What is it like to be a branch on the vine? To have God prune the dead wood off of you? To encourage your growth? To have things happen to you that scar your branch and yet you are still a part of the vine? What is it like to be dependent on the vine and its rootedness in the soil? What can the branch do about the nourishment it needs or direction it needs to go in? That’s decided by the overall needs and the nature of the plant. The vine is created so that nourishment will flow from the roots through the vine to the branch, to the very ends of the branch. All is communicated along and through the vine.
If you are a branch on the vine, every need is filled. Every scar healed. Your direction is set in your creation. The branch will flourish because it was made to flourish on this earth, given the right circumstances. All that is no longer functional dies off. Or the leaves and fruit and flowers come and go depending on the plant and the season. The Gardener who takes care of every plant and animal, working to bring about its highest self, prunes away what is dying and no longer needed.
The branch and the vine [John 15:1-7] is a beautiful metaphor for what happens in the life when we are so attached to Christ that we can no longer see/feel/notice the difference between the vine and the branch. Where did that thought come from? From the branch in the vine. Where did that purpose come from? From the branch in the vine who is in God. All our needs are met. All that is dying off in us is let go of. All that deters growth is gone. The Wielder of the pruning tool knows just what we need to thrive, to become the best self that we can be. And so, what we need is provided to us.
It is to the connectedness to God, that deep connection to God and the commitment to align ourselves with His will, that this metaphor in John 15:5 speaks. It is, a union, if you will, of Christ, God, the Holy Spirit and us, a partnership whose basis is God and His love for us. He wants to participate with us in all that we do. He wants to lead us where the next best step/lesson for us will be learned, where we will give all our gifts and talents in serving God and mankind, where we will find fulfillment and blessings and grace.
That we are the branches and He the vine is another way of saying, “My yoke is easy, my burden light [Matthew 11:28ff]. We no longer have to worry about where our next meal is coming from or will there be enough money for retirement or whatever else we need. Jesus is meeting our needs as they arise. We can count on that. In everything the branch’s needs come through the vine.
If we don’t have the deep connection to God, then we are like an unattached limb with no source for our needs and no connection to our roots. We are ungrounded and afloat on the great sea of life. We will cling to whatever comes along and do not see the value in clinging to God and our own created nature. We are lost and at sea until we choose the rootedness in God. To be a branch on the vine of Christ is to be deeply rooted in God, provided with all we need, loved and forgiven, purposeful and fulfilled. What is not to love about that?
We are not passive in our role as the branch—we do what branches are made to do—show off one aspect or more of the nature of the plant. We produce leaves, flowers and fruit. We bare ourselves for winter, we blossom in the spring. We follow the natural course of our nature. And we are rooted in the vine itself, in the Earth, too, for nourishment. But our identity comes from Christ in God who tends our very selves and helps them grow to their best expression of the plant that we are a part of.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I a branch of the vine that is Jesus Christ and deeply rooted in God? Where is my identity rooted?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are a branch on the vine, Jesus Christ. May we all be deeply rooted in God who provides for all our needs and the direction of our lives. May we express that rootedness in the world.
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My book, “Exodus: Our Story, Too!” is available on amazon.com under my full name, Patricia Said Adams. Here is quote from a recent review: “This book was so great on so many levels. I couldn’t put it down. I read it through the first time and will read it a second time reading scriptures with it as she provides. Very well written. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit inspiring her to write this book.”