I grew up in south Georgia surrounded by a vine that was lush and green with fragrant blossoms. It also grew like wildfire and was practically impossible to destroy.
Some of you are nodding in recognition and others are ignorant of the scourge of this beautiful vine. Evidently, at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the Japanese brought kudzu to their pavilion and the U.S. Soil Conservation Service came up with the bright idea of promoting it as the answer to soil depletion and erosion during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Which was all fine and good until it took over everything in sight and became “the plant that ate Georgia.”
Though they can be a huge nuisance, vines are also incredibly strong. Kudzu has a tap root that grows down twelve feet and the vine itself can grow as much as 600 feet a year. The only way to destroy it is to go underground and cut off the crown root. Whether or not you like kudzu, you have to admire the reach of this vine.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, called himself the True Vine and on the long walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, He spent his final conversation with his disciples telling them an allegory about how they as branches needed stay close to Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4
He called the process ‘abiding.’ Which is the same thing as dwelling. In fact, this command to abide was so significant that this word is repeated no less than eight times in John chapter 15. Abiding in Christ is living out our union with Him in faith, baptism, love, obedience, and Eucharist. This image of vine and branches reveals that life flows from the Vine to the branches, indicating that our abiding in Christ is not static, but dynamic and vitalizing.
“Jesus invites us to an intimate, fruitful and ecstatic life in His home, which is ours too. Jesus never stops telling us where to make our true home, what to look for, and how to live. He said over and over again ‘Make your home in Me, as I make Mine in you.’”Henri Nouwen
But this is an ongoing process. Once and done is not enough. In New Testament Greek, the word abide is a present imperative verb, indicating continual action. We must be grafted into the vine for a lifetime.
Pastor Mark Batterson says “We cannot do something for God if we aren’t with God.” And he elaborates with five reflections of the meaning of abide:
- “To stay overnight – Sometimes we need to press into the presence of God a little longer.
- To hold fast – Every time we pray, we gain a position in the spiritual realm.
- To stand still – Sometimes we must stand on the Word of God and trust His promises.
- To be moved – We cannot abide in the Word of God and not be moved to action.
- To tarry – We must tarry in the Word of God and engage in prayer.”
Do you want to be fruitful and strong, and maybe even take over the world with the fragrance of Christ? Then, stick close to the crown root of the Vine. Nothing can touch you there.
Benediction: My child, cling to the Source of all the nutrients you will ever need in order to flourish in life. That’s your Vine and I’m here, attached to you all the way. I will give you strength and you will bear fruit. All you need to do is stay close. Abide, dear one.Lucinda Secrest McDowell in “Dwelling Places”
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit bring you comfort and strength, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2021 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
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