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Allison Althoff
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December 22, 2009

“Remain in Me”

Apart from Christ we can do nothing.

Nearly seven years ago, I started a business. I prayed diligently about the decision and sensed God’s confirmation to move forward. Because of my inexperience in retail operations, I depended heavily on God for wisdom and direction. Between the first time I caught a vision for this venture and the day we opened our doors, I prayed every step of the way.

On opening day, customers lined up around the building. With pounding heart and sweaty palms, I became acutely aware of the fact that the success or failure of this business rested on me. For the next four years, I ran the store as if this were true.

Instead of praying for God’s wisdom or listening to the counsel of trusted advisors, like my husband, Dan, who was also my business partner, I relied on my own understanding. I simply was too busy and preoccupied to spend time reading my Bible. And when I did make time, I found myself re-reading the same passage over and over and never grasping the words. Daily preoccupation over my work took the place of daily quiet time with God.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). I discovered how true his words are. The longer I skimmed in my spiritual life, the further I fell from the vine. And the further I fell from the vine, the more all my efforts proved fruitless.

Making decisions apart from God and Dan started to have a snowball effect that eventually led to the demise of our business—and nearly our marriage.

Looking back on those four years, I know now what was at play: apart from Christ, I could do nothing. Instead of remaining in Jesus, as he instructs us to do in John 15:5, I ran on ahead without him.

If I remain in Christ and he remains in me, there is nothing we can’t do together. I stay connected to Christ primarily through prayer and Bible reading. How about you? What’s your best way for clinging to the vine?

Related Tags: Discipleship


You know, it's very easy for us to commit something into the hands of God, and then take it back, consciously or unconsciously. It will only take a down spinning for us to realise that all the while we thought we had our concerns in the hands of God, we had actually been the one calling the shots. I have had experiences in my life that had knocked me over, and it took the mercy of God to bring me back to the point where I came to realise that indeed, there's actually nothing I can do without Him. How do I cling to the vine? Faced with any issue at all, and with the knowledge that I have a God who causes ALL things to work for my good; I take care of some creeping demons (you know those ones that know they have no ability to stop your blessings, but can do something to cause a delay) in prayer as often as I can, continuosly confess God's word over my situation, and ask for His grace to wait until the time He chooses to perfect that which concerns me. The christian life is much easier to live, knowing that God controls the universe and nothing can happen except He wills it. At the end of the day, it's His will that will be done, whether we believe it or not. If we fail, He remains faithful.

Great reminder. Thank you, I needed that. My only critique is that some may misunderstand and believe that more prayer and Bible reading would have necessarily saved your business. Being part of the Vine means that we don't get to choose the fruit that God is after.

You are so right. We have to seek God for direction and trust His leading. This is a great reminder for me.

Yes i agree,i had a similar experience when i was studying.it was like i hit a brick wall then i remember that i had abandoned my God soon after i started my course.i repented immediately and he showed me mercy and i passed the course now,is if God does not sanction it i am not doing it.

I'm right there with you. My husband and I did something I never thought I'd do. We wrote a book and self-published (gasp! No!). Yes. But the truth is, we felt so strongly that it was what we were supposed to do. We don't know where any of it will lead, what the purpose is. We just keep doing what we feel led to do, one step at a time. But here's the irony: The topic of the book, the inspiration behind it, was handed to my husband at a time when I was so wrapped up in doing God's work, I stopped consulting God. It's like I was trying to earn a gold star from God, instead of just walking his path and doing his will, realizing that even the amazing things that happen in our lives are just steps on the path.
Thanks for this reminder. You asked what we do to stay connected to God. I take time every morning, even if it means getting up before 5, which it usually does. It's quiet time. I drink my coffee and pray. Sometimes, I read the Bible. Sometimes, I write. Sometimes, I just pray. Sometimes, I connect more than other times, but the end of the story is, anything I try to do on my own pales in comparison to anything I do simply because I felt God asked me to.
Does that make sense? I hope so.

Great reminder of keeping connected to God in reading & meditating on the Bible. Remembering that He's there for me in every situation is key.

i am in this situation

i think u just reminded once again of an important part of my day to day relationship with jesus... hw esily we get caught with so many activities. thank you

Thank you, thank you for this article.

I too, was in the exact same situation.

I thought I was depending on God for wisdom and direction in my business, and I thought I was spending quality time in my bible reading and in prayer. However, after the demise of my business, I realised, that I had been running ahead of God, that I had not always given Him time to answer my prayers, I was in too much of a rush and was leaning on my own understanding. My personal and intimate relationship with God had slipped.

Reading your article and Bonnie’s comments, has given me the final piece to my puzzle, as I have recently been asking myself, “what else was I doing wrong?’ as I will be starting up in business again.

Your article has answered my question. I thank God for this divine connection. I will not be straying from the vine again, as I now know, apart from Him, I can do nothing.
I will be clinging on, as I have now learned to confess God’s Word over every situation and wait on His timing.

May you all be continually blessed as you bless others with your ministry.

Carole in the UK.

Christ is our portal to God; I experienced a similar awakening of my drift from God, and I now realize that my connection to God can't be intermittant but with every breath of our day 24/7. I have now taken silent prayer with every activity I engage in. It's not that difficult really, Jesus said "My yolk is light". So don't think in terms of setting aside a time for God, but stay with God in everything you do.

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