Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. – John 15:4
One of the garden chores that I must do every spring is pruning.
First to go are branches that are obviously dead: withered, brittle, and blackened. I also thin out less healthy branches and re-shape any shrubs that need a facelift.
Throughout the pruning process, I always discover some branches that may seem dead, yet still hold life; or, they may appear to be alive, but are actually dying.
Like Dickon in The Secret Garden, I must determine which of these are “wick” – that is, which are truly alive. If the branch seems relatively pliable, there’s hope. As well, if I scrape my fingernail on its bark and the wood beneath appears green, that bright color is a sure sign that the branch is still viable.
I thought about those signs of life while reading John 15 today, the lovely passage about abiding in Christ.
If someone scraped away the protective “bark” around my heart, would they find a strong, pliable, verdant heart, indicating that I am relying solely upon nourishment from Christ for my spiritual health?
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. – John 15:5
At times, I think they might find a branch like some I find in my garden: broken by harsh winter weather, they are attached to the parent plant only by a bit of shredded bark, clinging to life.
Included in David Guzik’s commentary on John 15 is an excerpt by a man with the last name of Trench. He says,
“It is only by union with Him that any branch can bear fruit: once that union is broken, the sap no longer flows; and the fruit in that branch is no longer possible, though the remains of the sap that lay in it may be enough to bear leaves and so for a time give semblance of life.”
I certainly want to have more than a “semblance” of a spiritual life. To do that, I need to step out of my usual perfectionist, I-can-do-this-myself mindset.
Only quality time spent every day feeding my soul and strengthening my character with wholesome spiritual food will bring about fruit in my life.
To hear an inspirational song about this principle, click on the link below.
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. – Acts 17:28
What does abiding in Christ mean to you? Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to better yourself without abiding in him? I welcome your input, as always.