Even if it appeared to be--God would always know and see the difference.

But if I try to be anything now, I just try to be a simple branch. Just a branch! An ordinary branch who happens to love watching the leaves appear in Spring and the fruit being harvested at Summer's end... not as a result of my trying, but rather, just because of receiving Life from the Vine.

Good-bye frustration.
Good-bye stress.
Good-bye hating myself when I fail.

Hello peace.

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