“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:1-8)
This section of scripture has always been so beautiful to me. The picture given of our God as the vinedresser who so intentionally takes care of and provides for us has been what I have clung to throughout this past year. I love that it shows us that like a branch we need only do what we were designed to do in order to bear much fruit. A branch has no other purpose than to receive from the vine and produce fruit. This too is true of us. We have been created to bring glory to God. In a fast-paced culture of complexity and busyness, it has always brought me such peace to find the simplicity of the Gospel and the willingness of our God to give so freely and graciously to us if we abide in Him.
What does abiding look like?
Abiding enables us to grow and produce fruit. So how do we do it?
Abiding can look like many things, but I want to stress the importance of abiding as surrender, and that in order to surrender we must first open up our hands. The problem is surrendering in our culture usually means that we lose what we have. The general idea is that we give up and lose what we have worked so hard to get and cede those things over to someone else. Our loss, their gain. In God’s economy, however, surrendering leads us to receive.
My daughter Freya is two years old now, but when she was younger our family meal times were absolutely electric. Food everywhere, utensils flying, you get the picture… There was a season in time where she had just transitioned to eating solid food. She was so excited to be able to use her hands when she would eat that she would grab a piece of food, close her hand around it and forget that it was there. The best part was that she wouldn’t open her hand back up again to see it was still there, but would ask for more food even though she wouldn’t be able to pick it up. She loved holding onto that piece of fruit or cracker so much so that she wouldn’t open her hands and enable herself to pick up another. My wife and I would have to remind her often that though we would love to give her more, we physically couldn’t place more in her hands until she let go of what she was currently holding.
Surrender means opening up our hands
We have to let go of what we’re clinging to in order to receive from the Lord. This list for me tends to be the things I think I know best about… sometimes it’s my position at work, my relationships, my finances, etc. Often these are all things that He has explicitly given! But the Lord can’t give us more until we let go of what we have, surrendering each item to Him to do whatever He will with them. It’s in this surrender we show our trust.
Now this can be scary! What if what we give up isn’t replaced, and instead we are now just lacking? If we’re honest with ourselves, our ability to trust God shows what we believe about Him. If you, like me sometimes, find it hard to trust and surrender that He’ll provide, it means we don’t trust Him at His word. It’s in these moments I’m reminded that it’s often hard to trust someone I don’t know, and in these seasons I need to commit more time to learning about Jesus, His character, His kindness, His love, etc… He invites us in. He desires that we would abide in Him. Let us as the church stir one another on to do that together!
Zach Reynolds is Worship Director at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. If you’re a worship leader interested in getting involved with Village Hymns, please email [email protected] or visit our website at villagehymns.com/get-involved.
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