Updated on August 24, 2016
When I want to be anywhere but here
Anywhere but here.
That’s what I said to myself all last week.
After a wonderful vacation, going back to work was assaulting. I was exhausted after arriving home a day later than expected, a cancelled flight robbing me of the one buffer day I had planned before getting back to the grind. Things had piled up that I needed to take care of quickly. People had been waiting for my return to unload their concerns and complaints. It was difficult, to say the least.
Anywhere but here, I kept saying to myself.
The fruit of the Spirit is Self Control, Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians. When I think of self-control, I mostly think of refusing to eat that donut in the kitchen at work, or saying “No” to something that is not good for me so that I can say “Yes” to something better.
But last week, self-control meant self-talk for me. As my emotions reeled from lack of sleep and the demands of work, I desperately wanted to uproot myself from my current situation and run away. I wanted to be anywhere but here.
“Every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more… In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” John 15: 2-4 MSG
Every time my emotions screamed at me that I needed to be anywhere but here, my soul whispered stay put, abide in him. It took nearly a week, but the screaming subsided and the whisper drowned it out. I was being pruned by The Gardener of my soul, and just as he has reminded me time after time, he reminded me again that the fruit of his Spirit in me can only grow from well-tended vines, pruned of the dead branches that steal the life source.
For me, this is a season of faithful waiting. My feet that want to take me to greener grass and fruitless vines, need to be firmly planted in the rich soil of the responsibilities I have now. It’s a hard road I’m on, and it’s lined with obstacles that seem insurmountable at times. Still, I know that this is where I am supposed to be, putting one foot in front of the other, faithful to the work that has been placed in my hands. Telling anywhere but here, “No!”
I see the hard road, the one that is less traveled, and I wonder why I have to be the one to take it. I see the roads others are traveling and dream about how much easier it must be. If I just could hop on over there where the grass looks green, things would be so much easier. The truth is, if I asked you about the road you’re on, you might tell me that your road looks barren and mine looks pretty green.
Anywhere but here, you might be saying.
Daily, he reminds me that he is always with me, and that he’s for me. He doesn’t ask me to pretend it isn’t hard or long or arduous or filled with exhaustion and difficulty. He reminds me to speak the truth of that hardness about my current state, and somehow, in the acknowledgement of the hardness of it all, I find peace that surpasses what I can understand. That peace makes a way for me to plant my feet on the path again and keep on journeying despite my questions about where I’m going.
Maybe you, like me, feel that the hard way you’re traveling is just too much. Remember that you do not have to hide your fears, your tears, your frustration, your exhaustion, or your disappointment. Jesus sees it already and longs to hold you up when you can’t do it yourself. He is at work, tending the vines of your life, pruning and shaping, cutting off all the dead branches that keep you from bearing a bounty of good fruit.
It’s sometimes painful, but always worth the waiting. Trust him. Abide in him. Stay.