Strength to Hang On

Another ice storm came our way this week.  The pine trees and bushes were filled with ice. The branches of bare trees glimmered with ice hanging from its shoots.  Bent over, the branches looked like they were hanging on for “dear life”.  Literally, since many large branches had already snapped from trees and fallen to the ground. The weight of the ice was too much.

Many times in my life I seem to be hanging on “for dear life”.  Life can be full of difficulties, weights that seem to make us want to “snap”.  And not just in my own life.  Many people around us need the strength to bear the weights in their lives – deaths of family and friends, loss of jobs and homes, financial burdens and physical struggles due to illness or cancer.

In difficult times it is crucial to know that what you’re holding on to is strong, firm, will hold you and not let you go.  I can hold on to reputation, things, people, and wealth.  But these will not be the strength I need for the weights from the storms in life. In those times, there has been One who has the only strength to hold on to me while I also hold on to Him.

Jesus said “Abide in me…for apart from me you can do nothing.”  We cannot handle the storms without Him.  That is why He commanded us to abide.  Nothing is too difficult for Jesus.  Paul, who had suffered much said, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might.”  Ephesians 6:10. I can actually be content, resting in what I have and don’t have in the storms of life for as the writer of Hebrews said, “be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5.

Jesus will never leave me as I am holding on, abiding in Him and clinging to him for dear life. When I experience “storms”, losses and burdens in my life and need strength, He is there by my side.  I don’t have to snap!  I may be bent over but the sun will come out and I’ll bounce back.

I desire to abide with Jesus daily because I may not be able to predict the ice storms that will come in my life.  As I hold on to His strength, trusting in His words I can hold on to Him as He holds onto me. If you are holding on for dear life right now, are you holding on to the One who cares and has the strength to bear the weights in your life?  He won’t let you snap as you hold on.

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” Psalm 105:4

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me,and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”  Psalm 28:7

Fruitful Family Reflections

“We need to eat more fruits and vegetables” say the doctors and nutritionists.  So, I think about all the fruits in the fruit family that I should be eating.  You have pears, apples, grapes, and oranges, even unique fruits like kiwi, pomegranate and lingonberry.  When we lived in Asia, we ate lychees, cumquats and star fruit. They all belong to the family of fruits.  They look different, taste different, and even smell different.  They even come together for certain purposes like fruit baskets, fruit bouquets, and fruit salad.

The family of believers in Jesus is like the family of fruits. They are all unique – look different, are shaped different, come from different cultures and countries. Yet, together they are a beautiful reflection of the love that God has given to us through Jesus. Like a fruit bouquet shows off the individual fruits yet together they have a special beauty, together we have a special purpose as we show God’s love.

fruit market

Jesus told his followers “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35 NLT

There it is. What do we reflect as we come together and love each other in the family of Jesus?  The proof that we are followers of Jesus.

We read books about how we can be a better witness of Jesus in our lives.  We say the right religious words to prove that we are His. We even wear clothing and put symbols on our cars to tell others we belong to Jesus.  Yet, what is the real proof?  “Your love for one another”; that’s it.  Plain and simple.

When we love each other, it reflects Jesus’ love to the world. Joining together as a family of believers in love is the greatest witness of who we are. When we forgive other Christians, say kind words about them instead of slandering and gossiping, show grace instead of judgment, give to their needs emotionally or even financially – we are proving to be a follower of Jesus.

Am I proving to be a follower of Jesus in how I love my brothers and sisters in Christ?  What do others hear me say about them or see me do for them?  Am I being a fruitful witness to others that I am a Christian by reflecting God’s love to other Christians? How about your proof?

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”  John 15:9