Accepting Twig Status

img_1087John 15: 5-8…(Jesus Teaching) “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. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you will bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

I have a problem. An identity assignment problem if you will. You see, my mind thinks it’s this big beautiful tree with glorious roots diving deep into the soil. But reality says otherwise. I’m a twig. A lowly, fragile, don’t know squat about squat…twig. Sticking awkwardly off the branch going every which direction with the wind, and totally dependent on the branch, and further, the tree, for every need.

The mind says – “What a loser. Jump down in the earth idiot, and become a tree yourself. You just think you need that tree, but that tree is just using that to control you. It’s a rigged game. All the trees are in on it. Jump!” The branch says – “I’ve told you the truth. You know it’s the truth. But the choice is yours. Jump and die, or stay and live.” I look around my surroundings in the beautiful land my tree stands, and I see mounds of fallen trees, branches and twigs. Dead. In big heaps. Storms, wind, age, fire…take your pic. Death is everywhere in the forest. So is life. I surely will stay. I made that decision a long time ago. I believe the branch, and I love and trust the tree. So what is my problem?

The issue here is that until I fully submit to the fact that I’m a stupid twig, I can’t fully turn into the thick and growing branch the tree wants and needs me to be. Perhaps I’m being a little hard on myself here…but that’s how it feels. Maybe I’m like half twig/half branch. With little tiny buds of fruit starting to blossom. But then I stunt them by going right back to dreaming about being the tree. The ground calls out…”Hey stupid twig, are you still listening to those fairy tales? You’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you?” But I know they aren’t fairy tales. I know the fate those voices will sooner than they imagine will face. It’s right there all around them. But they can’t see it…they just walk around it, talk around it, and squawk about it. Even if I never become anything more than this twig/branch hybrid thingy, the branch, via the tree, have given me eternal life. They have time to be patient with me.

I love them so for that. I want to be more for them. It burns inside me. Grow up, twig…grow.

I took this photo on sabbatical this week in Cades Cove, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountain National Park. It reminded me of those red letters of Jesus…and inspired this pondering. I hope it gives you cause to ponder, too…maybe. My fellow twigs.

Gary Abernathy





Rediscovering Wonder


Job 12: 7-10…”But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

The context of that scripture lifted for this topic is that Job is in the midst of an intense debate. Earlier he addressed his opponent hotly and mockingly exclaiming…”Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!” But then he does something wiser and more intelligent than all the flowery intellectualism, theology and grand thinkers could ever bring themselves down to do – He says, (paraphrasing) “Ask the animals. The Birds…the fish. The earth. They know the truth. I’m but a laughingstock among you and I know that, but I, too, have a brain, and I’m not inferior to you. I called on God and he answered.”

Whenever it comes that I’m called upon to be brotherly and helpful to another that is troubled and seeking, the first thing I do is point them at nature. Every single time. I want them to rediscover wonder. Doing so points them right at God, whom of course is the solution…not me. Remember as a child that feeling a deep sense of wonder was a regular occurrence? We took it for granted because for a child everything is new. We’re immersed in wonder. It’s certainly not difficult to get a small child to “buy into” the idea of a God. They already know. But time moves and the wonder fades until it eventually only comes in moments. For some, it disappears completely as they sink into deep cynicism and bitterness. They speak grand thoughts and ideas from their mind and pat themselves on the back at how wonderful and smart they are, but their hearts are so far from God that on the inside is nothing but fear and often despair.

Wonder. How do we get it back? I don’t know how to answer that question for anyone else, but I like to believe we are all filled with the same capabilities if we only dig around inside to find them. One of God’s greatest gifts to me was giving me a sense of wonder that is easily accessible. At age 50 I still get awed by the sight of a snowflake falling. The colors of Autumn. Heck, I’ve even marveled at fire ant mounds in my front yard, and I detest those painful beasts greatly. Nature. My wonder comes alive and I instantly feel the realness of his presence. My worldly worries melt away in that presence. In the gospels, Jesus is often going off alone retreating into the mountains or some reclusive area. We don’t really know what he was doing other than of course praying, so there is plenty of room to speculate. I like to think he was following the same instinct inside his human body that you and I also have. Go to where the Father is more easily felt.

So for me, I often go off alone in that manner. At least once a season. My winter version is less than two weeks away. My soul is jumping for joy like John in the womb was when Mary entered the room. That’s the pure anticipation I feel. It’s not easy to do. The world sets itself up so that there are seemingly endless reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t take the time to feel wonder. It blocks us from God’s presence. It redirects us. “Don’t go there…go here instead! What happens here stays here! Going there is boring and stupid. Come over here where all the people are.”

Rediscover your wonder. When I was around 5-8 years old, I would often spend my entire Saturday afternoons in the vast woods behind my Grandparents house. It was a wonderland of awe back in those days. Big flowing creek, thick woods, fallen leaves, and animals of all kinds. I never felt a fear that I was too far away. I never felt alone. I never felt threatened by my surroundings. What I felt was…at home. I felt wonder. And though I didn’t know then, I truly wasn’t alone. Jesus was right there with me. Digging for crawdads in the creek just like I was. Smiling.

