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Energy Flow - John 15

 


This week we continue our study of John with chapter 15.  This is still part of the Last Supper discourse.  Jesus washed the disciples feet.  He foretold his betrayal and death.  He gave them the great commandment to Love.  He explained that he and God the Parent were one.  He told them that he was going where they could not follow, but promised to send the Holy Spirit.  Now in this chapter he gives them a teaching on energy flow.  

Jesus explained using agricultural imagery.  He told them that he was the vine and they were the branches.  They would produce fruit, but only by being connected to the root.  He encouraged them to rest in this flow, to be patient and wait for the fruit that comes from being connected to the Christ.  Similarly he prepared them for how others would treat them.  Some would hate them, while others would love them, but not because of who they are, but who they are in, the vine they are connected to.  

I have often struggled with burnout because I have a tendency toward diving deep into whatever I am doing.  My self care habits are rubbish.  I forget to take care of myself.  I fail to take breaks, miss out on sleep, and sometimes I even forget to eat and drink.  This has become a common topic of discussion with my spiritual director.  They often ask me to look at my ministry and ask if I am working of my own energy, or being a conduit for the greater energy.  90% of the time I have to admit I am working out of my own energy pool.  The problem with that is: I have a finite energy pool, so burnout is inevitable when I do ministry in this way.   

The Taoist have an idea they call Wu Wei.  It translates roughly into the "action of non-doing".  This is not about being lazy, but more about not forcing.  Jesus was encouraging his disciples to practice Wu Wei.  When we look at the book of Acts or the stories of the disciples from early church history it is obvious they were not lazy or inactive, but they were not working from their own energy pool either.  They made sure they were connected to the source, and then they let Christ flow through them.  Christ is limitless energy, a source that flows eternally, living water.  

Remember just a couple chapters back Jesus told the crowd at the Festival of Booths: "Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart."  And a couple chapters before that he told the woman at the well: "but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Our striving and reaching to MAKE stuff happen will wear us out. Instead, we must strive to stay connected to the vine and let Christ shine through us. The author of Hebrews said it like this:

"Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest" - Hebrews 4:11a KJV

I have found in my life that the fruit of my labor is wilted and sour when its only source was my own life force, but when I stopped striving and I let it flow, not only did it not drain me, but the fruit was so much more alive and life giving.  Today I watch my energy flow closely, and when I notice that I am feeling drained, it is a warning that I need to stop forcing and instead labor to rest in the vine.  

God, help us to trust in your eternal source.  Help us to rest in you so that you might flow through us unimpeded by our endless reaching.  Amen. 

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