Intimate and organic
(Originally posted here)
I have been repeating over and over all day the verses from John 15. It is the memory passage I am pondering during this (past) season of my life. I think of the words all day and at night start to really wonder at my incomplete understanding. I wonder about bearing fruit. Wonder about being pruned. Wonder about where is this fruit I want to be bearing – how come I cannot see it at all and how can I get some? Wonder why do so often I feel like I am doing the very nothing Jesus speaks of? I don’t want to wither up and wonder what more I can do to be a fruit bearer for God. For weeks and weeks I cannot let this go. I think about it every day when reading these verses.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Finally I let it go – I move on to new verses although I feel totally incomplete about my understanding on fruitfulness in my own life. Months after this pondering has passed a bible study brings me back to these verses. Even though they are memorized, I open my bible and turn to them, wanting to read them afresh, asking God for new understanding like I am reading them for the first time. I am not wanting to be frustrated about these words from my savior again.
And God grants me the understanding I was missing. I read it as if for the first time ’Anyone who remains in me and I in them will bear much fruit.’ It is there right before me, my saviour’s words this time have saved me from worry. I need not wonder about who/what/where/when/why my fruit is coming. All he has left me with is the easy/impossible task of abiding in him. As I so often see played out in my own life, without him I can do nothing. But joyfully I am freed of my past worry, I only need to make my home in Jesus. I love the way the Message describes it:
4“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. 5-8“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.
Today, on Ash Wednesday I plan on making the same committment I did last year. To pray for (about) an hour a day during the season of lent. Instead of giving something up I want my relationship with my saviour to grow more ‘intimate and organic’, as only the gift of time can transform it. I look forward with nervous anticipation to God’s pruning and pray I will bring him glory by making my home in him.