Yesterday, a friend from church gently let me know that I don’t seem to take my quiet time seriously enough. He was right, and I’m glad he told me.
My home church pastor, Mike Burchfield, has spoken before of his mantra as a young Christian — “No Bible, no Breakfast.” I’ve started my own now — “No Bible, No Blogging.” Mostly because blogging can be very easy and time-consuming, and, before I know it, it can take me away from the Word and the Lord.
So, all this to say, that this morning, instead of using my break at working to post my blog, I meditated on Scripture. I’ve been in Isaiah, and today I sat in Isaiah 27:2-3:
In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day.
This talk of the vineyard brought to mind John 15, where Jesus calls himself the true vine. So, I read John 15, and then chewed over all of it, and even memorized the two verses from Isaiah (as best I could) to think on during the rest of my shift.
When I got back on the floor at work, I wrote the verses on a piece of paper and set it on the espresso machine in our drive-thru area.
Man, I really was happy with my spiritual state. I was saturating myself with the Word, living as I ought to. Redeeming my time.
I impressed myself and I was happy, because I was freaking abiding.
Then, it got busy, and I was listening to a drink order on my drive-thru headset. I was preparing the drink (a hot tea), when I realized that two of my fellow workers were calling my name.
“Huh?” I looked at them, completely oblivious. They had called my name at least three times.
“I’ve got the tea ready,” one of them said.
Then they were laughing.
I was tired. I am tired still. When I’m tired, because I’m feeble and dust, my mood rides a razor.
I felt stupid and irritated; and I snapped. I took the cup I had in hand and chucked it hard into a nearby trash-can.
“Whatever, do the drink! I was just trying to listen to the order!”
And I stormed back to the drive-thru espresso machine, crumpling the verse I had written and throwing it away. Because leaving it there was hypocrisy.
Well, I (in case you missed it) reacted (and felt) like something that starts with “jack” and ends with “donkey.”
I had to apologize to everyone, especially the girl I snapped at.
I humiliated myself, and God humbled me.
When, later, after work, I read through the same Scriptures, John 15:4 hit me.
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 so overwhelmed myself with my own success in attaining some level of spiritual and devotional aptitude, that I bumbled my way into self-righteous humiliation. Later God showed me that I missed the point. When I wrote down that verse, I wasn’t truly depending, and I wasn’t truly abiding. Because I can’t bear fruit, apart from Jesus, not with all the verses in the world memorized, or sticky-noted on every place I set my eyes. My “abiding” was of my own doing. But only God keeps his vineyard, and waters it and gives the vines their grapes.
I’m just grateful that God does his work; and that he does water his vineyard; and that, this morning, he pruned this meager and sparse branch.