Are You Withering on the Vine?

tree-of-life-jaison-cianelli large

“Are you suffering from spiritual depletion?” Rob Des Cotes asked participants at the Soul Care retreat we hosted at our church. To help us answer that question, Rob led us though this diagnostic list.

Are you experiencing any of the following?

__ Loss of peace (unable to relax or rest from busy thoughts)

__ Loss of receptiveness (unable to receive/enjoy people, nature, art, etc.)

__ Loss of self-control (no “off” switch, unable to step back and make healthy choices)

__ Less capacity for relating well with others and God (feel like the “tail wags the dog,” no distance between you and your fear)

__ Less capacity for restoration (like rechargeable batteries that have lost their capacity to recharge)

I checked off five out of five. My life was packed to the edges. I rushed through morning quiet times or skipped them. I ate lunch while I worked. In the evening, when I did have time to pray, I was exhausted, and acedia persuaded me to have a snack and watch my favourite TV show instead. I still had moments of connecting with God, but that wasn’t enough to fend off my growing dissipation.

“If you are answering ‘yes’ to most of these statements, you may be withering on the vine,” Rob told us. “Jesus said, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing.'”

When we get too busy to spend time with God, we are like a severed branch. No longer attached to the vine, it cannot obtain the water and nutrients it needs to survive. This old hymn captures the truth,

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Saviour,
I come to Thee.

I am thankful for Lent, this season of repentance and renewal. I am thankful for Rob and the gentle way he calls us back to rest in God. And I am thankful for Jesus who revives me and invites me to abide in him again.

 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. – John 15:9 (NRSV)

Questions for your Lenten pilgrimage:

  • Are you withering on the vine?
  • Where have you noticed God inviting you to rest in him? 
“Tree of Life” by Jaison Cianelli. Used with permission.
Rob Des Cotes is the director of Imago Dei Communities in Vancouver.
“I Need Thee Every Hour'” by Annie S. Hawkes and Robert Lowry, 1872.
Scripture references: John 15:5, 9
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2014
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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