10/31/12 For the Long Haul

Hello! I'm glad we get to meet here today and dig into God's word! John 15:1-5

“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. 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."

As I was pondering these verses today, I imagine Jesus referring to vines and branches that would grow olives or grapes. Either image really impresses upon me the longevity, consistency, and resilience of what He was saying when He tells us to "remain in Me".  I have encountered very old examples of each that still produced such amazing fruit of all types.

For instance, a few years back I attended a wine tasting of wines made from grapes harvested from vines that were growing in the hills of Pompeii when the volcano's eruption covered the city in ash in AD 79. These roots were uncovered at some point and were grafted onto healthy vines, essentially recreating the grape stock that was cultivated thousands of years ago! It was a neat experience and very humbling to grasp the expanse of time.

I also think about a "holding cross" I recently bought my daughter. She has desperately wanted one since we had gotten one for a dear friend two years ago- it's simply a wooden cross, carved and shaped to comfortably be held with your hand wrapped around it. We looked and looked for the past few years and haven't had luck finding them again. Until this past weekend. And what a find! We found a holding cross like the one we had gotten for our friend, only it is made from reclaimed wood that came from olive trees that still grow just outside Bethlehem. According to the paperwork, these olive groves are thousands of years old, so this wood was easily growing when Jesus was born!

So I can't help but imagine that when Jesus talked about vines and branches in these verses in John, he was talking about a relationship with Him for the long haul - not something convenient for today or our current crisis, but for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year - even decades from now! He desires that long-term connection with us, and promises that this relationship will 'bear much fruit' -- no doubt long-lasting, like the revived grapes in Pompeii or the centuries-old wood from Bethlehem.

But we have to relinquish control to Him in order to remain in Him. We have to continually turn into Him, lean into Him, rely on Him, in order to experience the freedom of remaining in Him. And we have to flourish, grow, bear fruit - we can't help but do so when we remain in Him, just like branches and leaves and grapes and olives can't help but grow when they receive the nourishment they require.

What are your thoughts on today's reading?