As I sat tonight waiting for the dehydrator to finish drying apples, I made grapevine wreaths for this winter. Sitting there stripping the vines of their leaves with my husband & then winding & shaping the branches, I was reminded of a passage in John.
John 15:1-9 “I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "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 is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Earlier this week, I helped my mother pull these grapevines from her garden. They had grown up & around her apple tree, and were literally choking it to death. It took all our strength to yank & rip them out, and often the vines came away with branches from the tree literally strangled within the tendrils. As I worked with the still-flexible vines, I thought about how Jesus called himself the vine, and his followers branches.
This is the third year I have helped pull grapevine with my mother, and I can honestly say that grapevines are TENACIOUS... nothing can stand in their way, not even a well-established tree! Wherever I looked, I found a single vine coming up from the ground – supporting & nurturing its branches... and these branches went EVERYWHERE spreading out to surround the entire tree. But as I pulled them, I realized that there were two kinds of branch. Some branches had dozens of tendrils anchoring themselves firmly to the tree – yet these branches were quite short. But other branches would lead out from the supporting vine, breaking off into a dozen or more side-branches, each with their own set of branches just beginning to create leaves of their own.
Rather than anchoring myself carefully to a tree that does not nurture me in any way, I want to put my trust in The Vine and be a branch that creates dozens of new branches, each with their own set of branches. Those are the branches that bear fruit!