By Lynn Corker

What’s on your nightstand? I have a tablet, a glass of water, some hand lotion, a lamp, and my phone. I also have books, a whole stack of them that I pick up from time to time. Shamefully, but honestly, one of those books that patiently awaits my attention is my Bible.

There are times when it has been several days since I have spent time in the Word and I hear the Holy Spirit call out to me, “You really should be spending more time with Me … you know it brings you peace, plus I love it when you talk to me”, and yet, I excuse it away.

I ignore that voice for various reasons, like “I’m too tired,” or “I’ll do it later” or “Well, I just read it yesterday”. Have you ever felt that way? Like you “should” be doing something that you’re not?

I can think of several times I should have been doing something but haven’t. One such moment came in January 2011. Funny enough, I was in Bible study at St. Luke of all places and I felt the Lord calling me to a ministry in Africa. Now, I love to travel, but I had no desire (at the time) to go to Africa, so I flat out told God “No.”

I laugh at myself thinking back on it … who tells God no?! I should have listened but I didn’t want to hear what He was saying. It was during a time in my life where I was seeking purpose and asking God how I could serve him; He answered my prayer and the first thing I do is rejected His response!

The beautiful thing about my defiance is that it didn’t deter God from gently and patiently waiting for my surrender; kind of similar to that voice I hear when I look at my Bible on the nightstand.

To keep this story short, in January 2012 I took my first trip to Africa. Yes, God’s will prevails even if my own will fights Him kicking and screaming. God has moved me to fall in love with a people that desperately want to know Jesus.

I get to do ministry with people who ask for Bibles so they can study the Word, not leave them to collect dust on their nightstand table. They ask to be taught how to memorize Scripture because some of them can’t read.

They know what Jesus has done and they hunger for more … they don’t ignore it, they pursue it. I can learn a lot from them. I could also feel very guilty about how much I take for granted that I can read Scripture anytime I want.

So my question becomes, not what I should be doing, but why am I not doing it? I think John 15:5-11 explains it well:

5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ”

Seven times. Seven times that word “remain” shows up in this Scripture. It’s hard to ignore. What I have learned is remain means don’t disconnect. Why am I choosing to disconnect? He’s the one who holds me together and brings me complete joy.

It’s not about what I should do, or the guilt I carry for not doing it, it’s really about Jesus wanting me connected to Himself at all times. It’s about allowing God to produce fruit in me and when I disconnect that purpose is easily lost.

I’d love to tell you that since learning this lesson I’m great at opening Scripture daily, that I spend time everyday pouring into my walk with the Lord, but I don’t.

I’m still very much a sinner in need of grace, especially on the days when I push His love and comfort away. Despite me, He has not stopped using me to accomplish His will.

On Sunday, May 17th, Women of the Pearl (a ministry to women in Uganda) will have the opportunity to share stories from our most recent trip during the education hour. Janette Haak and Amy Pemberton will grace you with how the Lord worked in and through them to further Christ’s Kingdom. Join us as we explore some of the joys of remaining in the Lord, clinging to the Living Hope who uses us despite our own fears, failures and faults.