The life I once lived was changing for the worse and I was unable to do anything about it. Thoughts of the future became fearfully uncertain and I had a sense of utter helplessness and defeat. I could not fix the problem.
One particular evening after a long work day, I limped to my bedroom to be alone. “What are you trying to tell me? Please show me, Father.” My desperate plea seemed to go unheard so I flipped through my Bible searching for the truth that would rescue me from my problem. At random, I turned to the book of John. “I am the true vine, you are the branches—without me you can do nothing.” I had read those words hundreds of times before and had some general knowledge of them but God was about to open my eyes to a spiritual truth that would change my view of the Christian life.
Pausing to reflect on His words I glanced upward and observed some decorations on our canopy. Beautiful clusters of grapes hung from green leafy branches that wrapped around the rails. The words “you can do nothing” kept echoing in my mind. That’s when it first occurred to me. I observed that the branch was simply abiding in the vine. There was no toiling or striving to bring forth fruit. The branch was not ambitious, regimented, or even talented. It too was helpless, yet it flourished in the vine. The branch was alive and productive; yet resting.
You know where I’m headed. The realization of this truth seemed to come suddenly. In a glorious moment the light of God’s word shone in the dimness of my mind and the dark clouds of uncertainty banished. “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). My eyes filled with tears of gladness as my heart swelled with joy. No longer did I feel the heaviness of worry and fear. God had opened my eyes to a truth that brought calm and peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Christ’s teaching was crystal clear to me. “The Christian life has never been about you. Stop trying to escape your circumstances. Stop struggling. Stop worrying. I want you to find rest in me in the midst of the storm.
Health issues occurring in 1990 were finally diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a neurological disease that affects my speaking ability, fine motor skills, vision, walking, and breathing. Nearly all who have MS experience fatigue which worsens as the disease progresses. Records indicate that most people with MS have “remitting-relapsing” where the disease goes into long periods of remission with few visible signs. The other twenty percent of us have acquired a more advanced case of either “secondary-progressive” or “chronic-progressive.” My type is secondary-progressive.
God will often use the severe trials of life to turn our hearts fully to the Lord Jesus Christ. For this I am grateful. Personally, God is using my physical infirmity to bring a life-changing spiritual awakening. Throughout this difficult and disabling trial He is teaching me that the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient in all things and that I am complete in Him alone. He is teaching me that the abundant Christian life is not attained by the things I can do or the things I possess. It’s the result of who I am in Christ. He is enough!
Prior to having MS, when I was healthy and had stamina, I depended a great deal on my natural abilities to live out the Christian life. I was motivated, focused, determined, and driven to succeed. But I was blind to my self-absorbed life. Previously, I had always viewed myself as a co-laborer with God but I became powerless to do my part. My drive was taken away, my energy was gone, my mobility was diminished, and my outlook for the future was depressing.
God has used the physical infirmity of MS to thump me off the pedestal of self-reliance so I could learn to truly stand on Christ. When I finally acknowledged my true condition and said, “I cannot,” the Lord seemed to be saying to me, “You never could!” You see, I was only considering my immediate condition but God wanted me to reflect on my entire Christian life. He was showing me that any good in my life was always Him. At some point in my Christian life I had formulated the notion that the genuine Christian life involved both my part and God’s part. I once thought, “God needs my help to finish His work here on earth!” Broken and at the end of myself, I finally began to understand and accept the reality that the Christian life is simply Jesus Christ alone. Not in part, but in whole. He can do whatever He chooses to do without any help or consultation from me. I’m simply His vessel. He was giving me, as the late Hudson Taylor once said, an exchanged life.
How about you? Personally, you may not be facing a severe trial at this time in your life. I hope you never do. But know that God desires for the Lord Jesus Christ to become our very life! He desires for us to find complete rest and satisfaction in Christ. God desires for us to know, follow, and love His dear Son.
That’s what this website is about. If you are tired of trying to live an abundant and full Christian life but instead feel shallow and empty, then Christ is your answer. If you are feeling down, defeated, discouraged, or disheartened, then Christ is your answer.
Come with me on the journey of discovery beyond our initial salvation and learn to bask in the fullness of Christ! I think the Apostle Paul best summarizes the Christian life for each of us. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). That should be the aim of every Christian. Whether we live or die—it’s all Christ.