Think about the things that once made you feel that way. Try to remember that joy. It’s your first step towards the desired peace you’re chasing. The picture I used in this post was taken last April (2016) in the mountains around Park City, Utah. That’s my wife after taking a big spill off her snowmobile. We were having a blast at around 10,000 feet elevation flying around in endless snow, and she suddenly toppled over. Look at her face. She’s not crying. That’s the face of joyful wonder. Find whatever it is that makes you feel like that…and you’ll start getting along with God a whole lot better. Guaranteed.


Gary Abernathy




For This Very Reason…


2 Peter 1: 1-7…”His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”

2016 was a spectacular year for me. Not many in the court of public opinion share that sentiment, but that was my experience nonetheless. I started the year with a burning desire to build this devotional blog globally. My intentions were good but my underlying motivation was wrong. My previous blog, a politics and war opinion forum, spread to well over 100 nations across the world with zero effort by me to make it happen. It just did. To this day, I still get hits on it all over the world from articles on everything from the Soviet Gulag to ISIS. It won’t die. I figured if I could do that with subjects I hated with every bit of my passion, then God would spread a devotional blog where all my loving heart was on display to even greater heights. By the end of 2016 it had spread to 25 nations and every continent on earth except Antarctica. I don’t think any one lives there. But something didn’t feel right, and God put a muzzle on me the second half of the year. The blog went dark. Even so, already in 2017 we have views from 4 countries just checking if there is anything new. Brazil, South Africa, Canada and the good ol’ USA. Let’s turn the lights back on.

The thing that wasn’t right was the position from which I was writing from. I never write from arrogance, but I was attempting to write from the standpoint of teacher, and God gently explained to me…1. I’m not ready for that. 2. Teachers hold a position of high responsibility in spiritual matters, and that I had better make sure I was ready for the consequences if I failed. I was basically given the option of – A. Shut up and learn. B. Face another painful rebuke. I chose – A. If you’ve never experienced a rebuking by the spirit, trust me, it’s much easier to just go where you’re told to go. The good shepherd swings that staff roughly if he has to. So, I dove myself back deeper into learning his ways. What a year it turned out to be. I was shown so much majesty I’d never be able to convey it all back to readers. That picture above this piece? That was taken back in the fall in the mountains of North Carolina. God hauled me up yet another big hill and let my eyes feast upon the very best of creation. He did that a great deal for me in 2016. He even took me to another grand hill, this time in Scotland,  where he showed me the very origins of my name and heritage, and to top it all off, “hugged” me with a huge burst of wind as I finished praying to him looking over his majestic vista. God was filling his child with good things.

Peter tells us in the above scripture not to just rest on the gift of salvation, but instead because of it, make every effort to use the freedom of existence without shackles, to transform our earthly life to meet up with our eternal one. Fill with good things, and when we do, we set forth on our destined path that leads to all those things being added to us. Eventually, we meet God, which = Love. Not any earthly definition of love. Actual, real, pure and holy goodness…Love. That is the final destination for those that belong to him, and we aren’t required to wait for it. We only must begin walking on the right path. God put me on that path. I’m still plodding along. If I had to mark my progress, I’m somewhere in the land of learning self-control while still gaining knowledge that will see me past that landmark. It’s fearful to let go of the world. Honestly, I’ve never met many earnestly aware that’s what they are attempting to do. I know a few and that’s it. We fail many of the tests, but our knowledge continues to increase as we fine tune where we went wrong and adjust. In the same way any other great thing was built – by trial and error. I have to state…God has been SO gentle with me this time. It’s not at all like it was when he had to conk me over the head to get my full attention. He knows that I know when I’m screwing up, lightly prods me in the side when needed, and lovingly whispers encouragement in my ears. I don’t know if this gentleness will remain for all of the walk, but I sure hope so. Either way, whether by staff to the head, or gentle encouragement in the ear, I will keep walking his walk until I get to him. I believe I can write again. Just not as a teacher, but instead, a brother sharing his experiences and things I’ve learned on the path. A guide. Maybe a funny looking Sherpa. There is but one teacher and his name is not mine.

Where are you on your walk? Are your feet even moving in the right direction? If not, the first and only place to start looking as to what went wrong is what you are filling your existence with. Where is your passion being funneled? We all get trapped in and by the world. It’s 100% guaranteed. Do you have the knowledge to get out of the traps? Has the staff pulled you out of those deep holes? You know whom you must call to for help.

For this very reason, start filling your life with goodness. “The Bible” has been mocked into cartoon like silliness by the world. But there’s grand reason the world does that…those are living words from the creator directly to you and Mr. World knows that. That silly book is life itself. It’s your passport to eternity. Start reading one psalm and one chapter of proverbs daily, and pray the Lord’s Prayer on your knees afterwards. Watch what happens.

See you on the path.

Your Brother,

Gary Abernathy