In Tune with Each Other

by Afton Rorvik

Some days my head spins with details on my to-do lists and my heart feels as if it could literally crack under the weight of concerns for people I love.

On these days I crawl into my favorite chair and talk to God about it all and beg Him for perspective and strength. If only I could stay in this chair all day, wrapping God’s love around me like a warm blanket. But life calls: responsibilities, decisions, opportunities, people.

And, truthfully, it is the people part of life that so often disrupts my sense of peace and sends me back to my chair. Because I care about people, I hear and see their pain. I want to listen. I want to help.

Most days.

Other days I just want to block it all out—no emails, no texts, no phone calls, no conversations. Just Jesus and me. Peace! Quiet! Solitude!

Life with people is messy. And joy-filled. Challenging. And life-giving.

The other day, while sitting in my perspective-setting chair, I read this in Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing.” (MSG)

I have read this verse many times in the NIV but reading it in a different version brought a new perspective. I saw, as I had never seen before, the connection between the peace of Christ and the ability to keep in tune with each other.

So many times I have hugged the peace of Christ to myself in order to feel better. I have NOT regarded the peace of Christ as something that helps me reach out, something to help me live life with people. And, when faced with a challenging situation, I have thought to myself over and over, I can do this. I will just roll up my sleeves and do this.

This verse reminds me that the peace of Christ should become my fuel for reaching toward people and working to develop relationships with them, something that resembles a complicated, beautiful song. It also reminds me that a song sounds richer and stronger with multiple voices. Living for Jesus is not a solo act.

Just like any driver of a traditional car, I must refuel frequently—fill up my tank with the peace of Christ. I can do that in my chair, yes. But then I must push myself to stand up and leave that chair and go connect with messy, encouraging, hurting, thoughtful people.

Many congregations as part of their weekly service encourage members to turn to someone around them and extend a handshake and a greeting: “The peace of Christ be with you.” Congregants often respond: “And also with you.”

What a beautiful sound as a building buzzes with the words, “The peace of Christ.” And what a clear, visual reminder that the peace of Christ is meant to be shared, not hugged to ourselves in a comfortable chair in a serene living room.

Life with people. Life fueled by the peace of Christ.

“. . .so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18 NASB

afton rorvik2About the author: Afton Rorvik loves shaping words, reading books, listening to music, drinking coffee with friends, traveling, and savoring the words in her favorite book—the Bible. In 2014 Afton published Storm Sisters (Worthy), a story-filled book about learning to stick around when storms hit a friend’s life. You can connect with Afton on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Join the conversation: How has God’s peace affected your relationships?

 

 

Key Word: Abide

by Afton Rorvik

Several years ago, we tore out the evergreens in front of our house and planted perennial plants and grasses. That means that every winter when they die, the front yard looks barren. By the time May rolls around, we eagerly long to see color and life in our front yard again.

One recent May morning my husband glanced at our front yard plants just poking their beginning sprouts out of the ground and said to them facetiously, “Come on! When are you going to have some color? Get with the program!”

As I’m sure you know, talking to plants did not make them grow faster! They needed time and rain and sun. But by June, we did have color.

We cannot force growth in the natural world, although we sometimes try with various products that promise amazing growth. We can’t force growth in the spiritual world, either, although we do sometimes try the “quick-and-easy” in effort to make ourselves an abundant, fruit-producing person by next Sunday.

But Jesus’ perspective on growing fruit is very different.

“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 15:5-8, NIV).

Remain. Some translations use the word abide. The Message says, “make your home in me.” Doesn’t sound like a lot of “doing” after all, does it? Not exactly “getting with the program and getting it done.” It is rather a long-time endeavor, characterized by rest, of staying connected to the Vine.

I recently read a story about John Stott, the former rector of All’s Souls church in London, that so clearly illustrates this idea of remaining and then letting the Holy Spirit do the fruit- producing.

Rev. Stott dearly loved the words of Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT):

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

In fact, he prayed these words back to God every morning:

“Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

In the introduction to his book, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Christopher J.H. Wright (p. 13) comments, “It hardly seems surprising, then, that many people who knew John Stott personally said that he was the most Christlike person they ever met. For God answered his daily prayer by making the fruit of the Spirit ripen in his life.”

Oh, may we learn to remain and let God grow His fruit within us.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NASB

afton rorvik.jpgAbout the author: Part of the publishing industry since 1987, Afton Rorvik enjoys her roles as wife, mother, friend, editor, and writer. She loves shaping words, reading books by contemplative authors, listening to music, drinking coffee with friends, traveling, and savoring the words in her favorite book—the Bible. In 2014 Afton published Storm Sisters, a story-filled book on how to be present when storms hit a friend’s life. You can learn more about Afton and her ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Afton’s book, Storm Sisters, Friends Through All Seasons,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are ways you have found helpful in staying connected to the Vine?

Beyond My Control

by Afton Rorvik

I like order. I like lists. I like knowing what tomorrow holds.

Many years ago when the company I worked for merged with another company, I flailed. My position was being threatened by the powers that be. I knew this job, these people. I worked minutes from my house. There was a lot to lose. But more than anything, I hated sitting and waiting for someone else to make decisions about my life.

During that time, I discovered an Old Testament passage that has since become my go-to story when life throws me a challenge beyond my control. This account, found in 2 Chronicles 20, features Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. He received news that a huge army was about to attack his kingdom. When Jehoshaphat heard the news, he was alarmed. Who doesn’t feel alarmed when unexpected situations come flying at you?

Jehoshaphat, however, did not wallow in panic or fear. And he did not start drawing up a battle plan or gathering troops. Instead, he gathered the people together to fast and pray. His subjects came from all over Judah to jointly pray and seek the Lord’s help.

Jehoshaphat stood among them and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”  (2 Chronicles 20: 6, NIV) He went on to recite all of the ways God had proved Himself faithful in the past to His people. He ended the prayer by pleading, “For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV, emphasis added)

God responded to their cry. He spoke through a prophet right then and there, and gave reassurance to the people. The prophet told them “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but Gods’.” (2 Chronicles 20:15 NASB)

Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord as well.

So . . . a vast army lurked. And Jehoshaphat did something seemingly illogical and impractical. He worshiped.

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t fight life-threatening battles with worship. My knee-jerk response to the unexpected usually involves crawling into myself and focusing on private prayer that goes along the lines of “God, please fix this!”

I need to follow the example of Jehoshaphat in spending time reminding myself of God’s steadfast, powerful, and never-changing character as well as remember the weakness and ineffectiveness of any human effort. And be drawn not into despair but rather into worship.

Worship might take the form of fasting or congregational singing; or it might look like a woman sitting alone in a comfortable living room chair thanking God every morning that He sees, He cares, and He is at work in situations far beyond my control.

I did eventually lose that fabulous job and went on to face a lot of other life challenges. And I’m sure I have many more such challenges ahead of me.

And that is why I return again and again to the story of Jehoshaphat. It pulls me back to worship and helps me make Jehoshaphat’s words my own: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20: 12 NIV)

afton rorvik.jpgAbout the author: Part of the publishing industry since 1987, Afton Rorvik enjoys her roles as wife, mother, friend, editor, and writer. She loves shaping words, reading books by contemplative authors, listening to music, drinking coffee with friends, traveling, and savoring the words in her favorite book—the Bible. In 2014 Afton published Storm Sisters, a story-filled book on how to be present when storms hit a friend’s life. You can learn more about Afton and her ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Afton’s book, Storm Sisters, Friends Through All Seasons,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What unexpected situation have you faced that might have been helped by Jehoshaphat’s story?