It was an epic battle.
I still even bear the scars all the way down both of my arms and it’s been a week since the fighting ceased.
Vines, I tell you!
My husband and I have been cleaning out the overgrown hedges beside our home and tangled in these branches beyond our wildest expectation were these pesky, stubborn, unbelievable vines.
Some of them were spindly and fairly easy to yank out. Others had grown into monstrous, tree-trunk-sized plants that had to be sawed out of there.
We had to untwist each of the branches where they wound around the bushes. Then we had to yank out the roots wherever they had clamped down into the earth. They splayed off into every direction and created one gigantic tangled mess.
I started calling them demon vines. They certainly felt possessed with evil.
But they have given me an entirely different perspective on Jesus’s teachings to abide in Him like branches attached to a vine.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 ESV).
Whenever I’ve heard people talk about “abiding in Christ,” it sounded so easy.
Just abide in Him.
Just rest and abide in Him.
Struggling through a tough season?
Keep abiding and it’ll be fine.
It sounds like a fairly passive spiritual state. Just hold on to Jesus and you’ll be just fine.
And I try to “abide,” I do.
But life has a way of stepping all over peace and trampling over our joy.
There are these annoying stresses. These unexpected pits that trip us up. There are conflicts that derail our focus on Jesus and His love for us.
What if I re-consider what it takes to “abide?”
It’s not some relaxed, ideal state of non-worry and general passivity.
It’s active and full of effort.
After all, the branches on these vines in my yard are tenacious and unyielding. They can endure fierce opposition without budging.
In order for me to get rid of these things, I’m having to hack at them with a machete and I’m digging down into the dirt and pulling them out by their roots.
So if I’m going to be like the branches on the Vine, I need to cling to Jesus for dear life, refusing to let go, making every effort to stick as closely to Him as possible.
I’ll put down shoots into the dirt to keep a solid foundation, so I can be fruitful and filled with life.
This is what Jesus said abiding looked like:
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love (John 15:10 NASB).
The abiding life means obeying what God says, following Him wholeheartedly and recognizing that He is my Strength and my Source.
Oh, how my heart so easily slips into anxious fretting.
Oh, how easily I get caught up into wanting to defend myself or in efforts to do things my own way, to fix problems in my own strength, to provide, to make the good happen and fend off the bad.
So as soon as I start making plans for my own salvation, I need to stop and hang onto the Vine.
I can’t do this–all of this and any of this–apart from Him.
As soon as I find myself turning circles of worry, I need to get hold of the Vine! Meditate on Scripture. Turn up the praise music. Anything to keep from getting my focus yanked off Jesus.
This is what keeps me alive.
This is when He gives me abundant life and fruitfulness.