Abide in Me
“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5.
My mom has worked and owned her own landscaping business for more than 25 years. What started out as a love for making things look beautiful has turned into a serious art form of crafting beautiful landscapes. She amazes me with her knowledge of plants, which plants thrive in the shade versus the sun, when to plant certain things, when to prune and cut, and when to let things run wild. Last year she planted a peach tree in my backyard and she’s been patiently tending and nurturing it so that it’ll flower and produce fruit. A couple of weeks ago the tree was leaning almost on its side because the trunk couldn’t take the weight of the top branches. My mom came and trimmed the tree so the tree would flourish and grow how it was designed to grow.
In all of the years of witnessing my mom hone and perfect her craft, I’ve also had a front row seat to understanding in a deeper way John 15, particularly, what it looks like to remain on the vine and be deeply connected to the life source. In the first 11 verses of John 15, the word “remain” or in some translations, “abide,” is said 11 times. It’s like Jesus is trying to tell us something!
Remain with Him.
Abide in Him.
This is not just a suggestion but I believe the true remedy to the tiredness, burnout, and exhaustion we feel in society. Coming back to the very source of life is not a cute idea, but a promise that if we remain, we will have life. If we desire to have any impact in this world or to use our gifts and talents, then we must realize that nothing lasting will happen apart from Jesus.
A peach on my tree doesn’t randomly grow on the ground not connected to a branch. You cannot trick or talk a tree into producing fruit.
A lot of people I talk to have big dreams and visions for bettering the world and bringing the Kingdom of God in this world, but when asked about their daily prayer life, there’s nothing. That’s not a critique but a question if our desire is to enjoy the fruit rather than Jesus Himself.
Plants also need very little to survive. They need three basic things: sunlight, water, good soil. Anything else is just extra. The same holds true with holiness and living a life of discipleship. We need very basic things: to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31). That’s it. Some of us want to add onto this because we think that’s too simple. We think if we pray just the exact right prayers, go to all the retreats, listen to the exact right podcasts, say enough Rosaries, then somehow we’ll be more loved by God. While there can be benefit from intentionally positioning yourself to receive more of the Lord in your heart and soul by doing these things, those disciplines are not the end goal. They may help you grow in your discipleship with Jesus and bring us deeper into connecting back to the life source in the vine; however, the end goal of those disciplines should be resting and abiding in Jesus.
Reader, wherever you are right now, once again, Jesus is asking you to come back to Him, connect back to the True Vine, and come back to life.