Discover more from Grounded in the Bible
Are You Watered or Withering?
Women's Event Recap
Last weekend, our church hosted a women’s event called Watered or Withering. It was a time for almost 100 ladies from multiple area churches to get together to worship God, connect with each other, and hear teaching from Scripture. Our speaker was Christi Shade, who has done a lot of teaching in the past through Bible Study Fellowship. For this week’s study, I want to give you some of the highlights of what I learned at this event from Christi’s teaching. I won’t recount every point and Scripture that Christi used, because that would take way too long, and I’m sure I couldn’t accurately share every single point she made. But these are the things that were most meaningful to me.
The theme of the day was Watered or Withering. God is the master gardener, and our lives are the garden he is tending. Do we have streams of living water in us, waters that come through the Holy Spirit and water our souls so that we can bear fruit? Or are we like a parched and dry land that is barren? One of her main Scripture verses was from Jeremiah 17:5-8, which paints a picture of this contrast:
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
This passage tells us that the source of our trust makes a huge difference. Do we trust in humans? Or do we trust in God? If we trust in human strength, either our own or someone else’s, we will be parched and dry. But if we trust in God, we will be strong and bear fruit.
One question Christi asked during our morning quiet time was:
“What might need to be cleaned out so that I can flow within?”
One of the verses she had us look at was John 15:4-5, where it talks about Jesus being the vine, God being the gardener, and us being the branches. In order to bear fruit, we must remain in the vine. But in light of the question she asked, the verse that struck me even more was John 15:2:
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
With that verse in mind, I changed the question to be:
“What needs to be pruned in my life so that I can bear more fruit?”
In the past, I’ve always thought of this as events and activities. What are the things on my task list that I need to get rid of or say “no” to so that I can focus more on the things God wants me to do? What can I do to not be so busy that I don’t have time for my relationship with Christ? But as I read through Christi’s guided quiet time, my heart gave me a different angle. It’s not about events and activities. It’s about attitudes and thoughts. What are the things in my life that keep me feeling withered rather than watered? Here’s a partial list of what I came up with:
Old lies (untruths about who I am as a person)
Self-induced perfectionism or pressure (expectations of myself that are too high)
Pleasing others instead of God
I’m sure you have more that you could add to the list for yourself. When I focus on these things, I’m focusing on myself or on others around me rather than on God. I’m overestimating my own ability to deal with whatever those things are in my life that cause stress and worry and burden, and I’m underestimating my need for God. But if we focus on Christ as our sole source of salvation and abundant life, then we allow him to prune these things that keep us withered so that we can grow in him to bear fruit. As we trust in God rather than the outcomes of our lives, we will start to live in perfect peace.
One way that we can identify the areas of our lives that might need to be pruned is to be in the Word. We looked at Psalm 1, especially verses 1-3:
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
We need reflection in the Word to see the truth about what is inside our hearts. If we spend time meditating on God’s Word day and night—if God’s Word becomes such a part of us that it is continually in our thoughts—then we will be like a tree planted by streams of water that continues to grow strong and healthy to produce fruit.
We often feel like we don’t have the time or desire to meditate on God’s Word faithfully and consistently. But our relationship with God is like any other relationship—it needs time and space. We need to spend time with God, and we need to make space in our lives to build that relationship. This is essential for a flourishing relationship. Maybe you even need to schedule an “appointment” every day to spend time with God. Block off time for just you and him to be together. This focused time with God will change everything.
Our morning session had so many good nuggets of truth, but the overarching theme was that true refreshment is only found in Jesus Christ. He must be our source of strength and truth, and we can find refreshment by spending time in his Word and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
In the afternoon session, we switched to a second truth: True refreshment is found in love, believer to believer. As believers, we can be a source of refreshment to other believers, and in turn, we can look to other believers to find refreshment when we feel like we are withering.
As believers, we are called to encourage each other and bear each other’s burdens. Here are just a couple example Scriptures we looked at:
Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Galatians 6:2: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Often, when we are withering, our first instinct is to withdraw. We don’t want to share our struggles with others, and God feels far away, so it’s easy to stay home from church or not reach out to other believers for encouragement.
But sometimes, that thing we most don’t want to do is exactly what we need to do.
Part of God’s design is that when we are feeling withered, we have other Christians there to encourage us and help water us back to health.
During this part of the session, we talked a lot about trust. In order for us to feel like we can talk to other believers to share our struggles and hurts, there must be a foundation of trust between us. We often feel a barrier because we don’t want to be vulnerable or rejected. We might feel shame or guilt or embarrassment, and we don’t want to open ourselves up to judgment from others. But if we have a foundation of trust, we can share those struggles with other believers and receive love and grace, just as we would receive from Christ himself. And ironically, the more we share our deepest hurts with others, the less power that pain has over us. As we heal, we may even be able to share those hurts and struggles with others who are going through those same struggles, allowing God to use our past to then be an encouragement to others.
One of the last topics we discussed was service. Again, we turned to John 15, where it tells us that in order to bear fruit, we must remain in the vine (Jesus). As we remain in him, our soul becomes watered with the living water he provides. That flourishing spirit then overflows into service for other believers. Christi compared this to Jacob working for Rachel in Genesis 29:20:
So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
When we participate in service to other believers out of a love for Christ, that service seems light. It isn’t a burden. This is something I’ve really struggled with over the past couple years, so this idea hit me pretty hard. The question Christi asked was:
“What is missing when we are withering in service?”
We are missing that love for Christ, and that might be a reflection that we are not remaining in him like we should. In order to be watered again, we need to go back to the source of life and continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
John 7:37-39: 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
So the question remains: Are you watered? Are you remaining in Jesus and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to renew your heart? Or are you withering? Are you feeling cut off from the living water that Jesus provides?
If you are feeling watered, how can you use that to encourage other believers? If you are feeling withered, what Christian friends can you go to for encouragement? And whether you are watered or withering, continue to remain in God’s word and be connected to the vine of Christ.