Monday, April 14, 2008

Striving and Shriveled OR Abiding and Juicy?

Do you ever, sort of notice people when you are waiting in line? Friday before last, while my Honey was gone fishing for the evening with his brother, I went to the local huge *&*&*Mart. It's NOT my favorite store, but I confess, economy often lures me. I was exchanging one size of shorts for another size of the same shorts, for Honey.

It had been a very good, and very busy day. I was recovering from the flu. Truthfully, I wasn't looking or feeling too perky. However, I was by no means miserable. As I stood there awaiting my turn, I noticed everyone all around me. Since the line was fairly long, I had all the many people staggered in line ahead of me, and several workers at the counter ahead, taking care of us as we each took our turns. So there were plenty of different people to see.

I hope that as you read this, you won't consider my thoughts here as condescending, because I was moved in my heart by what I saw. To see what I saw really made me sad. No One, absolutely No One, seemed to have any joy, At. All. One was out right angry and frantic (worker). Others seemed everything from resigned to their circumstances, to despondent, hopeless, and some just aimless. I thought to myself, how some years ago, the Lord had dealt with me about my demeanor, that I should care that I looked approachable, and willing to smile, and or engage people in conversation. How can I be the fragrance of Christ among the lost, or how can I be ready to give an answer for the hope I have, if I look too miserable or anxious to have anything good to offer? You have to know that because I am such an internal sort of person, I didn't always think about how I looked, and on a busy day, that could mean I looked a little off-putting. When in reality, I may have been perfectly willing to strike up a conversation...my face just would not always give that message. Now days, I generally seem more approachable, and will always start the conversation with the cashiers. But, at this moment of observation I had to ask myself, what did I look like? I think it wasn't too bad. When I got to the counter I actually got the harried and angry clerk. It was good, because just a smile and a couple of soft comments and a sincere thank you, and she was actually able to smile herself, albeit a bit reluctantly, but a smile is a SMILE!

I thought while I was waiting,
of the Jesus is the vine illustration, we are the branches, His Father as the vinedresser, from John 15. Because, at least to the obvious look, there was no abiding going on at that moment. I thought, "Lord, they look so dry, so empty, so without hope, so full of burdens and woe. Lord, if you came right now, what would they think? What would their reaction be? What would mine be?" I just don't believe that life is supposed to be like that for people. Yet, I fear many do not know that their faith is supposed to be the REASON we have hope, not just their ticket to Heaven one day. He sustains us, He wants to be our strength, carry our burdens for us, so that we can go about being His emissaries of mercy, joy, hope, love.

Just before Easter, I read a short devotional that gave me pause. It brought out the point that to abide is to dwell in, to rest in, to lean against. We often understand the part, that we are to do that in Jesus, but what captivated me this time, was the "Whooosh" of the realization that when we do that, when we rest in Him, dwell in Him, lean against Him, then HE dwells in US! He does the same thing in us, He asks us to do in Him. How amazing! How joyous, and how humbling!

I do not want to be a shriveled up branch that He is not free to flow through. I want to be attached vitally to Him, with Him flowing through me, plumping out and nourishing my fruit!

Those people were striving
. There was NO rest. I want to see more people connected to the vine. More people that have wisdom to go with their smile, because they know what they know what they know!

"I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing]
He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit,
to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
You are cleansed and pruned already,
because of the word which I have given you
[the teachings I have discussed with you].
Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
I am the Vine; you are the branches.
Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.
However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing...
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.
This is what I command you: that you love one another."
John 15:1-5, 16-17

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18 comments:

Cecily R said...

What a great reminder Maria!! As always...

Next time I am standing in line at ***mart I am going to think of you and smile.

Carole said...

Excellent Post

joan said...

Hi free to fly,

I am jumping over from Karolee's coffe house to say hi. I thought your comments on her posts were well said and wanted to pay you a visit. Love your blog and enjoyed my time here.

Sharon Brumfield said...

From one internal person to another--this hit me.I live in my head. Kind of like a turtle. :)
I have to remind myself to poke my head out and smile and observe those around me.
Wally world is an easy place for me to do that. I do try to engage in conversation with those waiting on me. I want them to know that I see them. It sounds funny but this takes energy for me.I have to remind myself to so it.But I do want them to feel His love. And you are right--a lost in thought serious face does not always pass that love on.
Sometimes people say--smile--and it is not that I am unhappy....just lost in thought.
Thank you.....again, I will try and remember to smile.:)

freetofly said...

Cecily - That is a sweet thing to say! I'm honored! P.S. I so love that Isaac was disappointed he didn't get a Dinosauer! Hysterical!

Carole - Thank you! Thanks to your play list I still singing Delta Dawn! :)

Joan - Great to meet you! Thank you so much for your generous comment & your visit! I love making new bloggy friends & I truly enjoy Karolee! I will be visiting you soon!

Sharon - I can relate to all you said! Fortunately we live and learn! And we broaden our boarders, which is His intent all the time! Thanks, friend!

xoxo,
Maria (P.S. I can't resist)
- Go Forth & Be Juicy! :)

StaceyStace said...

I have been told I look angry at times I have been in deep thought. Being predominantly introverted, I always have a storm going on in my head, to the point that I don't notice other people sometimes. I have also tried to be more aware of this. I am glad to know I'm not the only one!

btw, I think you and I could have some great conversations about my research topics! I loved your comments.

luvmy4sons said...

Great reminder! Good stuff! I can never see you as shriveled up! I CAN let life get to me sometimes. This is such good stuff to remember. I tend to be friendly and outgoing talking to strangers and laughing most times, but if I am rushed and in too much of a hurry...I bet I have looked unapproachable before! Love you girl!

