John 15:5-8 (New International Version)
5"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. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
The vine grew into the distance horizontally, seeming to go on forever. Many branches sprouted from it, strong and supple, with spiky, vibrant green leaves. Some bore tiny green or yellow green flowers, while others had clusters of the tiny berries that would grow into grapes.
On the ground, scattered at the base of the vines, lay branches that seemed to have fallen or been broken off, perhaps by the wind.
Those that had recently become detached still appeared to be alive, but as the leaves used up the residual life sap within the branch, the leaves became limp, dull and lifeless. The branches followed the leaves, soon becoming brittle, dry and easily broken. Soon the gardener would soon come to gather them up and burn them with other garden debris.
This picture came into my mind as I prayed one morning recently; a visual image of the powerful metaphor for spiritual life used in the Bible. I know it to be true and yet often I am dangerously close to falling off the vine.
Isn’t knowing the truth of a principle and then not allowing it to live in you, to be like the man spoken of in chapter one of the book of James?
James 1:22-25 (New Living Translation)
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
This morning, as we began our day, Paul prayed, “Sometimes we feel as though we don’t accomplish much, and then we realize we’ve been relying on our own strength. Thank you that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ “
I don’t want to be a useless, limp, disconnected branch. I want to be fruitful and healthy. There is only one way and no short cut; remaining in The Vine, the source of life.
Psalm 92:12-14 (New International Version)
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,