In From the Vine

By Sarah Damm

Every year, I attend a weekend-long silent retreat. It is an opportunity for me to respond to Jesus’ invitation to “come away by [yourself] to a lonely place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

This year, almost immediately upon my arrival, a quite-convincing theme came to me: “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). And while it was a bold, matter-of-fact statement, Jesus delivered it in the kindest, gentlest manner. And my entire being felt at peace, as I relaxed into surrender.

As Jesus revealed this truth to me, He reminded me of how important it is to depend on God. And how He is the epitome of this dependence.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shows us how much He relies on His Heavenly Father.

“Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

Yes, there is a myriad of examples of Jesus praying to and depending on the Father. He desires to do the will of the Father, in every moment of His earthly life. Time and time again, He shows us that He and the Father are one (John 10:30).

But even with Jesus’ clear example to follow, I have struggled to depend on God fully. To lean into His strength. To trust in His help.

For a while now, in prayer, Jesus has gradually been shifting my focus to the Father. Jesus desires me—and all of us—to know the Father the way He knows Him. And while it has taken some time, I am grateful for the patient and tender way Jesus continues to draw me closer to the Father.

Most recently, on retreat, I made it all the way into the Father’s lap!

That’s right!

I climbed up into my Father’s lap and felt the warmth of His embrace and His affection for me. And I believed, maybe for the first time in my life, that I am indeed Daddy’s little girl.

And as I rested my head upon my Father’s chest, I started to understand why Jesus kept pointing me to the Father: He wanted to show me that I don’t have to rely on my human limitations to do what God asks of me. God doesn’t expect me to do anything on my own. He is here to help. Moreover, He is here to do it for me.

In today’s Gospel, we are invited to take up our cross; we are asked to lose our life for the promise of something more (Matthew 10:38-39). And while theoretically, that sounds great, in the midst of real life, that can feel impossible, especially when we think we have to do it ourselves.

But when we can bring it to the Father — “This is beyond me. I can’t do this without You.” — we see that our dependence on God opens us to a spirit of receptivity. Like a little girl asking her Daddy for help, we recognize God’s desire to lavish His grace upon us. We realize that in our weakness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).

The cross we are asked to carry, the hard things we simply cannot do on our own, no matter how hard we try—these are the vehicles for our salvation. But in our place of suffering, we are also in the ultimate place to receive every kind of help from God, so we may also receive the promise of a new life in His glory (Romans 6:4).

Lord, You are a good, good Father. Today, we pray for the grace to surrender and be open to all the ways You desire to help us. We can’t do it on our own, Lord, but we know You can do it for us. May we generously choose You above all other things in our lives, as we sing of Your goodness now and forever. Amen.

About the Author:

Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, helping with homework, and keeping up with laundry and the family schedule. Sarah loves her faith, coffee, and good books. You can find out more about her at sarahdamm.com.

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