I’m still pondering all things green, as “green” is April’s word prompt and it is still April. April here is living up to its promise of gifting the world with green from the ground up, reaching even through the treetops. Everywhere I look there is some shade of green. Things are coming back to life, neighbors are coming out of their houses, while the sun shines a little warmer than it did in March. Sunlight and chlorophyll are working their magic right before my eyes.
Many flowering trees and plants are in bloom now, adding multiple colors against this green backdrop of spring. Occasionally I will notice a tree branch that stands out from the others because it isn’t green or flowering – but looks like it did in the dead of winter. When I take a closer look, I realize there is a reason for this disparity. I see that the branch is no longer completely connected to the trunk of the tree. It may be hanging precariously or laying against other branches who are supporting its weight. From a distance, the dead branch may appear to be connected, but proximity doesn’t guarantee connection. The branch has to be perfectly, completely connected to the trunk to receive all the life-giving nutrients the trunk provides its branches.
I notice the same thing in bushes and flowers, where amid the green and the blooms, there is a not green, not blooming section that looks out of place amid so much green, so much life. When I look closer, I find that they are no longer securely connected to the main stem of the plant or to the vine. Just yesterday I gave a potted plant to a friend with five lovely pink blooms on it and more waiting to bud. But when I presented her with the plant, I noticed one of the flowers was drooping down and I discovered its stem was bent. I realized that it would only be a matter of time before this pink blossom turned brown and its leaves and stem with it. The connection wasn’t totally severed, it was hanging on to the main stem at just one point, instead of being completely connected. Without complete connection the prognosis wasn’t good.
Which brings me to the vine, whether it be morning glories or grapes, such abundance can grow from just one vine! I walk by some beautiful morning glories which completely cover the lamppost around which they grow. The deep purple flowers are so large and lush, they are all I see. The vine from which they grew, the vine which even now sustains them, is not visible. But each blossom is connected to the vine. If not, they would wither and die.
In vineyards, vines heavy with their abundance of grapes, continue to support the grapes, supplying all their needs until they are ready for harvest. Only if the vine dies, will the grapes lose their lifeline and die along with the vine. That’s what the vine is to the grapes and to the morning glory flowers – a lifeline.
We all need a lifeline, a vine, in order to survive in this life – someone or something that sustains us, nourishes us, provides for us, keeping us alive through any drought or difficulty that may come. Turns out there is a lifeline that never dies, a Vine that is eternally green. I read about it in John chapter fifteen, when Jesus tells His disciples,
“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that withers and is thrown away; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:1, 4-6)
Vineyards were common in Israel in Jesus’s day, just as they are today. So Jesus’s disciples would have understood His meaning clearly. In fact, earlier, Jesus had told them this,
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Jesus came to bring life to a dying world. Jesus is the true Vine, that gives life to every branch that is connected to the Vine, which is to say connected to Jesus. That’s why He instructed His disciples to “remain in Me.” Jesus knew apart from Him they would perish, just like grapes dry up when they lose their connection to the vine.
Jesus is the eternally green, life-giving, life-sustaining Vine. I want to “remain or abide in Him” so that I am not cut off from His continuous supply of all that I need to live this life. These are His good gifts, which include His mercy, wisdom, guidance, comfort, peace, hope, joy, meaning, purpose and so much more, which He bestows like the manna He provided in the desert, new every morning. It is an infinite supply – this Vine never runs out or dries up.
“His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness through my knowledge of Him who called me by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
It’s like the article about pumpkin vines said, “Without healthy vines, pumpkins would never reach their full potential.” A pumpkin vine grows, supports and sustains some pretty big pumpkins! Well, Jesus made it clear that “apart from Him, I can do nothing” and “apart from Him, I perish.” But when I abide in Him, remaining connected to the Vine, I will reach my full potential. I will find the purpose for which I was created.
Jesus, the Vine, is more than able to give life to any and all who choose to abide in Him. As Jesus told His disciples, “apart from Me you can do nothing.” But, as I read in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him (Jesus) who gives me strength.” Whether I am separated from or connected to the Vine, makes all the difference in whether I live or die. Life on the Vine is so much more abundant than anywhere else. This is where I want to be at all times – hanging on and completely connected to the Vine. As it says in Acts 17:28,
“For in Him (Jesus) I live and move and have my being.” The result? The result is described in Psalm 92:12-15,
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.’ ”
staying fresh and green, productive, purposeful, bearing much fruit, that’s life on the vine, that’s life abiding in Jesus, the true, evergreen, eternal Vine –
sincerely, Grace Day