By Byron Day, BCM/D President and Pastor of Emmanuel Church, Laurel, Md.
Many of us have heard of the Heimlich maneuver. This technique is used to dislodge something caught in someone’s throat causing the individual to choke.
It is absolutely critical that this medical technique be employed properly and timely since the person’s life is at stake.
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, choking is the inability to breathe because the trachea is blocked, constricted, or swollen shut. Some of the symptoms of choking include; an inability to speak, grasping for air, a weak cough, and desperately reaching at his or her throat, all of which signal an immediate need for help.
Sometimes God’s servants can find themselves choking spiritually. The demands of family, career, and ministry can cut off the spiritual oxygen that is needed to persevere in this world. Even the most seasoned saints can find themselves gasping for air, being overwhelmed by the trials of the Christian life.
Jesus provided the cure for spiritual choking in John 15 when he tells us to abide in Him.
In John 15:1-8 Jesus reminds His disciples there is nothing more important in life than abiding or remaining in a close personal relationship with Him.
He uses an illustration that they would have clearly understood, the vine and the branches. There are three things that we should note if we are to avoid choking on life today.
First, Jesus establishes the nature of the relationship.
In verse one, He says that He is the vine. Jesus is the source of life; He provides nourishment and the energy that the branches will require.
The Father is the vinedresser or owner of the vineyard. He is the caretaker, the one who looks after the vine and branches.
Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that true life is in Jesus Christ. True peace and joy can only be found in Him. Jesus invites us to enjoy life by entering into and remaining in a close intimate relationship with Him.
Second, Jesus states the benefits of the relationship.
In verse 7, He says that if we abide in Him we may ask what we desire and it will be done for you. Needless to say that there are other teachings in Scripture that qualifies Jesus’ statement.
Nevertheless, the Lord assures His disciples that if they would continue to obey and fellowship with Him that their prayers would be answered.
Third, Jesus sets forth the goal of the relationship.
In verse 8, He states that the goal is for God to be glorified by the fruit we bear. Throughout the passage, it is stated that God’s desire is that His disciples bear fruit.
Jesus had taught the 12 that the fruit expected by the Father includes the fruit of good works, the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of the gospel.
So the question remains are you choking? In other words, are you experiencing the power of the vine or is something blocking the source of power and strength?
We need to make time with God a priority, in fact the priority of the day. The Psalmist says as a deer pants for water so my soul pants for thee (Ps 42:1).
Are you choking?