Jesus: The Living, Giving Vine
The only way to bear spiritual fruit is to remain in the Source of life.
by Tami Rudkin
I am the vine; you are the branches. . . . apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5, NIV).
Inch by inch, anything is a cinch.
I can do anything I set my mind to.
Never, never, never give up!
Nothing is impossible.
Believe in yourself.
Change your thinking, change your life.
We all have heard or read such inspiring quips about changing our lives, celebrating our lives, courageously living new, awe-inspiring lives. To be honest, I am drawn to such sayings because I truly want to be a better person.
Secretly wished and crudely admitted, I want more than I have presently. I want more purpose. I want more friends. I want more admiration from my peers. I want to accomplish great things. I want to have the kind of personality that is so contagious, everyone seeks to be near me. I want to be loved more.
Cause for celebration
I once heard a man say, “I want to live such a life that even the undertaker is sorry I’m gone.”
Me too. When I am done with this earthly journey, I want people to celebrate my life. I want them to remember me for my intense loyalty to Jesus Christ, for my unsurpassed love of family and friends, for a gentle determination to see justice for all, for a deep joy exhibited in laughter and hugs, for a sense of unexplainable peace, and for a heart full of forgiveness. Doesn’t that sound great? Who wouldn’t want those things?
There’s only one problem. Not a single person who walks this planet can achieve and sustain all that by themselves. It does not matter how positively I think, how many times a day I say, “Believe in yourself,” or how convinced I am that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Depending solely on my own strength, I don’t have it in me. I’m like a rose stem cut from the plant. The bud will unfold beautiful, delicate petals and a sweet fragrance fills the air, but it is only for a time. As the days pass, my color fades, my petals dry, and my pleasing aroma dissipates. My goodness, my charm becomes only a memory. I fail to thrive, for I have been disconnected from the main, life-giving source.
That natural law applies to my spiritual life, too. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. . . . apart from me you can do nothing.” Pretty strong words, but aren’t they true?
Just when you think you have been the perfect adoring spouse, he says something that injures you deeply.
Just when you think you can overcome any obstacle, your boss erects the Empire State Building for you to scale.
Just when you think you have been a selfless servant, a bothersome little woman is standing on your doorstep at 10:15 p.m.
Just when you think you have been a good, loyal friend, you are faced with the harsh reality that sometimes loyalty isn’t a two-way street.
What happens then? We fail. Suddenly, the rose we’ve been so proud of begins to wilt. We begin to spew vicious, hurtful words. We strategize ways to get even, and we act in a manner that would make the Devil himself blush in embarrassment.
Unless, of course, we are attached to the Vine.
Jesus the Vine is full of the love, peace, patience, and longsuffering perseverance we need to handle any of life’s situations. We know, because we have studied His life; He exhibited rose-like qualities no matter His circumstances. Though the crowds pushed against Him, He still wanted to tenderly touch the hurting. Though the once leprous danced away thankless, He kept on healing. Though He needed sleep badly, He stood to face off the lake squall for the sake of His frightened companions. And though His friends had turned tail and run, He still met them on the beach for one last fish fry.
The Vine. Jesus said if we would abide in Him, stay attached to Him, live in Him, we would produce the fruit — His fruit. His love, service, forgiveness, selflessness, and perseverance will be mine, and yours, if only we will be a part of Him, having our thirst quenched, our hunger satisfied, our usefulness realized.
I can be beautiful by myself, for a time — and if I am in the perfect conditions, with the right kind of care, if no one touches my petals, and if someone will give me a little sweetness from time to time. But I have become ashamedly convinced that I can’t maintain the beauty indefinitely, unless I am attached to the Vine.
What I do with my life, this day and in the days to come, is of utmost importance to me. But I have no desire to attempt gracefulness and fruitfulness on my own. It only ends in dry, faded, useless petals.
I find an unexplainable contentment in the Vine; He knows my needs and sustains my life. Because of Him I can live with a godly purpose of meeting people’s needs, bringing joy to friends, and sharing splendor that lasts, eternally. And because I am empowered to bear His exquisite fruit, even the undertaker will be sorry I’m gone.