i found myself working side-by-side with my grandfather in his garden last saturday. it was a sunny afternoon and i had some extra time on my hands; a perfect opportunity to give back to a man who has given more to my life than I could possibly describe here.
after some time spent tending to his potato plants, i noticed several piles of clipped branches spread throughout the garden. the clippings looked fresh, the branches still very green, as if they had been recently snipped. while my grandfather was making his way back to the house, i offered to pick up the clippings.
and as i began picking up the snipped branches, their leaves only beginning to show death, a passage from scripture came to my mind, and it’s been lingering there ever since.
the Vine and the branches
i remembered very clearly a story Jesus once told His disciples. it was a story where He referred to Himself as the Vine, and He referred to His disciples as branches. but what instantly came to my mind while i worked away were the words: “remain in me, and I will remain in you.”
these words echoed through my mind as i picked up the snipped branches, filling my hands until they could hold no more, and then tossing them over my grandfather’s fence into the neighboring blackberry bushes.
i then remembered what followed in that same Bible passage. something about those branches that did not remain in the Vine, and how they would wither before being gathered together and tossed into the fire. and all of a sudden this passage, one that i had read many times, became so very clear to me. as i cleaned up my grandfather’s garden by gathering these dead branches together and tossing them to their final resting place, i soon realized the importance of remaining in Him. and how far i seemed from Him at that point.
He wants to hear from you
it was at that point i realized how very little time i’ve given in recent weeks to just being with Him. through prayer, through time in His word. and i realized that although there was still very much life left in me, particularly to the outside world, there were also signs of withering around the edges of my life, and this urge of Jesus’ to remain in Him was exactly what I needed most.
it sometimes amazes me that the creator of the universe, the maker of everything we see and everything we have yet to discover, would even care to hear to my prayers. and yet He does. He does very much. that’s exactly what he’s saying here, “remain in Me.” why? so that He can remain in us. so that we can have life.
at another point in His ministry, Jesus also said, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)” and it seems to me that He’s making the same point here. that, only with Him do we have fullness of life. and that without him, we are, in effect, dead. whether we realize it or not. and, unfortunately, many do not.
how to remain in Him
i sometimes picture my relationship with Jesus as that of a friend who lives far away. far enough away that i’m never going to run into them during the course of my everyday life. that i must go out of my way if i want to speak to them.
having spent my first year of college away from home, and then transferring closer to home for my last years of college, this analogy works very well for me. i know now what it takes to maintain a relationship with such friends. it takes a phone call every once in a while. sometimes it takes a drive. but, either way, if you are to maintain such a friendship, there must be communication. if not, the friendship will certainly wither, as there is nothing there to sustain it.
in the same way, if i am not ‘picking up the phone’ on a regular basis to call on Him, that relationship withers. and as do i.
the two ways i know to ‘remain in Him’ are : 1) through prayer, and 2) through time in His Word. i am not sure exactly how it works, but it is at these times that i feel closest to Him. that He speaks directly to my life. and it is when i go without either of these two things for an extended period of time that i feel the withering of my own life.
“remain in me, and I will remain in you.” that’s His promise, that if we only call unto Him, that He will make His home in us, and He will bring life.
it’s very real, i promise you that. and, if you let Him, He will bring life to a withered soul.