Just a branch

Last year for my birthday I went to Lowes and bought two scrawny pear trees for $20 each. I shoved them like a bad tetris game into the back of my honda odyssey van and headed home hoping my husband would approve. (he wasn’t as excited as he should’ve been ha!) My garden that started as two small boxes has multiplied to 6 raised beds, one raspberry patch, planters of Chamomile tea flowers and now perhaps a partridge in my two pear trees.

I used to kill everything green and now I am obsessed with my garden and watching the miracle of plants. It’s just amazing to me how some survive the winter underground, others seem to die and then reseed the next year producing 10 times as many plants, and others start as tiny beautiful flowers and end as enormous fruits.

I see a lot of God in my garden because it really is a miracle. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing I can do to MAKE a seed grow into a plant. He has to breathe the life into each little seed and grow it into a stalk or a vine or a tree. He uses me to plant the seed, to water and care for his plants, but in the end…He is the one doing the hard work of creating life and bearing the fruit.

Lately I have just wanted to serve God and be  His disciple. I want to do lots of awesome things for Him. But sometimes I get frustrated when my efforts don’t work out or my plans for good go south in my family or in my community. Sometimes I try so hard to be the vine holding everything together, I forget that I am just a branch. There is peace knowing that my job is just to be loved and to love–God will take care of the rest.

Even if you’ve read these words a million times. Don’t rush. Stop and meditate over what Jesus is saying in John chapter 15

“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.” (John 15:5)

I don’t know about you, but something stings about that last part. That when we try to do even good things without Jesus we will fail. We will fail because our human selfishness, pride, and arrogance will at some point get in the way. I see this sometimes when I wake up in the morning saying “I’m going to make today a good day!” Then by 10:00 I’m about to lose it because my plan is not working out the way I want it to and no one else is conforming to my desires. As Americans, we want to work hard to accomplish the goal of goodness and love just like everything else we work for in our lives, but Jesus says it just won’t work if we take Him out of the equation. He is the vine holding it all together and we are just branches reaching out HIS love to the world.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (vs 7-8)

What hits me about this is that Jesus is encouraging you and I to pray to our Father for help to bear fruit. Maybe that’s how we keep Him as our vine. We humble ourselves and pray to the vine asking for His help in discipleship. We ask Him to help us love one another, to give us opportunities to bear fruit in love, for guidance to love others well and be His disciples, and for humility to know that it’s not for our gain but for HIS.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my command, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (vs. 9-10) “And my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.”(vs 12)

Somewhere I heard a saying like, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” As I sat staring at these verses, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to His wisdom. I heard in my heart that this is the most important part. In order to love each other well, we must allow ourselves to embraced in the love of Christ.

We can’t just wake up willing ourselves to have a good day and be good to others. We have to wake up knowing that we are crazy loved by Christ. That the Father of the universe loves you. The king who died on the cross for you loves you. The Holy Spirit inside you is for you and loves you. We have to wake up knowing that we are loved by the vine so that our branches can bear fruit loving others.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” (vs 16-17)

Good quality fruit that lasts generations is what we are after. We are not after numbers of blog followers, perfect church attendance, an A+ on a college paper, a clean record, an awesome Facebook profile, or an impressive job title. No. As God’s disciples we are after love. Passing on a love that is not our own, but comes from the ultimate perfect source– one that never runs out and is better than anything we could imagine. We are branches of the tree all working together as the body of Christ each reaching out in different directions, but all connected to the core.

I’m done trying to be the vine. I want to be His branch stretching out to all I meet and giving them what I have received. God’s love, mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance. And maybe a pear from my pear tree too.

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