There is one plant in my home that has survived nearly ten years. When people come in to my home they are amazed that it stands nearly seven feet tall. However, it’s had its moments over the years becoming so large that we’ve had difficulty finding the right post, having to break away some leaves that were dying as well as cutting pieces away to replant and give away. We brought this plant home with us when my mother died and it comforts me to think that it is her spirit that nourishes the main stalk by which all the other stalks and leaves are being nourished. Of course regular attention to its needs are important. I have my husband to thank for that. Its prominent place in my living room reminds me of the true vine of Christ and the relationship we have with that truth. Any part of us that negatively affects that relationship is broken away and any part of us that flourishes deserves to be shared. As we continually nourish ourselves with the Word of God we are strengthened as we prominently take our place in God’s kingdom. When others see us standing tall ready and willing to be pruned, they wonder not knowing our full story and yet are amazed. If they ask, we have only simply to say “It’s the spirit of God that abides in me.”
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes* to make it bear more fruit…. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit… John 15:1-16
I’ve never been much of a gardener, but I realize how important it is to water our own soil, fertilize our roots and dig a trench around us to prevent the invasion of competing plant life upon the ground on which we currently stand. It’s so easy to cease being who we are in Christ, when we don’t remember to nourish ourselves with God’s word, God’s promises and God’s love. Of the times when I felt like I wasn’t bearing any fruit, and unable to nourish myself, I am grateful for all the gardeners who have been a part of my life and continued to believe in me. …Let it alone for one more year… Luke 13:1-9
…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains… John12:20-26 Everyone knows that a cold or flu must run its course. Sometimes we can take things that help shorten the effects of their duration, but it still runs its course. Nonetheless medication is a good way to fight through it until we can give our body the rest it really needs. If at some point we don’t stop and give our body the rest it needs, the situation will get worse before it gets better. Occasionally, this is how we treat life. Sometimes we fight so hard to keep what we have, push through bad situations or environments and turn away from the obvious. What we sometimes need to do is let things go, be still, and turn towards what is not so obvious to others, but to us is quite clear – much like that cold or flu, by God’s grace and favor – this too shall pass. We then emerge strengthened for our journey and again bearing much fruit.
“Listen! A sower went out to sow…” Matthew 13:1-9 I’ve heard this popular parable about seeds falling on various ground many times with several interpretations. I must admit however, that I heard something slightly different as I read it today. I see it much more positively than I’d previously read and my attention was drawn to the sower. Every new morning the sower has an opportunity to sow. Much like the seed of the sower which falls on various ground, the seeds we plant in our own lives fall on various ground. Of the things we work towards in life, some of them bear fruit and some don’t. Some things are extremely successful and other things are only slightly successful. Even the Word of God we have to share with the world isn’t always going to be received by every faction of the world. The key however is that the sower continues to sow. So too we must continue to sow the Word of God knowing that in spite of the birds of prey, the rocks and thorns, God will provide good ground.
Featured Image: The Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13:1-9 art by Earnest Graham, 2008 www.earnestillustrations.com
Since the day of resurrection, the message for us during this Easter season is squarely on relationship, God’s relationship with us and our relationship with one another. At the heart of that relationship is love and sometimes we have to encourage our selves in God’s love for us. He has already cleansed us with the power of his word. As we speak his words of truth for others we speak them for ourselves and know that that we will overcome the struggles and that the victory is always in the power of God’s eternal relationship with us. Thus our reward of eternal life is in our relationship with God; the goal that has no end.
Jesus says to his disciples and to us, “I am the true vine.” (And) He uses the word true to help us understand that he is the deeply rooted faithful and steadfast love of God from which all other love is to be connected. In the midst of so many other things that want to take root in our lives, as long as we have this relationship with God, even in the struggles we can be assured that he has not broken us off, but rather we must live in that eternal relationship and remain the branch that reaches out and bears fruit so that others might have that life also.
If in fact eternal life is our goal it seems to me that we must first understand what eternal life really means for us. Based on what I have come to understand about those individuals whom we’ve read about (Abraham, Moses, and the prophets etc.), all had direct relationship with God, I recognize and believe that eternal life for us today is synonymous with eternal relationship with Christ. The cleansing words of Christ in John’s gospel make it very clear, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” The purpose of this is to leave little room for anything else to take root in our lives that might influence us away from God. By definition, to abide is to continue or remain in a particular condition. Thus to abide in Christ is to remain in relationship with him in order that we may bring forth the fruit that is God’s love. Every relationship is potentially a branch to God’s love. As long as we abide in God’s love, we as believers strive to continue in this world as Christ is in this world. If we lose connection with the vine then every branch (relationship) we have, potentially loses connection through us. The life of the vine is what gives us hope. Stay connected to the vine!