Monday, April 28, 2014

How To Live a Worry-Free Life

“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.” (John 15:4-8 NIV)

It is the time of year when students are worried about a lot of things: projects, final exams, and, for some, what comes next after they graduate.  Stress levels are always higher at this point in the year.  

One thing I encourage students to do is to be different from their classmates, to trust the Lord and not freak out as the final weeks of the school year wind down.  We are told by Jesus not to worry (Matthew 6:25-27).  Peter says the same thing (I Peter 5:7).  And the fruit of the Spirit contains peace and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Yet, they (and I) often have such a hard time putting this into practice.  

So what’s the problem?  Why does worry and stress so easily creep into our lives, crowding out the peace the Lord has for us to enjoy even in the midst of living in a trouble, stress-filled world?  Why do we struggle to control our anxiety even when we know we should?  I think Jesus gives us the answer.

He uses the phrase “remain in me” five times in five verses.  He refers to Himself as the “vine” and to us as the “branches,” saying we are totally dependent on Him.  Might it be our struggles with worry and stress are due to our independence?  We may realize we are not to worry and are called to a peace-filled life, but do we do what is necessary to achieve it? I think it is likely we do not.  Rather, we try to handle life on our own, bearing our many burdens on our own shoulders in our own strength. Instead of being attached to the Vine, we hover nearby; just close enough to convince ourselves we are in Him, but too far to produce the abundance of fruit the Lord promises.

“Remain in me” implies a way of life.  The more we surrender our independence to Him, trusting and living in submission to the Lord, the more peace will become an evident fruit in our lives regardless of our circumstances.  

Today, if you want to worry less and decrease the amount of stress in your life, then attach yourself to the Lord.  Draw from Him the peace and self-control that He naturally produces.  Otherwise, it will never happen, because apart from Him it is impossible to achieve.

© Jim Musser 2014

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