John 15:4 (KJV) — 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.
Branches that have been grafted into a vine, only bear fruit because they’ve been grafted into a live vine. So, the branch has become part of the true vine. Without the vine, the branches can’t bear fruit and will wither away.
Just like the bible says, my Christian faith is like a branch. I was grafted into the true vine many years ago, but did not start bearing fruit right away. In fact, it was quite a long time.
I was thinking about that this morning and thinking about how grapevines produce fruit. There is a correlation, for sure but it has taken me a loooooong time to relate it to my life.
Grapevines need to be pollinated and depending on the variety, they may flower but not produce fruit until a few years have past. Sometimes, they need fertilizer and pesticides for protection. The branches also must be pruned to make more fruit come on. All of that requires a gardener.
I understand now why I didn’t bear fruit for so long. I wasn’t being pollinated. I had little fertilizer and little protection from insects and disease and I didn’t allow the process of pruning to result in fruition.
God tells us exactly how to cultivate our faith. John 15
Good stuff, but that’s a story I didn’t fully understand but now I can correlate it in human terms.
Pollination means to me that I was not reading the bible and praying consistently. I also did not spend time much time cultivating Christian relationships (fertilizer), and for many, many years, I never thought twice about the type of books, movies and TV I consumed (protection/insecticide). Pruning I think, is the act of my surrendering more of myself and my problems/pain (emotional, physical, or spiritual) and letting the Holy Spirit do the redemptive work in my life.
All of this must be handled by someone who knows how to make stuff grow. There’s no better being to do that, than God.
It’s painful to make this admission, but last night, I felt the nick of the pruning knife again and know that I have more to surrender in the days that follow. I’d like to say I’m done growing — translation: I’m tired of pain, surrender and uncertainty, but I risk the branch dying if I don’t let myself be pruned by the gardener.