We Are The Branches // John 15

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 15:5 NASB

If I do nothing else with or through this blog, I just want to be honest with myself and my readers. Sometimes my honesty may be a bit too much, especially for people who "know" me in real life, but I believe that God has put something in me that enables me to share things -- real thoughts and feelings -- that others may be afraid to share, or maybe aren't able to clarify. 

I don't want to be fake here, pretending to be someone I'm not. I don't have all of the answers (in fact I have very few), and I'm not always full of wisdom and joy and sunshine and happiness, and I want this blog to represent me authentically. I have a very strong aversion to anything less-than-real, and I believe God's given me keen spiritual discernment, particularly in the case of inauthenticity. That is to say, I'm judgmental, even when I'm trying hard not to be. Even against myself. I think especially against myself, which is why my posts are rarely ever the "go get 'em, Tiger, you can do this!" type. In other words, if I don't feel like I'm being real and honest in a post, I will probably not publish it.

I prefaced this particular post will all of that because I wanted to say that this post is late by my standards, and to be honest it's because I didn't know what to say or how to say anything in regards to this chapter in John. As I read chapter 15, my mind and heart were kind of all over the place. I wasn't focused, and I had to go back and re-read twice before my spiritual ears and eyes were actually opened. 

I have been struggling -- HARD -- with comparison and jealousy lately. I see how well others do things... how well they parent, how well they "wife", how well they letter and paint and journal in their bibles, how successful their blogs are, and how quick they are to get their own shop open to sell hundreds of the same thing I've been dreaming of selling for about a year. I see others lifted up with words of encouragement, while I feel like the player destined to warm the bench for the rest of her life. Waiting. Always waiting.

So when I was reading and trying to hear from God in John 15, deep inside I was envious of allofthepeople and allofthesuccesses. It's no wonder why I couldn't find the words to write -- my words were all full of bitterness. 

Then this morning God helped me realize that although He gets no pleasure out of it, He's allowing me to feel this anxiousness and defeat because through it I am learning -- more and more and again and again -- just how much I need Jesus. God also helped me realize that while I'm walking (or waiting) through my own desert, He may provide me with words or inspiration that will help someone else navigate the way through their desert.

But what does any of this have to do with a vine and branches?

If Jesus is the vine and I am a branch, then words and creativity are my fruit*, and the Father and vinedresser has been pruning me. 

When you envision or look at a grapevine, the color and beauty -- what draws you in, I think -- are the grapes. The fruit is what is beautiful, and the fruit is what is useful. That is not to say that the vine and branches are ugly or unnecessary, it's just to say that the purpose of the vine and branches are to bear fruit. The vine must be there, as the structure and base, and the branches must be there, as additional structure and strength, in order for the grapes to exist.

So while I'm sitting here, waiting and wondering when it will be my turn, I'm not even considering the fruit I'm meant to bear. I'm thinking only of myself, the branch, and am forgetting my purpose, which is to bear fruit.

I've been selfish. I've been jealous. I've been bitter. And while through these things I've still remained dependent on Jesus, it's been only for my benefit. I've been selfish, jealous, and bitter, and have prayed, "Jesus, when will it be my turn? I have been waiting and waiting, and nothing is happening. I need you to help me get things moving along," instead of, "Jesus, I'll wait like you did. Because the Father keeps telling me to be patient, I will, but I can't by my own strength. I need yours."

My fruit -- my words, my art, my worship -- will be rotten and useless if I'm not an effective branch. And I can't be an effective branch without the vine, and a bit of pruning.

 
The only way we can play a significant role in the kingdom of God is to allow Jesus to live His life in and through us. While apart from Him we can do nothing, in Him we can do anything He calls us to do.
— CFSLPB

*While John 15: 1-11 is mostly referred to (in my experience) in order to encourage one another to make disciples (the fruit representing people), remember that everyone's fruit will vary. Grapes are not the only fruit. People are not the only fruit we may bear. Your fruit may be music that speaks to hearts; your fruit may be words that give freedom, art that inspires, serving others and pointing to Jesus, raising children to know Christ, etc. I believe that through loving acts and through sharing our spiritual gifts with one another, we are bearing fruit, even if we haven't necessarily picked out one particular person or a specific group of people to disciple.