Today I did not need to open up the bible to find the verse. Instead, while I was driving to work this morning, out of nowhere these words came to me: “I am the vine, you are my branches.” And the words took hold. So tonight, I opened the Bible to John:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I have heard this verse it seems a million times, but today as I was driving to work it started to make more sense. God has connected us to Him. We are connected just like a branch is to a vine. A branch by itself is meaningless. It is dead with out its source of life (as are we without God). But when we stay connected, we can grow. Sometimes we may try to grow too far away from the vine, but as long as we keep our connection to God, he won’t let us go. If we remain connected, we will bear fruit. God’s love flows to us, just as the water and nutrients necessary for a branch to bear fruit flows to it. And just as a gardener sometimes has to prune or cut back a branch in order to allow it to bear better fruit, so too, God sometimes needs to prune us — to cut us back. He does that with His word, and we can help others by sharing that word — by bearing God’s fruit. And sometimes, maybe, God has to prune us back a little more sharply. And sometimes it feels like it cuts deep. But out of those dark times, if we stay connected, we bloom forward even more beautiful than before and we strengthen our connection to God.
I want my connection to you to grow stronger. I don’t want to be connected by just a little twig. I want a wide base — fill me with your love and your word so that I can bear fruit pleasing to you. I want to remain in you forever.