“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (New King James)
I love flowers. Every spring I plant a ridiculous number of containers, spread them around my decks and gardens, and then revel in the blossoms. There is no colour I don’t enjoy, and with the exception of stinky marigolds, almost nothing I won’t plant. I plant in cheap plastic pots, expensive pottery, old wicker baskets and beat-up washtubs. I like tall plants, full plants, spiky plants and trailing plants. I like them in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse, and with green eggs and ham, Sam I am. And the best part of all of these plants is the fruit, which on a container plant means the flowers.
I work really hard at being a careful gardener, but I am keenly aware I cannot, despite my best efforts, actually make flowers grow. A stem laden with buds will blossom only if the stem continues to be attached to the stalk. If a hailstorm, or a soccer ball, breaks a stem away from the stalk, the stem will die. Period. No amount of care or fertilizer or water or sunshine will produce a flower on a stem that is separated from its life source. The stem must abide in the vine or it will produce nothing.
When talking plants, the growth requirements seem so clear and obvious, it’s almost silly to mention them. Yet the metaphor, so clear in the plant world, also applies to our spiritual lives, and sometimes we do manage to forget the connection. Jesus is our vine, and if we expect to bear any fruit, or experience any growth, we must abide in Him. Talking to Him, reading His word and worshipping Him are critical to those who want to abide in Him. He is our life, and if we are not connected to Him we will not produce fruit.
This fruit He produces in us is glorious: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). He can produce it only if we abide in Him–leaning into Him fully and deeply, connected at every level. Hanging out in the garden, as beautiful as it might be, will not produce flowers on a stem that isn’t connected, just as hanging out with Christians won’t produce fruit in us. Only Jesus can do that, and He can do it only if we co-operate and participate in the process.
I heard a pastor once describe coming to church as spiritual life-support. He meant if the only spiritual food you receive is the Sunday service you’re like a patient in ICU–alive but not really living. Really living takes abiding. Read God’s word. Pray constantly. Worship and praise and thank God. Rely on Him. Then, and only then, can He produce in you glorious, beautiful fruit .
Prayer: Kind Father, Thank you that you love us and desire an intimate, growing relationship with us. Forgive us when we forget that you are the source of life and of everything good in us. Remind us that we are yours, and help us to rely on you for everything. Teach us to abide deeply in you. Amen.
Contributed by Karen Vine
Photo: Some rights reserved by Flickr user daryl_mitchell