Recently, I decided to surprise my beautiful wife with a bouquet of flowers, being the romantic husband that I am (smile). As I walked into the store, I was met with a spectacular array of colored petals of all shapes and sizes. It took a degree of deliberation to decide which bouquet to choose, and after inquiring about the differences between the blooms, I proudly made my decision. Of course, when I walked through the door of our home with the bouquet in my grasp, I was rewarded with tears of joy from my Lady.
A few weeks have gone by and the bouquet I purchased is still on our kitchen table, but it has undergone some serious changes; it’s not the same robust nosegay that provoked tears of joy from my wifey that fine day. Instead, it bears the effects of disconnection. Jesus warns against choosing to live a life that is separated from Him:
“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6, KJV)
Since Jesus is our life source, one of the consequences of being disconnected from Him is spiritual withering. On multiple occasions in scripture, children of God are compared to trees. Trees must have certain necessities like water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide in order to survive. When it comes to our spiritual health we are no different. We are people of power because we are people of prayer. Apart from Him, we can do nothing…we simply cannot function. Jesus gives us the formula for abiding in Him in John 15:10
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kepy my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (KJV)
A Slow Death
The process of withering is deceptive. When I brought the bouquet of flowers home for my wife, they were vibrant, fragrant, and bursting with color. As time passed, the reality of the bouquet’s plight became apparent. Weeks later as I passed by the bouquet, I noticed that all of the petals were falling off onto the table, and the leaves were now dry and lifeless. The effects of withering are never immediate, and herein lies the great deception. There is a dichotomy, here, that I would like to explore. Although we are drawn to the sheer aestetic beauty of the flowers that we see on display, they have already begun to die a slow death. If we don’t remain vigilant in prayer, we become suseptible to the following deception:
Since everything around me looks pretty, that must mean there is still life flowing within me.
We start trying to manipulate the outward appearance in an effort to maintain the pretty colors of our ministries, marriages, and reputations; because these are the things that people can see. Many times we are shocked when the spiritual leaders of our day tragically fall. It may seem like it happens all at once, but if we were to pull back the covers of their private prayer lives, we may be surprised to find that the withering process began long before the actual fall took place. There is a sobering quote by J. C. Ryle that sums it up nicely:
“Backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.”
Lack of prayer and Bible study cuts us off from our source, the True Vine, thus initiating the death process. Although the process may be slow, it is sure, and in time the signs of our disconnection will begin to show.
Things are not always what they seem, and if we’re not careful, our lives will wither due to disconnection from God. The petals may be full of color, and the stems may appear to be strong and vigorous for now, but eventually the flowers die; the life sap that is only supplied by the vine is no longer accessible. Jesus stated:
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5, KJV)
Residual vs. Actual
One day I asked my wife why did she like to keep flowers around for so long. Even after they were completely lifeless and shrivelled up, she found pleasure in them somehow. She told me that it wasn’t the flowers themselves that she only loved, rather it was the memory she had of the day I brought them to her. This made me think about something pretty interesting. Many times, we are so in love with the residual memory of what once was, we don’t pay attention to the reality of what actually is. There may have been a time when you were on fire for God; you prayed and read the Bible everyday. Now, you may not pray at all, and the Bible is just a nice book of stories that has found a cozy place on your bedroom end table. In spite of this, there is a part of you that may still feel as if you’re “on fire” for God. You see yourself in the light of what used to be instead of what actually is. Don’t be deceived by the residual image of your former prayer life. Ignite the flames again and reconnect with the Father now.
When was the last time you and the Father had quality time together?
Are you producing the robust fruit of the Spirit that only comes from a vital connection to God according to Galatians chapter 5?
Only you can answer yes or no to these questions honestly, and I encourage you to do so.
Private prayer and Bible study ensures that we stay connected with our life-source who is Jesus Christ. We must be cognizant of the importance of connecting with Christ daily by reading the Word and private prayer. The fact is, we are all like sheep prone to straying away from our sheepfold if we don’t guard our hearts as we traverse through this life.
Here at Wisdom’s Quill, there is never any condemnation or judgement concerning your walk with God. I am always committed to fostering change, and presenting perspectives that may not have previously entertained. It’s never too late to reconnect with the Father. I admonish you to talk to Him now. He’s always waiting to hear from us, even if it has been awhile, God promised to never turn any of His children away when we approach Him. Boldly go to the Father to obtain the grace that He promised.
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37, KJV)
As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill. See you soon.
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Editor: Jaime Evans