“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener… 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” (John 15:1,4).
This has always been such a beautiful passage of Scripture to me. And as I grow in my faith, experiences, and move forward in this journey, it becomes even more REAL to me.
As many of you know, my stepdad Clay passed away almost two years ago. The last year of his life, as he knew of the cancer in his brain and the unknowns of his future, he never faltered in his faith. He actually grew stronger as, in the end, his mortal body grew weaker.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says,
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
In this world, near and far, there are countless “unseens.” Sometimes it is easy for our minds and hearts (feelings/emotions) to be overtaken by the loss, sadness, and many other things that bombard us. I am so thankful (and oftentimes tearful) for the many people in my life who have portrayed these verses in their life well. Some that I want to acknowledge, who are no longer with us here on this earth) are:
Clay Hibben (my stepdad)
Roger Litwin (my uncle)
Vicki Quinn (a dear friend and mentor for many years)
Linda Jones (Mark Shafer’s sister)
My stepdad, Clay, often mentioned John 15, and especially in the last eyar of his life, he had an urgency to share the Gospel, to share the faith and love he had in Christ. May we all who claim to follow Christ share in this urgency to pour out our lives as offerings/sacrifices to/for Him, so that others, too, may experience the supernatural renewal and eternal life we all have access to.
All of this began to come to my mind as I sat here shucking/shelling beans. I wasn’t raised in the country (and many times feel this was a disadvantage! Ha!) but my love for it (and now for the jungle) had begun to grow several years ago. How great is our God, who is so amazing, creative, and allows beans to grow in pods, that we may later remove and use to sustain us! I have never been the most patient individual, but now I enjoy sitting for a few hours taking beans out of pods and dividing them up according to color/variety/species! Only God creates such beauty and richness.
“He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills”
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens!”
Read John 15:1,4, again.
And, continuing on, it says,
“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…”
(Just as the beans cannot grow apart from the pod, nor the pods apart from the branches).
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: ‘Love each other as I have loved you.’”
God loves us and calls each of us to love others; we cannot do this unless we remain in him. We must seek his face, known Him more, follow Him. And the best part is He first chose us:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last…” (John 15:16).
Sometimes we just need to be still and know He is God (Psalm 46:10).
Sometimes we just need to acknowledge Him and trust (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Sometimes we just need to sit back, shell some beans, and rest in Him.
“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you”
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”
Just like there are a lot of beans to be picked and shelled, there are thousands of people of all ethnicities and tongues who are living (and dying) without the hope and knowledge of Christ. We all need to join God’s team and share our lives and the Gospel with others!