Two days before the talk, I lost my voice completely. After using all my doctor tricks to heal my vocal cords, I woke up around four in the morning on the day of the talk ... still voiceless. I tested my voice and out came a shriek. So I said to God, "Well, that won't do, will it? How will I share about You with no voice, Lord?"
God replied, "Rest. You will have your voice by then."
So I went back to bed in peace. As the hours passed, my voice slowly strengthened, and I had just enough sound by noon. I gave the talk as planned, and we had a beautiful time together in spite of my husky voice.
Two more things happened that were significant. A flood on the hospital floor where the talk was scheduled forced a sudden location change. So the organizer and others scrambled to find a new location, reorder lunch, and inform the participants by phone of the last-minute change. I was ready for a very small crowd.
It turns out that, as in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit was hovering over those waters, and He was about to do a new thing in me and among us.
I was forced into a two-day silent retreat right before my talk, which deepened the message and moved it in a new direction. For God uses all things for His purposes, and what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good.
So during my two days of silence, feeling like Zechariah (John the baptist's dad), I was led to God's Word. I delved into John 15, where Jesus reminds us of the absolute need for us to abide in Him continually, not just every so often.
As I meditated on this chapter, I remembered something I'd noticed years ago. The word remain appears eleven times in the first eleven verses. Hear the words of Jesus,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now 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."
Let us remain in the Vine, for that is how we can be fruitful, spreading the goodness, love, and hope that will bless a hurting world. As we remain in His love and show it through our obedience, we can expect to see and experience the living waters of His Spirit. And there is nothing better and more needed than that.
Photo by Manuel Díaz Photography. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.