By Kathy Johnston
A couple years ago, I had a huge tomato plant. I carefully planted, watered and fertilized this plant over the course of several months. I had grand visions of plump, red tomatoes in my near future. Eventually my little tomato plant grew huge! But, unfortunately, it wasn’t producing very many blossoms… Except for one branch that had a few tiny, little tomatoes. So you can imagine how sick I felt one morning when I went out to check on my plant and discovered that somehow the branch with the little tomatoes had broken off. I knew there was no hope of saving it since it was no longer attached to the vine, so on to the trash heap it went.
Lately, this importance of “staying connected” has really struck a chord with me. For even as my tomato branch needed to stay connected to the main vine, it is vital that we must stay connected to the Father.
I was also reminded of this today through the stories of two different women that I had coffee with. Both have been through some really gnarly stuff, and yet they both shared the same thought: that their connection to the Lord- through the Word, meditation and prayer- is what sustained them. Jesus told his disciples in John 15, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
The idea of the vine and branch is to convey a continual attachment…not just a once in awhile thing. The definition of “abide” is “to remain, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, endure, to stand”.
Jesus clearly wants us to know that we desperately need to be continuously connected to Him…and without that connection, there is no life, no fruit and no hope. The branch cannot survive apart from the life giving vine, and neither can we. The question, then, is why do so many of us think we can go through life not staying connected to Him? We live like we can exist on our own terms. We act like we don’t need to take time each day with God. We go days and weeks without spending time in His word or even talking with Him and then wonder why life is overwhelming and crushing us. Often, the only time we come running to Him is when we are in trouble.
One last picture remains in my mind with this thought of staying connected. I absolutely love the wraps that moms use these days to carry their babies. The babies are firmly wrapped all warm and snuggly right next to their mommy’s chest. There is absolute security and safety as baby is firmly bound to mom as she moves about, the soothing sound of her heartbeat, steady and comforting. What a beautiful picture of how connected we should be to our Father. Closely bound to Him, hearing his heart and knowing we are safely abiding in Him and He in us. There is no safer place to be.
I don’t know about you, but that’s where I want to be. Bound closely to the Father’s heart, connected firmly to the Vine, abiding in His love, obeying His commands and bearing much fruit.