by Mary Somerville
In order to be able to bear the emotional and spiritual burdens that come to us as pastors' wives, we must know God in order to trust Him like Job did. The only way to know God is through His Son Jesus Christ. If we truly get a glimpse of Jesus, we will be compelled to prize Him and delight in Him above all else.
Just before Jesus went to the cross, His parting words were directed to the disciples who were facing the devastation of His coming death. He gave them the beautiful picture of Himself as the vine and His disciples as the branches (John 15:1-17). There could be no closer relationship than that. The branch gets its life and nourishment from the vine—all it needs to grow and be fruitful. Jesus told His disciples they were to abide in Him as the branch abides in the vine. It pictures the dependency and constant communion between Christ and us and emphasizes that it is He that is producing the fruit in our lives through that living connection.
Fruit-bearing is important. Jesus says, "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He (the Father) takes away" (John 15:2). If we have that intimate connection to Jesus, we will see visible fruit—the fruit of the Spirit growing in our own experience and other people coming to Jesus and their lives being built up and changed as we work with them. But if our lives are barren of fruit we will be taken away—judged.
The heavenly Gardener gets rid of dead wood so the living branches can be shown to be truly His. He prunes or trims every branch so that it bears more fruit. No fruit-bearing branch is exempt. This can be a painful process, but it is a loving purpose for which He prunes us—so that each branch will be even more fruitful. We are impelled from this teaching of Jesus to examine our lives for fruit bearing.
Are we seeing fruit? Keep in mind that fruit will often be produced when there are trials. Those trials we may be experiencing in our ministry are producing fruit for His glory for which He will reward us. Isn't it amazing that He is the One who produces the fruit and then rewards us for it! He wants us to do even greater things than Jesus did when He was on earth and this brings glory to Himself (John 14:12-14, 15:7,16, 16:23-24,26).
How wonderful to realize that we do not have to produce fruit out of our own reserves! He is living His life in and through us. Apart from Him we can do nothing—not some things, but nothing! But through Him we can do all things (Phil. 4:13). He is our source of life, joy, and comfort. As one with Christ, we as His disciples can fulfill His commission to go and make disciples of every nation and teach them all that He has commanded.
Abiding in the vine is the same as being filled with the Spirit, as we are admonished in Ephesians 5:18. If I am living in obedience to His Word by living a life of purity, confessing all known sin, and depending upon His power to produce the fruit in my life, I am being filled with the Spirit.
Jesus Christ is in us in the person of the Holy Spirit—but do we bring Him into everything we do? Do thoughts of Him dominate our life? Are our waking thoughts of Him, as well as our last thoughts before we go to sleep? Why do we constantly and consistently let our minds dwell on lesser things if there is nothing else to compare with knowing Him and dwelling on His beauty?
As we set Him always before us, we will be able to do all that we do as an act of worship. We will be bursting forth with a heart full of praise as we constantly think about His great grace and love. It is living in the conscious presence of the Lord Jesus that gives us joy in our journey.
In order to sustain the constant weight of ministry and to grow in the fruit of the Spirit we must have this vital connection to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to sustain this kind of life.