Pastor Chad talked about how God often answers our requests and prayers in weird ways. Have you experienced that? Our family certainly has. Many, many times. When people find out we came to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from California, we get some very curious looks. To the question, “Why did you move here?” we can only answer, “God.” Without seeking and listening to where God wanted us, we never would have moved here. It wasn’t even on our radar. God has put us in many different places and has been faithful as we trust in Him to lead us. It hasn’t always been easy, but He has been with us through it all. It wasn’t always where we wanted to go, but He has shown Himself faithful time and time again.
Sometimes He puts us in situations we would rather not be in, but we have a choice to complain, run away, or grow. When we complain, we tend to shrivel and be malnourished in our walk with God. More often than not, that negatively affects the people around us as well. When we run away, we detach ourselves from the Vine and stop functioning the way He intended. When we decide to follow Him, we grow and bear fruit. The difficulties that may come only help us bear more fruit, and the fruit is better than ever.
I feel like I have said this many times, but I will say it many more: We must remember that even when we mess up, we can always go back. God will always be there waiting. God is the Master Gardener, and He, even more than the very best earthly gardeners, knows exactly how to graft us back into the Vine to get us growing even better than before. If you know anything about grafting branches onto trees, you know it is a painstaking process. You can’t just put the branch on any old way, and you can’t expect it to mesh together overnight. You have to cut into the existing tree or vine where you want to graft the branch,and place a “bandage” around the branch to get it to stay until it grows together with the tree. What an amazing picture that is of the kind of grafting God does with us. When we sin, it hurts Him, too. I’m pretty sure most of us don’t think of that. Grafting us back into His vine means He is wounded, so we can be returned to the vine to grow healthy again. (Isaiah 53:5) He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, so He holds us close as we remind ourselves daily that we should cling to Him.
If you have kids, think about how you feel when they get hurt, especially when it is something you knew they shouldn’t be doing. Whenever my husband or girls get hurt, I will help them clean and bandage the wound, but I sure don’t like it. I don’t mind blood or wounds on anyone else, but if my precious ones show me even a little cut, I get weird butterflies in my stomach. It’s a little bizarre, but I just don’t like seeing them in pain. How do you think God feels when we make messes of our lives? He only wants what is best for us and knows exactly how we can get there, but all too often we ignore what He tells us to do. While most of us don’t like being told what to do, why would we ignore the wisdom of an omnipotent, omniscient God? Sometimes it’s because we already have the answer we are looking for set in our minds. We think God wants us to do what we want to do. Before we considered moving here, we thought it was time to go back to Washington state. We thought that was the most logical and wonderful plan. God had other plans. Not plans just to make us happy, but plans that would help us grow and become more like Him. And also for the people we touch here. Our “feelings” don’t matter when we are seeking to show others the love of Christ. When God’s plans make us uncomfortable, it is usually because we are only thinking of ourselves. He wants us to put Him first and go where He leads. Will we follow?