“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me , ou can do nothing. John 15:5
About a year and a half ago I determined I wanted to have more fruit in my life. I knew the way to get more fruit was to spend time in the Word of God and praying. So each day I spent the first hour of my day doing just that. I prayed, I read my Bible, and I memorized the book of James.
Throughout that first year, my love for God grew, my faith grew but fruit was an effort. On the inside, I would be frustrated but I would force a smile. I couldn’t figure out how to get my inside heart and mind to match the outside actions.
Feeling stuck I decided to attend a Making Peace weekend. There I realized I had come to the end of myself and my efforts. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make myself good on the inside.
Change – real fruit came when I surrendered control. Instead of trying to do life on my terms with me in charge, I decided to trust Jesus and follow His plans and path for my life. It seemed so counterintuitive to me, having a deeply ingrained philosophy that I can do anything by hard work and determination.
But, I now see that the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control come not by my plans but by me being willing to let God lead. That’s why they are called the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of Nancy.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have to work at life. My efforts just look different. Now, instead of gritting my teeth and doing the right thing I snuggle close to Jesus. Instead of reading my Bible being an item I check off my to-do list, it has become my flashlight for life. The words in the Bible are alive as they encourage, convict, strengthen and comfort me. The bubbling lava of anger inside me has been replaced with a well of grace and love.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. John 15:5
A branch cut off from the tree dies. The source of life doesn’t come from me, but from outside of me. When I was just taping construction paper fruit to my branches I wasn’t fooling anyone. Genuine fruit comes from being connected to a healthy life-giving tree. To live and serve Him effectively we need to be connected to Jesus.
Is attending church, reading your Bible and prayer a duty you check off your to-do list? Are you connected to the vine? What does that mean to you?
Father in Heaven, I want to be connected to you. I trust You even when I don’t understand. I thank you that you see the big picture. When I reflect on who you are, I’m humbled at my silliness to want to do things my way. Of course, your ways are better, for you are God. Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for the freedom and life you have given me. Hold me close, I don’t want to ever wander from the tree of life but I want to stay connected to you so you will produce fruit in me. In Jesus Name, Amen.