Posted: 1/18/19 at 3:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
Are you tired of spinning around in circles?
Did you make New Year’s resolutions that are already broken?
Do you feel like time is flying, by but there are still so many issues and dreams left unaddressed?
I no longer have years to waste in wishful thinking or pointless efforts; do you? Knowing what we need to do—and actually doing it—are two different things.
We know in our hearts that living right and accomplishing worthwhile things requires commitment and discipline. We need a ruling principle to use in making decisions and priorities. We need a guide to keep us growing straight and in the right direction, the same way a vine needs a trellis to guide its growth.
While living in Idaho, I dabbled for some years in growing grapes, which seems like the wrong place to try to grow grapes. I soon learned that different conditions influence the quality, number, size, and potential use of the grapes, especially in the high desert of Idaho. But originally I planted grapevines in order to grow a living wall to enclose my backyard deck.
I was hoping for shade and protection from the wind and sun, not trying to harvest grapes. I accomplished my goal within several years and had a fully enclosed green-light-shrouded deck. The deck and sliding glass door were shady in summer, and the sun shone through into the house in the winter. Surprisingly, I also harvested more grapes than our family could eat.
At the start of this process, I guided the vines to climb up the deck’s skeletal structure and intertwined vines with the vines beside them. When the vines reached the top of the deck, more than eight feet tall, I guided them to grown along the beams which went across the deck like a ceiling. In the end, grape clusters hung down from the beams above and grew along the “walls.” It was a beautiful sight to behold!
But without a structure to grow on, the vines would have become a mess. With a path laid out for it, and the vine being nurtured to grow in that direction, then pruning and watering was all that was needed to maintain a wonderful room of living foliage.
This process is an illustration of a helpful strategy in guiding our own lives. We need a life principle that can operate as a structure or trellis to keep our lives growing in the right direction, towards the goal. Jesus provided that trellis for us when he said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
This verse reveals that Jesus is the grapevine, and we are designed to be his branches. The principle is that we need to stay connected to Jesus in the same way a branch has to stay connected to its vine, so that he who is our source of energy and truth can give us what we need to grow.
Following the vine-and-branch spiritual metaphor: I can’t make grapes grow, be juicy, or mature. I just need to stay connected to Jesus, so that he can accomplish the fruit production through me.
My life is simplified as I spend some time each day reading the Bible, connecting to Jesus, and allowing him to direct me throughout the day. As he moves into a new segment or area of life, I move there also, because my life is connected to him. My task is to abide in him and to remain livingly connected to God all through the day. As I do this, God provides all the things that produce growth and fruit in, and through, my life.
Why not give it a try?
Watch what God will do in and through your life. The rule: Jesus is the vine, not me. He sets the agenda and direction, and he gives me all I need in order to be and do what he asks me to be and/or do. If we are not connected to him, we become dead branches, accomplishing nothing.
The guiding rule is staying in open communication and conversation with Jesus all through the day, moving in the direction he is leading. Be where Jesus is, letting his life fill you and work through you each day in every scenario. As we do this, Jesus says we will produce much fruit!