Knit-Wit said...

Good for you to bring out a smile in that cashier. She was probably worn out with all the complaints of the day and needed the respit you gave her. What a blessing you were to her.

Denise said...

We need to let the Son out through our faces, smiles are wonderful.

MelanieJoy said...

Yesterday we took the kids to the park and of course Aunt M had to take some pictures. So I drop them of not at ***mart but ***greens (hahaha)- in the one hour mind you. Left home early this morning to get the pictures that I dropped off the day before...machine is down. Went by after a loooonnnggg day at work still no pictures. I caught myself about to go off on the poor girl but didn't. She I'm sure read my face and started to explain. I think it suprised her when I said it was okay and that I understood....hehe and still say have a good day as I walked off. Man, I sure wanted my pictures though =( I think that was all a little TMI (too much information)
Thanks for the reminder!

Regina said...

Hey Lady M!
What a awesomely spectacular post!! Me, my mother, and my daughter were just talking about this because we recently went to the @#%Mart and (we usually tend to go to the *^%$Mart together) we always seem to be the only ones having fun. We laugh, we joke, and generally enjoy ourselves and each other. We have even had cashiers at the Mart tell us how we made their day!
When we are leaving and say have a blessed day we mean it and they always look surprised like they don't know how to respond.
I am so glad to have the love of the Lord in me and always try to show it and I'm glad there are other like you out there!
The world isn't as dismal as it sometimes seems...

Tiffany said...

Great post! We are so on the same wave length. I had a rather cheerful conversation w/ the girl who waited on me in the taco bell drive throu, and the young man who checked me out @ the grocery.I'm all about being a big ole juicey grape! (hee-hee!)- I'm just in a really great place "spiritually" right now and it spills over into everything. Blessings!

Matchbox Mom said...

Good Post!!!
I always worry that i'm not approachable too. I hope that people think that i'm happy, because I am!!!

Hugs

Sharon Brumfield said...

If you get out and about in blogdom I have a tag for you.
I pray today that you are filled mightily with His Spirit and that you remember you have the mind of Christ.

My Dad prays the above for his kids everyday.

Irritable Mother said...

Monday I was at the store and saw one many several times. He was there with his wife, who was using a walker. The thing I noticed about him was the amazing smile he wore and the graciousness and patience he seemed to have as he walked behind his wife and helped her get things off the shelf.
After passing him and enjoying his smile I thought about my own countenance and tried to make sure I was wearing a smile, too.
I don't know if Jesus was abiding in that man's heart, but if I had to guess based only on his face, I would guess so!

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freetofly said...

Stacey - I would so LOVE that! You have to tell me how your project goes! I am psyched for you! And you are SOO not alone, as you can see by the comments, many of us deal with this I believe!

Leslie - You are so sweet! Thank you! I can PROMISE I have been. But, I think I have come a LONG way! I can just imagine that you never met a stranger! You too!

Karolee - It felt good to see a change. I love when that happens. Truthfully I think it blesses me just as much! I'm sure you would have done the same! Thank you!

Denise - you are correct for sure!

Melanie Joy - Cheers for you! I sure hope you have your pics by now!

Regina - Your comment just made me smile! I can so picture you and your Mom and daughter having a good time and spreading cheer wherever you go! Our store needs more people like you! :)

Tiff - Sounds like a good season for you, I am so glad! You keep being a big squishy grape with sparkly friends! :)

Matchbox Mom - well with your beautiful family, I reckon so! ;)

Sharon - thank you for the tag & even more for the sweet prayer! Been busy with my Honey!

Karen - I hope by the time I get to be his age - that Christ really is showing up in me like in that man!

Hope you all are having a beautiful week!

Maria

Mel's World said...

Maria,

When you put the words on the blog and share them from your heart they are just amazing. The imagery, the TRUTH, the wisdom...it's just pure JOY!

Thank you for the great words!

Melissa

What Does it Mean Anyway? "Free to Fly"...

Well, it's like this: Here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Free: a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen b : enjoying civil and political liberty c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another2 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself...having a scope not restricted by qualification 7 a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded ...Now, here are some of the Webster's Dictionary definitions of Fly:1 a : to move in or pass through the air with wings b : to move through the air or before the wind or through outer space c : to float, wave, or soar in the air ... a : to take flight ...6 : to work successfully ...Examples which apply from Websters: fly high : to be elated - fly in the face of or fly in the teeth of : to stand or act forthrightly or brazenly in defiance or contradiction of

What does this mean in my life? This means that in life we are meant to be free. While historically mankind has not always enjoyed the opportunity to fully appreciate what that means, we are so indescribably fortunate as to live in a time of the greatest spiritual, physical, financial and political freedom ever known. Freedom doesn't come cheap, nor does it come easy. But the best things in life don't come that way do they? As I write this I am struck by how this sounds like a political statement, and for me this is much more of a spiritual thing, but, same goes for that (political that is). Freedom doesn't come easy. And it's worth whatever fight you have to make to overcome in your life in order to live a life that succeeds. Now the questions is - what is success for you? What is your standard? In my mind what is needed is a definite target - because you can't hit and maintain a moving target. A stable, rock-solid, anchor with no variable, yet multi-faceted. Something pure, just and worthy. If you look at any web page of news you can see that our society is certainly lacking in this area. What a great time to live as a rebel! Nowadays to be a rebel, all you have to do is be willing to engage in the battle of life, while anchored to Christ!