It’s not something I’m proud of, but I spent too many days not fully abiding in the Vine recently. Honestly, it’s vacation that gets me every time. Not in my normal routine, my time with Jesus, unfortunately, slips to the back burner. Though I had neglected my time in the Word and prayer, the Lord was still kind to teach me.
But before we jump into those lessons, let’s chat about what I mean when I say I wasn’t fully connected/abiding in the Vine. In John 15:5, Jesus teaches,”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” (ESV). In this passage (John 15:1-17), Jesus commands us to abide in Him. I love this definition of abiding from the Journeywomen Podcast, “Do whatever it takes to remain in Him, to stay connected, to continue in your faith”. So, when I say I wasn’t abiding/connecting to the Vine as I should, I mean that I wasn’t doing whatever it takes to be connected with Christ. Yes, I was still in Christ. I firmly believe that once you’re saved, no one can pluck you from the Father’s hand or take your identity of being in Christ. However, in this time, I was not reading the Word and spending time in prayer, which are the means of grace God gives us to follow the command to abide.
So, back to those lessons. Isn’t it beautiful how even when we don’t seek Jesus as we should, He still sanctifies us? That’s exactly what He did for me in this time. Look back to John 15:5. Do you see that word nothing? I am no gardener (seriously, I kill every plant I own), but I do know that if a branch is not connected to its vine, it withers away and eventually dies. It can literally do nothing. That was me when I was not fully abiding in the Vine. I was withering away in a sea of to-do lists and not producing any God-glorifying fruit. In fact, I produced the opposite- impatience, frustration, and worry. It was draining, exhausting, and joy-less.
Another thing I learned in those days? My spiritual tastebuds began to grow numb. When I am in the Word and doing things of Christ, the more my hunger grows for these things. But when I am not, the more my desire for these things grows dull. I make myself too busy tasting the things of this world, and I forget the things of Christ taste far better.
As my spiritual tastebuds grew dull, and I was withering away in a sea of to-do lists accompanied with my less-than-joyful attitude, I knew what I needed to do. You see, no amount of chocolate, rest time, or a long run could change what was at the root of my heart issue. Only being fully connected to the Vine could. So I opened my Bible, even though I didn’t necessarily feel like it. Following Jesus is about way more than a “fluffy” feeling; it goes past our emotions. It’s a daily discipline we do out of a deep love for Him. Some days, we are on spiritual mountaintops, and others, we are not, but daily, Jesus is there, and He is worth following whether our emotions match that or not. The Psalms paint a beautiful picture of this for us! In times of lament, times of joy, and everything in between, we see the psalmists still abiding, pursuing the Lord, even if they didn’t necessarily feel like it.
I found Jesus there that day. This is the beautiful thing about Jesus, His grace abounds. There was no condemnation waiting for me when I returned to His Word (Romans 8:1). There was conviction, yes, but there was also forgiveness, and He lovingly welcomed me back. Friends, He will do that for you. If you’ve gone 1 day or 100 without connecting with the Vine through His Word, just go back. Run back to the arms of the Savior who loves you deeply and simply wants to connect with His children.
Jesus is so good, sweet, and worthy of my time, so I kept going back to Him. The more I went back to His Word, the more He grew my tastebuds for it. Because I was more fully abiding in the Vine, I wanted more things that were of the Vine, instead of the things of this world. I also no longer felt like I was withering away. Were my to-do lists still there? Oh yes, definitely! But as I fixed my eyes on Jesus, the things of this earth grew dim.
Friends, I urge you to fully connect to the Vine. I know life is busy, but Jesus is worthy of your time. He is more important than your to-do lists or Netflix binge. Apart from Him we can do nothing, and I am learning that I can’t afford to not spend time with Him. May the Word of Christ dwell in us richly, so that out of the overflow of our hearts, we will pour forth His Word to others!