We have crossed the threshold from 2015 to 2016. We are on the brink, at the dawn, on the verge of a new year. As singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer says, “At a threshold there’s often a moment where what is old has passed away, but the new hasn’t quite arrived yet. So you stand there at the doorway.” We are near the end of January and have passed through the doorway. What decisions have you made about making this year count? How can we all make this quickly-passing time significant? When you and I are on the threshold of 2017, will we look back at wasted time or will we smile at what we and God have done together?
EDITING OUR LIVES
I told the writer’s group I lead recently that the most important words in a piece of writing are the ones we leave out, because that allows the remaining words to shine. Therefore it is important to edit our writing to make it the best it can be. As I said those words, I thought about how true they are about our lives as well. Learning to edit our lives will make the reflections, words, and actions that remain shine!
How do we learn to “edit our lives” to make sure each day counts? First, we have to develop the ability to “live consciously.” As Fr. Richard Rohr says, “Consciousness is me seeing me seeing” (Breathing Under Water, Spirituality and the Twelve Steps). That means I have to:
- learn to step outside myself
- discern my behavior
- choose to change my behavior or go ahead with that behavior
Next, we have to make a practice of looking back daily and reflecting on whether our words and actions were wasted or significant. Was our day spent in life-giving thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors? Or were we stuck in a life-thwarting mind-set? What can we do differently tomorrow?
Jesus helps us understand this process by telling us that we are like a branch in a vineyard or a plant in a garden. That branch or plant is joined to Jesus. God the Farmer prunes each vine or plant. If it doesn’t bear fruit, he cuts it off. If it is fruit bearing, he prunes it to be more fruitful.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.
You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me (John 15: 1-6, MSG).”
Imagine a farmer at work in his vineyard or garden – digging up weeds, pulling off dead blossoms or rotten vegetables, pruning back vines or trees or shrubs. Now picture God in the garden of your life. What needs to be pulled out or removed so that you can grow in your love for God or others? Is God seeing fruit in your life and pruning you so that you can be even more fruitful? What work does God need to do to help you make 2016 a significant year? Accepting God’s pruning is the way we edit our lives.
Look back at this first month of 2016. How has God pruned you so far in January? What did God remove or cut back? Why was it necessary? Can you see new “fruit” growing where the dead wood was pruned?
The Message translate verse 4 of this passage: “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.” Do you ever think of the enormity of the idea that Christ lives in you? Make that thought real by saying every morning and every night: “I am _______(insert your first name) in whom Christ dwells and delights.”
See yourself as a fruitful garden whose caretaker is God, the Creator of the world. Allow God to do the work in your life that God sees necessary. Then each day of 2016 will be edited so that the best of you can shine – and the world can see Jesus in you.
image by BinghamFamilyVineyards.com