Experience the Holy Spirit in Contemplation | 04

AUTHOR: Holy Scripture

READ:

Read or listen to John 15:1–17.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

“This is what I command you: Love one another.

What does Jesus’ metaphor communicate about our friendship with him?

The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.

FOCUS:

Read or listen to the blog. What is one thing you learned about what it means to lovingly gaze on Jesus? How can you incorporate what you learned into your daily routines? For example: I will meditate on Psalm 1 today during my run.

Contemplation and Intimacy: Learning to Belong to Jesus by Gazing on God

By Carolyn Poage

 

I just wanted a friend. That was my hope every time we moved. When the army moved us, which was every one to three years, we would make the trek to a new state. Finally pulling into a new neighborhood, I would watch out the van window hoping to see kids my age. Dreaming about making friends.

Being an army kid taught me how to make friends quickly. If you were only going to be there a short time, there was no time to lose! I usually did have good friends at each place we lived, but as I got older I found myself grieving not having a long term friend. Someone I could know longer than a couple of years: I wanted a best friend. Someone to belong to. Someone I knew I could always count on, share everything with, and trust no matter what. I didn’t know if the Lord would ever provide that for me.

The sweetest thing ended up happening. Through my years of hoping and praying for a best friend, the Lord began to show me that I did already have a forever friend. And his name is Jesus.

 

Gazing at God the Father

I was always comfortable with God the Father. Maybe because I had, and still have, a really good relationship with my dad. God the Father was a picture of comfort, wonder, and shelter for me. In high school I had mentors teach me how to read my Bible and I fell in love. Something was awakened in me, and I got to know God the Father personally through the words of his love letter.

It was easy to spend time in quiet spaces just thinking about Father God. I relished the moments of sitting in his presence and just being. Psalm 139 says For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.

I could just be me. And I found myself gazing at a loving God, who was gazing back at me. Loving me. Accepting me. No matter what my friendships looked like at the time, or how new I was somewhere, I was safe and belonged with my Father God.

 

Finding Friendship in Jesus

I began to really get to know Jesus Christ in college. I had known him for a long time, but not in a personal way. I knew the miracles he performed and that he was sent to die on the cross for me. But the type of closeness I felt with God the Father didn’t carry over to how I felt about his Son.

Eventually, as I continued learning God’s word, through meditation and stillness with the Father, and the teaching of pastors and mentors, I realized that my view of Jesus Christ had been wrong. He wasn’t somehow less personal than God the Father who knew me so well because he created me.

Jesus Christ knew me on a different level because he experienced life on earth. I’ve experienced physical pain and so did he. I’ve experienced temptation and so did he. I’ve experienced disappointment and hurt in relationships and so did he. He was sad when his friend died. He enjoyed the party after a wedding. He got hungry, thirsty, and tired. He experienced feeling lonely.

I realized that Jesus could relate to me in a different way and I to him. What a sweet new type of relationship and depth this began for me with Jesus!

 

Belonging to Jesus

Gazing at God the Father, finding comfort, safety, and belonging, led me to better knowing his Son, Jesus Christ, and the friendship he offers. He lived on earth in flesh like us. He knows what we’re going through and guides us in how to live. We are friends with him. We belong to him.

What does it mean to contemplate belonging to Jesus? In John 15, Jesus says he is the vine and we are the branches. That metaphor is deeper than I can understand since I am not a vineyard owner and I do not have a green thumb. But, I can close my eyes and picture a beautiful green vine. I can see the branches and its leaves and fruit blowing in the breeze, but they are secure because of being attached to the vine.

A branch cannot live without being connected to the vine. Once it is cut off, it is starting to die. I am that branch. I have to cling to Jesus, be attached to him, belong to him, if I am going to live.

 

Who am I to be friends with Jesus?

How can I have the audacity to say that I am friends with the Son of God? Thankfully, he said it first. A few verses further down in John 15, Jesus says that we are his friends. That we are no longer his servants, but his friends. Let’s contemplate that for a minute.

What does it mean to be friends with someone? We share about our lives. We give of ourselves. We ask questions and listen. We laugh and cry together. We celebrate and mourn together. We spend time together. Do we do that with Jesus?

There is an intimacy in friendship. Do you have that intimacy with Jesus? Are you open to him like you’re open to a friend? Picture what that could look like, to take a walk with Jesus around your favorite park. To sit on the couch together with cups of coffee and chatting. To feel his warm embrace when you’re sad. This is what he is … he is our friend.

I wanted a best friend. I have a forever friend in Jesus. I have a place I belong in his family, thanks be to God. God the Father knows me inside and out, and his Son, my friend, walks with me throughout my days. I belong to Jesus.

PRAY:

Lord Jesus, draw me to your and teach me how to walk intimately with you in times of joy and times of sorrow, times of dancing and times of lamenting, times of lack and times of plenty. In every season, your love is better than life.

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Week 4 of 5 Contemplation

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