“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.” – John 15:5
I used to misread that statement as, “It’s probably a good idea to remain in me because if you don’t, you won’t accomplish anything that’s eternally meaningful.” Now I read it exactly for what it says, that apart from Jesus, I – CAN – DO – NOTHING!
The truth of this statement has been driven hard into me for the last few years. All of my life, I was a person who found easy success. It started before I even entered kindergarten. My mother stayed home with us and used to read to me a lot. She said I would sit in her lap for hours and hours, never tiring of having her read to me. After a while, I could read along with her in the books. She chalked that up to memorization until one day I started reading billboards and other signs as we went down the road. I had learned how to read without anyone even trying to teach me.
This continued on throughout everything I did academically and professionally. If I tried at all, I found that succeeding was quick, easy, and painless. I was even good at football, playing guitar, and most other things I ever tried to do.
I honestly don’t know why I was always afforded such quick success with such minimal effort in my life.
But it has served to make the last few years extremely painful for me. God has shown me that I am weak and helpless and clueless and powerless.
It started when I desperately wanted to stop being addicted to alcohol and drugs. I struggled mightily to end my own addiction through human knowledge and effort. The failure involved in that is hard to describe. Your life is riding on something as simple as not swallowing a pill or opening a bottle and you continue to give into it, despite your best efforts to fight it. You hurt the people you love over and over in order to do something that seems so stupid and trivial… and like it should be easy to overcome. You keep getting your confidence back up and feeling like you can beat it this time, only to be drowning in it moments later… and I never did beat it. The victory didn’t come from anything I did. Freedom simply did not happen until Jesus Christ decided to perform a miracle inside of me. Other people may get good results from all kinds of things, but a true follower of Christ needs to seriously consider what Jesus is saying in John 15:5.
I wanted to show my wife that I was different, and that we could have a great life together. I wanted to convince her that she should forgive me one last time. I desperately wanted to save my own marriage and keep my family intact. I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried. I had no power whatsoever to accomplish that. But Jesus did show me how quick and easy it was for him to change her heart, after I had finally given up.
I wanted desperately to get a job. I felt strongly that if I looked hard enough, talked to enough people, and said all the right things, that I could convince someone to give me an opportunity. I had no power whatsoever to accomplish that. I experienced repeated failure and rejection.
I have tried and tried to help a family member buy investment properties. I have access to a lot of money through them, so I can’t blame my failure in this area on lack of money. I am doing my due diligence. I am making offers. I have not been able to buy a single property. It's downright strange some of the ways in which I've been blocked from being able to make this happen. It's very clear that I have no power whatsoever to accomplish what I am trying to accomplish.
I want to create a great investing website. I want people to come to it from all over the world. I want people to interact with each other, creating a community of investors who are trying to do the right things the right way, sharpening each other as they go. I want them to pursue positive change in the U.S. business world through activism. I want them to enjoy my investment lessons, articles, and reports. I want them to learn from my site and to become better investors. I want them to see that I am one of the relatively few people out there giving them sound, honest, well-informed investment education, and doing it all for free. I can and do work day and night on this website. I can get on all the social media in the world, sharing the best wisdom and knowledge I have to offer. I can reach out to every other person and website in the world. I can relentlessly pursue this dream.
But, I have no power to make anyone come to this site, or to care one iota about what I have to say. I’m offering them good instruction and information that is freely available. Does it matter? No, it does not, because I have no power.
I refuse to market my site to people using negative appeals to the emotions of fear and greed, or information that is misleading in any way. Even if I did that, they still wouldn't come. That’s because I have no power. I can accomplish nothing.
I also want readers to see me bearing witness to the power, the love, and the reality of Jesus Christ while they are here. I want them to read my testimony and other posts and be moved by something I wrote. I want people to come to know Christ through my sharing of the gospel. I have no power to make that happen.
I want to start another business or non-profit to help provide jobs for people who need a second chance in life. I want to use such a platform to help make disciples. I can think of all kinds of ways to make that happen. But I already know that I have no power to make any of it happen.
I am going to remain in Christ. Apart from him, I can do nothing. I really mean that. I mean it more than I’ve ever meant anything in my life. I have no power. My heart beats because it's God's will for that to happen. The goals and dreams and ambitions I am pursuing through all of the ability and hard work I can muster will be accomplished not because of my ability, hard work, or perseverance, but if and only if it is God’s will.
Here’s a wonderful truth that most everyone has already heard, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But I wonder if anyone can actually know the truth of Philippians 4:13, without first actually knowing the truth of John 15:5.
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