Have you ever felt a little nudge from God to change something in your life? Have you ever ignored that nudge? I know I have. For months God was placing it on my heart to get rid of my Facebook account. You know how long I toiled with God over Facebook? Too long to admit. I made excuses over Facebook; I mean, that's laughable. Shortly after taking the plunge, I came across this passage and man, I love how the lord can just bring clarity to your life in an instant.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. - John 15;1-4
I love how Jesus is the “true” vine. There can be a lot of imposters in the world, but there is only one True giver of life.
I love how God is the gardener. The gardener has wisdom, the gardener has a view of the whole garden--he knows what's best. The gardener is hands on, invested, working rain or shine, if he feels like it or not…. the gardener remains. The gardener planted the seed, and he has a purpose for that seed.
We must remain in God, not just near God.
This picture of God remaining in us and we in him shows the partnership we have in Christ. God isn’t going anywhere, he is in it for the long haul, through thick and thin, mountain peaks and valleys low, he remains.
Do you remain with him? Do you jump ship when things don’t go smoothly? Do you make excuses? Do you choose the world over God?
“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.”
We have to stay connected to the life source. We can’t just be “close” to the life source, we must remain in the life source.
I love the definition of remain: endure, last, abide, persist, stay, and prevail. I can’t tell you how many years of my life I lived close to the vine--one foot in, one foot out. Praying only when it was convenient. Going to church on Sundays, but getting blacked out drunk on Saturdays.
Giving pharisee eyes to all those who didn’t sin like me. Playing victim when things didn’t go my way. Placing expectations on everyone around me and giving no grace, yet demanding grace for my shortcomings.
Using the word “Christianity” as a term of endearment for my life, yet failing to model anything worth following. There was no life close to the vine, only emptiness failing to measure up to anything.
I love how intentional this verse depicts God's care over our life: “He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes."
He wants life for us; not only life, but life in abundance. All that is stagnant and life-stealing, he wants to rid us of it. He wants to take us out of the darkness and bring us into the light. When you don’t prune a plant the plant will never grow to its fullest potential.
God wants us to GROW. He wants us to be FREE, he wants us to truly LIVE.
How do you respond to God’s pruning?
Sometimes God is pruning the good things as well as the bad things. We can tend to take this as punishment, like he is trying to limit us. When in actuality, God is saying to us, “My child, do not mistake this for punishment, I am trying to propel you forward, to focus you on me.”
You see, Facebook isn’t bad. I am in no way telling anyone to get off Facebook (unless God is nudging you to, of course) but for where God wants me to be right now, Facebook was distracting me and I needed to prune it so I could devote my attention to what God was telling me to do.
We are all on different journeys. What is good for me might not be good for you. What is bad for me might not be bad for you. We should never compare our lives or think we have to prune something simply because a friend did.
Have you ever tried pruning God or God's word? I know I have.
I used to read the bible and skip over every part that I didn’t like. I used to read the “nice” bible verses, but leave out the ones of God's wrath. I used to think to myself, “well God, that part of you is not politically correct so SNIP” or “ God that doesn’t make me feel good, it doesn’t make me happy, it doesn’t work for me so SNIP."
I would cut things out from God and shove him in a box that fit me and where I wanted to be, so I could justify why I lived the way I lived. I never grew in my walk with Christ when I did that, nor did I have any fruit in my life. It wasn’t until I dug into God's word, and really learned my Father's heart did I realize there is nothing about him that I want to prune. He is perfect, holy, just, merciful, faithful and true.
Everything I thought I knew about him, everything I thought I didn’t like about him were because I really knew nothing at all about him. I love how God can transform our perspective simply by being connected to the life source.
Have you ever tried to prune someone else? A spouse? A friend? Your child? It's so easy to see where others need to change, isn’t it? We can get so high up on our thrones, and think we just have it all figured out, that we think we can tell someone else how to live their life. Man I'm guilty of that.
It's so easy to pull out the “should” isn’t it? “Well, you know you really SHOULD be doing…” We shame people and then they go to God in shame. Instead, God says, “Therefore, with loving kindness I have drawn you." Nobody can prune somebody else, only God can do that.
I love Jesus' life and how he never judged anyone for where they were in life. I'm thankful that he loved me before I loved him, I'm thankful he waited on me and never gave up, I'm thankful that he knew just the right moment to change this heart of mine.
It is not our job to change people. We are called to love people and watch as God changes them - Rich Wilkerson Jr.
I pray I'm a good steward of my salvation and that I will be a living example of love, grace, forgiveness and service so that others might see that and their hearts may be softened so God can draw them in. What are you doing with your salvation?
I will end with a story:
Three years ago, God placed a young mom in my life. Our paths were in exactly the same spot. We connected over our parenting styles and love for everything holistic and organic. We were both at the time far from our faith, and in all honesty, thought that good parenting and teaching our kids to be “good” people were the most important things. I often said God brought us together because he knew I needed someone similar to me, but in reality, God's picture was much much bigger than that.
In three short years, God took that friendship and slowly started softening our hearts, very simultaneously. He started to place desires in us that we could share with each other and be encouraged. He used each of us to inspire, and at times, carry the other one. He changed our perspectives and helped us learn from one another, until we both, at the very same time, became connected to our father.
We both humbly made a choice to submit to our God. I was always right about one thing: God did know we always needed each other, but it wasn’t because of our similarities. It was because he knew that together we would be brought to him and would make the choice to remain.
This friend was over the other day and we talked about Gods immeasurable faithfulness and detailed plan. We felt speechless and just in awe of our Father. What a good, good father. He has now placed a dream in both of us to bring Glory to him. I can’t wait to watch her journey unfold and for me to have a front row seat in God's masterpiece.
I pray no matter where you are at in your journey that God would reveal himself to you in such a way that you choose to remain, and may the blessings of that be life giving.
Love you friends.