When we moved into our new house this past year, a fun surprise was the very healthy grape vine growing on the front porch.
A few weeks ago, it was overgrown so I pruned off some branches. It was a hot day, and I noticed that within minutes (*minutes*!) the branches started to wilt. And when I came out later that afternoon, they were toast. I gathered them up and tossed them in the trash.
"Oh!" I thought "that's what the Bible is talking about!" I've heard the reason for the agrarian lessons in the Bible was because it was an agrarian time, and so people immediately got the associations. (duh). But I am intentionally keeping myself from any agrarian contact right now because I know they'll just be filled with dead plants and weeds as high as an elephant's eye.
In John 15:5, Jesus says "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned.… "
So I thought I'd try again and take some pictures. These are some of the branches I pruned away the other morning. The top picture is what they looked like at 7am, second picture is around 11am, third picture down is 3pm, and then the last picture is what they looked like at 3pm the next day.
Just a day of being off the vine (and this was actually a cool day), and they die. It makes total sense, but was powerful to watch happen.
And that's what Jesus is saying about us - just a few short hours away from Him, and we stop producing fruit. We stop living.
That feels kind of overwhelming. We have to abide in Him every second? Yes, that's exactly what he says...
And in the time since I did the first pruning, I'm realizing how true that is. Especially in these days of a small person shrieking from the moment that they wake up that they want gum, and rearranging my whole week, and switching childcare three times, only to have a [potential] client cancel a meeting. (With actual clients, I have more social capital and can set better boundaries and generally not meet at times that don't work for me. But with potential clients, I tend to be as flexible as I can... even though I might start shrieking myself from contorting myself into such odd schedules). When I feel like I'm disappointing friends, or I'm disappointed by them. When I feel like I'm disappointing my husband, or I'm disappointed by him. When I end up losing a potential client and worry that my business might never come to fruition.
On the days that I'm abiding in God - spending time in the Word, praying continuously, listening to praise music or challenging podcasts - I can roll with those changes much easier than on days when I either don't spend time in the Word at all, or when I just do it for a few minutes in the morning and expect it to hold me together throughout the day. There are some "cool" days, when the heat of life seems to be turned down, so I start to think "eh, maybe I don't need to be with Him *all* day" but then the sun comes back out, and life heats up, and I'm burned to a crisp because I wasn't attached to the vine).
Basically - I have to have a line-in with God all day long (my branch, His vine), in the midst of helping my children get dressed, helping my clients grow, being present in my marriage. When I cut myself off from the vine, I'm like that bottom frame up there.
Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour. - [questionably] attributed to St. Frances de Sales