Did you know that some snakes only need to eat once per year? Every time I enjoy yet another reptile show or encounter with my family, my husband always admires the creature’s ability to go without a meal for so long. “Imagine how much time you’d have to get stuff done!” he exclaims. “Do you have any idea how much money we’d save?”
It’s fun to fantasize about the convenience of setting aside one day per year to nourish your body, but the reality is that, without daily bread and water, your body will grow weak and tired, wither away, and die at the first symptom of the common cold.
Starving My Spirit
Yet, this is exactly what many of us do to our spirit. We nourish our spirit occasionally and then move on to focus on life’s demands. When difficulty strikes, our starved spirit is unable to meet the challenge and succumbs to depression, anxiety, and bitterness.
I recently experienced this after a weekend road trip with my family. I was out of my routine, and neglected to make time for Jesus. I didn’t have time to listen to a sermon in the morning. I couldn’t listen to praise and worship music in the car. I was too tired to read scripture before bed.
We came home, and got the house was back in order, but failed to do the same for my spirit. “It’s okay,” I reasoned “I spent so much time on that Bible Study last week. I’m fine.”
Little things started getting on my nerves. Over the next few days, I became increasingly irritable and difficult. Late in the week, my exasperated husband pleaded “Why are you so cranky this week?” That’s when I realized my soul was starving. I expected a large spiritual meal from two weeks ago to sustain me.
My Own Rotten Fruit
Sometimes I fall into the mistaken notion that I no longer need God’s Word for victory over my anxiety.
I’ve listened to enough sermons; I’m better now.
I learned so much from that Bible Study; I can do this on my own.
I’ve read all of those scriptures already; I don’t need to look at them again.
Just as your body can’t survive on an annual meal, neither can your spirit survive on an occasional serving of the Bread of Life. Bread is a regular, daily staple of our diet, and so it should be with God’s Word.
As I considered these things, I actually became frustrated by my dependence on Him. Why can’t I just get over this? Haven’t I been a Christian long enough that I should be able to do this on my own?
Remaining in the Vine
Jesus actually told us that we aren’t designed to do it on our own. His design is for us to cherish our dependence on Him. It is only in our dependence on Jesus that we can truly serve Him.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned (John 15:4-6).
I was struggling with the “remain” part of Jesus’ command. I thought “remain in me” just meant to call myself a Christian, to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. According to Strong’s Concordance, “remain” means so much more than maintaining my denominational status. The word “remain” in John 15:4 comes from the Greek word meaning: not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, dwell, endure, to remain as one, not to become another or different.
She thought “remain in me” just meant to call herself a Christian, to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
I’d departed during my family’s road trip. When I came home, I tried to become different from Jesus because I no longer wanted to take the time to be present with Him. Over the next few days, my spirit began to dry up and wither from hunger. Apart from the Vine, I was impatient, anxious, harsh, and restless.
Depend on Jesus
Jesus tells us that by remaining with Him, we will bear much fruit. It turns out He’s not talking about grapes. By being continually present with Him, our spirit will display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Suddenly my own independence isn’t so appealing.
My husband envies the snake’s efficient survival strategy, but I feel bad for them. Those reptiles sure are missing a lot.
How Do You Depend on Jesus?
What fruit do you notice when you neglect your spirit vs when you depend on Jesus? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
If you liked this blog post, keep your eyes open for our upcoming book, Candid Conversations, where Heather Hart, the founder of Candidly Christian, has partnered with 25 other Christian women. While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that we all struggle, but there is hope to be found in Jesus. Coming August 13th, 2018. Kindle edition now available for pre-order.