Abide on the Vine
I starting writing this post almost 3 years ago with the words, "I haven’t posted a blog in a long while." I recorded the following story, but didn't hit "publish". God wasn't finished.
To understand why such passing of time, consider the Principles of the Harvest as someone once noted:
You WILL reap.
You will reap WHAT you sow.
You will reap LATER THAN you sow.
You will reap MORE THAN you sow.
I sowed the Word of God, watered it with my tears, fertilized it with fasting, and empowered it with prayer.
I realize now that this would mark a new beginning in my life and usher in some incredible changes. Moving forward, although my journey continued, my blog posts ceased.
Amazing how moments can have impact on years!
I believe it is time to share the story. First, let's go back and see what so dramatically marked a new season and a bountiful harvest in my life.
It all began in 2017 with an 18-day water fast, an extended prayer, a quote by Andrew Murray, and above all, the powerful words recorded in John 15.
The combination worked together to create something much like an atomic bomb in my heart! Afterwards I was stilled inside. In the aftermath, I completely quit blogging and became a silent FaceBook friend, and this extravert became more introverted. I think of Job's words, "I lay my hand on my mouth," Job 40:4.
All this because of the power of God as described in Job 37,
"The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders. God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend."
Jesus spoke such thunderous words into my soul when I read a quite familiar passage in scripture,
“I AM the true Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser”
If a man remains in Me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit,”... John 15:1
Andrew Murray, 1828–1917, wrote about these words spoken by our Lord,
"Jesus' words reveal the deepest motivation of His life and work. We must learn of Jesus, how He is meek and lowly of heart. He teaches us where true humility begins and finds its strength - in the
knowledge that it is God who works all in all, that our place is to yield to Him in perfect resignation
and dependence, in full consent to be and to do nothing of ourselves.”
Why is "perfect resignation and dependence so important? The reason is in also found in John 15...
"...for apart from Me, you can do nothing." John15:5
The following story began in 2017 as I pondered what it would look like to "abide on the Vine". As I was fasting, praying, and meditating on these verses about "abiding on the Vine", a prayer partner approached me. She asked if I had done much in the way of speaking to groups. I told her that yes, in the past I had done much speaking and that I enjoyed it very much. She said she would pray for opportunities .
To my friend I said yes; to the Lord I said, “I will do nothing to make it happen. If you want me to speak to groups, I will watch, wait, and pray. I will "abide on the Vine.”
The very next week, a Chinese friend on the university campus where I live messaged me, “Would you come to my apartment and share your testimony to a group of students?”
I had no idea who these students were or even what nationality they’d be. I continued to pray.
The students began to arrive on Friday night and it became evident that most of these students didn’t know each other. They were all trying to figure out the connection as to why they had been invited. The connection turns out to be that all these students had mentioned to my friend their love for missions.
After dinner, we gathered on the floor. I began by first letting them share something about themselves. Most were M.K.s (missionary kids). As usual, M.K.s have unusual stories! The first girl said she was in the process of trying to figure out her identity, where home is, and her role in God’s kingdom. Then the next girl, another MK shared a similar story. We went around and everyone shared! Most were MKs but there was one Coptic Christian who had arrived recently from Egypt, the 'guitar guy' who had been homeschooled, and another guy who had gotten a disillusioned with missions. All were attending CIU, living in my apartment complex.
Now that I knew a little about them, I could share in a meaningful way. I gave my testimony, my journey to Africa, the challenges of life in another country, language learning, the evacuation, and the impact missions has on MKs. Mostly I shared how God’s Word had kept me steadfast over the years.
I told them that no matter what happens, God is sovereign. Throughout our lives, He weaves us in and out of experiences, forming our character and preparing us for the work He has called us to do (see Ephesians 2:10).
I ended the evening by giving each student a pearl. I explained the symbolism and significance (you can read my blogpost about pearls and the Mixe Indians in Mexico). I shared about how the Mixe were praying for anyone who received a pearl and about my 2 gospel partners who graciously gave me their mother’s pearls to give away to whomever God led. I told them about Sedef, the Muslim medical student in Turkey whose name “just happened” to translate, “Mother of Pearl”.
Before the guitar player led us in singing, he shared that he had dropped out of church for a while, but God had convicted him. He found a little Baptist church nearby. He said, “They sing really old hymns from a hymnal.” He shared that didn’t know any of the songs, but that the lyrics were amazing. He then handed out the words to…
“Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”
What an incredible evening the Lord had arranged!
All this because of my friend’s prayer for me to have opportunities to speak to groups. The evening brought about deep spiritual fellowship and blessings for the students who gathered.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
This special event ended with a personal blessing for me...as it says in Matthew 6:33 it was just added!. I received something most unexpected, personal, and profoundly meaningful.
My Chinese friend shared with me about the unreached people group that I once met when I was traveling the mountains in China.
Her story was a gift to my heart! But she also gave me another gift, one so very precious: she signed my Bible, adding to the other 50 different languages gathered as I travel around the world.
She wrote in a language her grandmother taught her ~ ancient Mandarin Chinese!!! She told me that she also loved pearls so the verse she chose was Matthew 13:45-46,
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”