Heavy Branches

It’s Tuesday, and I don’t have class so you think that I would be enjoying my time here at this coffee shop. However, I am sitting here at this coffee shop trying to watch a documentary in Spanish about how many Cubans fled from the island in order to escape refuge in the United States. Sounds interesting right? It truly is, but when your heart and mind are in two different places you sort of feel like well bluh.

Ten days after I arrived back from Chile, I started my senior year in college. Fifteen credits, nine credits of Spanish, and six credits of classes in English. The languages alternate throughout my long days of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so by the weekend I am very exhausted. Coming back from Chile where I was pushed to the limits in all areas of my life, and now being back here in Gainesville where I am challenged constantly by school, life has been a little hectic lately. I have a duty to finish school, but my heart is with people. School has become more of a checklist item for me. I go to class, but my heart isn’t in class. I sit there thinking and looking on the faces of my classmates. If you have ever walked on a college campus, it’s almost like stepping into a room filled with broken people. You can see the words plastered on people’s foreheads, “lonely,” “shattered,” “broken,” “unloved,” and “searching.” There are so many of these words painted on people’s foreheads for us to see. But what do we as Christians do, we stay engaged with our campus ministry. We seek comfort and safety among the safe, among the people who might not ask us bend over backwards in order to show them the love of Christ because they already know it exists.

I heard this phrase the other day at church when our guest speaker was talking about fear. This man and his wife reach out to Muslims in a predominantly Muslim middle east, his church was bombed after 9/11 leaving members of his congregation dismantled on the ceiling with blood stains covering their tattered pews. I don’t know about you but the most discrimination I’ve experience as a Christian comes every now and then when I ask people and if they go to church and say, “I don’t like church.” Hmm I wonder why people don’t like church. If we as Christians are supposed to be the most loving and our God is so loving why don’t people like us? I really don’t know the answer…but I think it’s time for us to stop this. Stop the non-loving, stop the ridicule, and see people. Something I learned when I was in Chile was just how much Jesus looked at people. He didn’t just glance at them, He looked into their eyes and felt their pain. I myself am so guilty of this. It is so much easier for me to look past someone that is hurting rather to engage and fight alongside of them. Jesus didn’t abandon me in my brokenness and weakness. He picked me up crowned me with a jeweled crown and brought me to redemption. We are all in need of redemption. The missionary said this, and it really stuck out to me: “we as Christians should be spending more time with non-Christians rather than Christians.” Yes our Christian community is great, I live with four awesome girls who love Jesus, my boyfriend loves Jesus, I have Bible study with believers…but I can’t stay there. I can’t stay safe. We’ve taken that bad company corrupts good character verse (1 Corinthians 15:33) and we have isolated ourselves in bubbles to which we grow our tree of Christianity really tall. It produces leaves, it produces fruit, but we never allow the fruit to fall and be eaten by others. We are learning all this great knowledge of redemption, grace, and truth, but what are we doing with it. Chewing on it during our devotional time and leaving it at that?

Devotions are great, and I love my time with the Lord. I genuinely wish and challenge myself to have more. However, I don’t believe God has called us to keep our devotion and that fruit inside of us. He has called us to extend a hand, give the fruit to someone else and allow the juices to stream down the face of someone who says, “I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” Our branches our heavy with fruit, it’s time to let it fall. I just see this image of us as Christians with our branches heavy, we have fruit, and it’s people who are hungry are right below us looking for something to eat and that something to eat that is going to satisfy for eternity. People hungry for love, affection, grace, redemption, healing, and truth. We have that all harvested in our fruit, if we are allowing God to be our vine. We can bear much fruit. Therefore, let it fall. Tell people of the good news of the grace of God. And the great news is once that fruit is given away, it leaves room for more fruit to grow. Don’t let your fruit shrivel up just because you want people to see your successful spiritual growth. How much knowledge of the gospel you have acquired, give it away! Let others taste and see the Lord is good!

I am writing this because my heart has been heavy laden this semester as I see people walking on campus hurting. I think to myself I’m just like them broken and tattered, but the great news is Jesus is mending me and He is near to all the broken hearted, ALL.

I want my branches to bear much fruit, and my father vine to be my everlasting Father, Jesus Christ. I want him to be pruning, harvesting, and growing much within me. This is my prayer, my hearts cry, and what I pray us as believers are moving into. Let’s be trees rooted in the word of God, who are not only producing fruit, but allowing God to use our fruit to bless someone else. Step away from fear, walk forth, and make disciples, the call of every Christian. Love God and Love People.

Love and Prayers,

Hannah

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