My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Harmful day dreaming

I am sitting on the front porch, the sun is shining, it is spring. The air is sweet with the fragrance of honeysuckle and roses. The rocking chair slightly creaks. But not loud enough to wake my four week old baby daughter, the newest addition to our family. On the lawn three tousle-haired boys play noisely, jumping around and enjoying themselves. Once in a while one of them comes up to hug me and carefully kiss his little sister. Dinner is in the oven and just now my beloved enters through the garden door, swings the youngest boy up on his shoulder and walks towards me smiling ...

This is my dream. My beloved and I, a happy family with several children. I am at home to care for them. Reality is different. My beloved is there, of couse, and makes life so much fun and special. And I do enjoy my legal work, although I do not look forward to the bar exam because of all the work it will be until next June...

And here I go again, likening my life to the life I dream of. Day dreams and plans for the future are a normal part of our lives. They are not bad in themselves. But when they start making me discontent with the life I have or keep my from concentrating on the tasks at hand, then they are harmful. It is much easier to dream of days to come instead of diligently working on the next file or studying criminal procedures. But this is not how I should live my life. God put me into the here-and-now. Here I have a purpose and now there are things to be done – by me and in the position in life I have now. Here are other people to take care of – to listen to – to lend a helping hand – or to just be a friend. Now God wants to teach me, lessons that will help me later in life. It would be such a mistake to miss these lessons and these opportunities because of a dream.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Branches of the vine

Yesterday I taught children’s church again (we are on a rotating schedule). When I wanted to prepare the lesson, I realized that we had changed the schedule and I had the wrong book. I just knew that I had to teach on John 15:1-7. So I prepared the lesson myself. What might at first have looked to me like some extra-work, turned out to be a blessing. Normally every activity we do during the lesson is already laid out in the curriculum we use. Actually that makes it easy – but it also means that I don’t have to prepare in depths if I am too lazy or just too busy (?). I just have to get the crafts material.
I love preparing lessons myself, but most of the times I take the easy way and just go with the curriculum’s suggestions – which are good. But preparing the lesson myself is first beneficial for me – I really think about what I want to teach my little class – and second for the children. My heart is then more in the lesson than otherwise I think.

Yesterday’s lesson was on the vine and the branches. God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches of the vine – destined to bring fruit. Such a familiar truth – and so good to ponder again! A gardener who owns an orchard wants his fruit trees to bring fruit. I asked the children in my class what a fruit farmer would do with a tree that did not bring fruit. Of course we had several suggestions – build a tree house, enjoy its beauty... – but they all saw the obvious: cut it down and use it for firewood. This is exactly what Jesus told the disciples: every branch that does not bear fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire. Beware!

We are expected to be fruitful – to bear fruit, godly fruit. With God’s help, for we cannot do it on our on. I should constantly check my life in God’s light to see if I bear fruit. Many different kinds of fruit there are: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control, prayer, reading God’s word, obedience, diligence, perseverance, love for work (be it at home or in a paid job), ...
Isn’t it wonderful that God is a loving gardener who helps us to grow and bear fruit? If we bear fruit, he will prune us – which does not necessarily sound easy on us – so that we can bear more fruit. If – and only if – we are connected to Jesus, the vine.