This is a letter I wrote to my aunt a couple of years ago and just re-discovered while I was cleaning out my email. I'm certain it's no coincidence that I found this today. People, places and things that we need in our lives tend to appear or re-appear at just the right moment.
Dear Aunt Doris:
I want to share something with you, and I hope I can explain this well enough for you to understand what an amazing thing this was for me.
I have been feeling especially frustrated by a medical condition I have been dealing with for over a year, and one which no one, so far, has been able to explain or diagnose. The last few days have been particularly difficult, and I have been feeling equal measures of frustration and despair. So, in the hopes that Joyce Meyer (Enjoying Everyday Life) would say something that would make me feel better and restore my hope, I decided to watch some of her programs which have been patiently waiting for me on my TiVo box. It just so happened, although now I do not believe it was merely a coincidence, that the next Joyce Meyer program on my TiVo list was about frustration. She hit on several points which hit home.
John 15:11 Which talks about how Jesus wants us to be really happy. Not just a little happy, but with joy and delight of full measure and overflowing. That's what He died for. And, after all, a joyful Christian is a good witness for everyone they encounter. A sad, depressed, angry, or cranky Christian is just not a good advertisement, so to speak.
John 15:1-10 Which talks about how God wants us to bear excellent fruit but, to do that, there will have to be pruning away of dead and useless branches (things in our lives) that are sucking the life out of us. So, we should abide (live, dwell and remain) with God at all times, so we can bear much excellent fruit with ease. In other words, you must spend time reading scripture, praying, meditating, and abiding with God every day. Or, as Joyce puts it, just hang on the vine for a while.
Now, at this point, she had a visual aid in the form of a big board with leaves attached. The board was divided up into squares, and each square was labeled "Day 1," "Day 2," "Day 3," etc. In the first square was a group of fresh, green leaves which had been off the vine for one day; the second square had some leaves which had been off the vine for two days, and so on. Now, by about Day 5, those leaves were looking pretty brown and as Joyce said "crispy around the edges."
Joyce went on to explain that this demonstrated what happens to us when we don't stay on the vine and abide in God daily. We wilt and shrivel and become "crispy around the edges." In other words, spending 45 minutes a week in church is not going to keep you fresh and green and bearing excellent fruit easily. (Joyce said when she contemplated this scripture, she realized she was pruned if she did and pruned if she didn't. LOL)
She then went on to say when she first became a Christian, it took her almost a full year to accept that she is a child of God and He loves her unconditionally. (For those who don't watch Joyce, you should know she was abused and molested as a child.) She said she would look in her mirror every morning and say, "God loves YOU!" And she would do the same in her car when she driving, and at any other time she thought of it. She said it took that full year for that belief to make it from her head to her heart and take root. She said first and foremost you must truly believe and understand that you are rooted and grounded in God's unconditional love and then you should take some time to hang on the vine and be nourished and encouraged and strengthened.
Taking Joyce's advice, right after the program ended, I went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and said to myself, "God loves you unconditionally." I was surprised at how difficult that was for me to do. So, I said it again and, of course, I began to cry. I walked into my living room to retrieve a tissue, and that's when I saw a perfectly healthy, bright green leaf from my ivy plant laying in the floor, a good five feet from the plant. I was baffled, because I knew that leaf was not there when I left the room, and there was no good explanation for how it had ended up so far from the plant. The cooler wasn't on and the windows weren't open. I went over and picked it up and examined it. To my amazement, it looked as if it had been carefully snipped from the vine and gently placed on the floor.
I stood there looking at that leaf for a moment and, then, I started to laugh. I couldn't help it. It just bubbled out from deep within me. And I said aloud, "Looks like I'm gettin' pruned!"
And I'm still laughing. Truly, this is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I think there are a couple of messages in this for me (actually for all of us): (1) God does love me unconditionally, and that part of me that didn't believe that needed to be pruned away, because it has been sucking the life out of me and keeping me from moving forward as a Christian; (2) There may be some additional pruning, and I need to stay tuned for further instructions regarding this; (3) God does have His eye on me and He has a good plan for me.
One more thing I would like to add is that this happened last Wednesday, and that ivy leaf is still green and is NOT crispy around the edges five days later!
I hope this makes some kind of sense to you, because this experience has refreshed me and re-ignited my hope and joy in a way I can't begin to describe.
You should also know that, shortly after this experience, I found the most caring, knowledgeable, and excellent doctor I have ever known. With his guidance and considerable skills, I was quickly on the road back to health. And, even during the rocky bits between sickness and health, I was able to maintain a spirit of expectant hope that all would be well, because I had finally accepted God's love for me and had asked for His help. Several times over the next few months, my doctor called me to report test results and to see how I was feeling. He was constantly amazed that I was feeling so well and upbeat, when my test results indicated I shouldn't be able to get off the couch. I would just look up toward the sky, smile, and whisper "thank you."
I'm not quite sure what thoughts or things I am clinging to now that need to be pruned and discarded. But I have no doubt when they are I will take another step towards being the Christian and the person I am meant to be. Now, that's something to look forward to. And, there I go again - chuckling to myself.
Just remember that God does love you unconditionally. Hold that knowledge in your heart, and do not ever be afraid to say: "Help, Lord, I can't do this without you."
If you have never watched Joyce Meyer, I highly recommend you do. She has a truly unique way of showing how scripture applies to our every day lives. Plus, she is a real character, whose stories will often make you laugh out loud, for real. Click here to go to her web site.
I have studied the Bible and tried to sort out what it says about health and healing, and then I discovered Joyce has compiled all the healing scriptures in one place. I truly believe they have helped me time and again over the last few years. Yeah, I know you are probably skeptical and are envisioning tent-revivals and sketchy faith-healers slapping people on the forehead and declaring them healed. That's not what I'm talking about at all. It is a fact that God wants us to be well, but most of us don't take the medicine He has prescribed. At any rate, you've got nothing to lose by giving them a read, right? Click here.