vine picture


Many Hearts Walking Together

John 15:1-8

©Lisa C. Farrell

Jesus says that he is the true vine and we are the branches. He also says that we need to be pruned, and we need to do this strange thing called “abiding.” Neither sound like much fun, especially since it’s hard to figure out what’s involved.

To prune a grapevine involves cutting away dead wood. But how does that translate to me? A vinedresser (that’s gardener to the rest of us) has to cut away the unproductive parts of the plant, because if he doesn’t the plant pours all its energy into something that has no point. Leaves look great, but they’re all for show. The real deal is the fruit.

Left to itself the plant would hang on to all these branches and become overgrown and unhealthy, and that’s exactly what we do. We try to hang on to things that have long ago served their purpose and now just use up time and energy. God has a better plan for us. Anything that drains our energy but produces nothing has to go.

But we hate to let things go, don’t we? For those of us in 12-step recovery we’ve already had to let go of the drug or the drink that we once put our faith in to keep us duct taped together. Now we have to make other changes? You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

But many of us, in recovery or not, cling to destructive relationships that aren’t going anywhere. We hang out with friends that we no longer have anything in common with. There are things God wants us to let go of, but we hold on because we are afraid of the open space that would be created in our lives.

Of course God also adds insult to injury. Even the fruitful branches, the things that are working in our lives, must be pruned. We don’t like that at all. We’re quite happy with being adequate. The pain required to become excellent is too much. Can’t I get away with mediocre? But when we surrender our will and our lives to the care of God, we begin to change without knowing it, because as soon as we do, we begin to “abide” with God.

When we abide with God we live with God and God lives with us. At a meeting this week I heard a woman describe it perfectly when she said, “If I heard that God wanted to hang out with me, I would want to hang out with that God. I would want to tell God everything that is going on in my life.” And as odd as it may sound, that’s really what abiding means. God wants to hang out with us.

Not all things should be held on to. Even good things have a time and a place, and once they have served their purpose, we need to let go. When we trust the gardener to prune us we are free to grow.


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