It was almost 30 years ago now that I "discovered," as if for the first time, that I am a branch...a beloved one at that, but just a branch...in the Vine, the Father's true Vine, that is. And I love being a branch, because a branch doesn't have to be smart or strong. All a branch has to do is what Jesus told His disciples just hours before His death on our behalf. And what is that something? Let's take a look as Jesus tenderly prepared His beloved disciples for the days ahead by following His walk through a vineyard on the way to Gethsemane.
Jesus to His disciples:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. ... Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. ... If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father.
I have loved you as the Father has loved Me. Abide in My love. Follow My example in obeying the Father’s commandments and receiving His love. If you obey My commandments, you will stay in My love. I want you to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction, which is why I am telling you all of this. John 15:1-17 VOICE
Abide...Jesus seems to love that word. Abide to bear fruit, abide to live in His love, abide to do anything.
What does it mean to abide?
My spiritual father Andrew Murray starts us off with reflections on abiding (click on his name for more about abiding):
On my part abiding is nothing but the acceptance of my position, the consent to be kept there, the surrender of faith to the strong Vine still to hold the feeble branch.
Found in my file from years gone by is this quote from Discipleship Journal, titled "Life as a Branch":
Perhaps one of the most profound things I am learning about abiding is that it never takes you out of the moment you are in ... Abiding is not primarily about cloister and quiet. The invitation to abide is the invitation to draw spiritual sustenance directly from its Supernatural Source amid the dailiness of life! ... If we abide, fruit happens! We do our part, but there is a life that flows up through the roots and branches that is beyond our ability to understand or produce! Abiding is and always will be a moment by moment thing!
A young friend of my children, Tess Augustine, wrote recently on facebook about contentment, an aspect of abiding:
One of the most important lessons I've learned is the JOY of being content. That's not the same as settling or giving up. That's not forfeiting dreams or "goals" because of your current circumstances. It's about being QUIET in the waiting. It's about learning to cheer others on, as they are blessed and able to do more, and help more. It's about being okay when someone's impact, abilities, talents and purpose instead of trying to do it all and be it all. It's not possible to do EVERYTHING well. It's about being joyful and loving to people and being okay when they may not return the feelings It's about humility. It's about being thankful THIS VERY SECOND and not losing your mind over what everyone else is doing, saying, or gaining. Being content is a much deeper and better feeling than any material gains or accolades one could possibly acquire in this life. Take a deep breath; be thankful for what you have now and what you've had in the past. Be hopeful for the future, but not consumed with desire and comparison. And, for the love, just. be. you.
And last, the way I say it:
Don't fight your TODAY life! Embrace it, hug it to your breast, live it (from your union with your Lord, of course), and be thankful.
Are you abiding today, dear friend? Have you discovered the freeing realization that you are just a branch? A beloved one, but just a branch, a conduit for the Life of the Vine ... and that's all you ever have to be!
And our Lord's promise is that you WILL produce much fruit! Praise His holy Name!