“If you abide in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” – Jesus
We have never lived close to our parents since we had children of our own. Visits from grandparents were a special treat that always seemed to end too quickly. We would frantically try to catch up, and with small children there was always a new word, step, stage, or quirk that needed to be shared. Bless our parents hearts, the first hour was like a feeding frenzy of little sharks – “Watch me Papa!”, “No, watch me NaNa! Watch what I can do now!” Visits resembled a competitive version of the game “Show and Tell”. Most of what my children were dying to show their fresh audience were things that fell into the category of “I can do it all by myself!” . It was all reinforced by thunderous applause and pictures being snapped to document their unbelievable abilities. Accolades like, “I’m so proud of you!” and “I can’t believe you can do that all by yourself!” was all the affirmation needed to fuel their “show and tell” mentality.
Growing up, developing independence is healthy. So thankful that we are past potty training at our house! We had two in diapers three different times while raising our children. Our budget and my sanity are thankful that my children can now care for themselves when it comes to … Each milestone of their development was exciting and celebrated. Now, with teenagers in the house we find ourselves experiencing moments of sadness as we think about their independence leading them away from us soon.
I heard a man from Sudan speak to our church once saying, “It’s amazing what the church can do without the Holy Spirit.” He meant that there is a lot we can do on our own with our own resources and our own plans. We can hire a great worship leader, a gifted speaker, build a beautiful facility, and provide great programs. People will come for those alone. Yet, this man from Sudan had none of that at his disposal and his church was growing. He wasn’t slamming our churches that are blessed with resources; he was simply stating that on our own, there is a lot we can do all by ourselves, yet he went on to share the amazing things that only God can do. When God does “Show and Tell”, we are hushed and amazed and quit asking for a turn. When it’s God’s plan and God’s power at work through God’s people, it’s crazy good. He promises to do more than we ask or imagine, right?
I have been reading and rereading a passage of scripture from the book of John. It’s the words of Jesus spoken to his disciples right before he was arrested. Soon they would not have him walking among them and he wanted his dear friends to know his heart and their future before he left. He knew these independent men with prideful hearts and distracted minds. So he repeated himself eleven times. One word repeated eleven times that went against their very nature as human beings.
Depending on translation, the word “remain” or “abide” appears eleven times because Jesus wanted them to get it. If these guys truly wanted to be used by God, to live in the joy that only Jesus could bring, then they had to learn this one thing. How to abide.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
Nothing. That’s how much we can do without him.
Jesus used a vineyard to help us earthly people understand a spiritual truth. He is the vine; the source of life. We are the branches that spring from him, spreading out in each direction to bear fruit. Sure, we could devise a plan and set out to change the world, but without staying connected to Him, his life, his strength, his plan flowing through us, there would be no lasting fruit.
It’s all about the abiding. The relationship. The dependence on him. He’s not interested in our “show and tell”. He is asking us to join him in his amazing vineyard that he already planted. He already has plans for the fruit. He desires connection. He desires you. We are not little children any longer, wiggling in our seat with our hands raised to go next. Yes, God has given us gifts and talents but he is asking us to submit them to him in his great show.
As John wrote, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
I’m ready to see what God can do. I know what I can do on my own and it’s not that glorious. I am not the show. It’s time to put my hand down and hold his. He’s all about the abiding, the remaining, the connecting. When we are abiding in him, we become a part of his fruitful vineyard. The fruit is a byproduct of the relationship.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
Are you tired from trying so hard to do something great for God? Good, he just wants you anyway. Just abide. The fruit will come from his life flowing through you just as life flows from a vine to its branches. Be still and know.