John 15 1, 7-8: (Jesus said): I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.7. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
(Vanessa had asked that I divide this inspiration into two pieces for ease of reading and thinking on. This is the continuation of the inspiration that started with the story of the Eunuch in Acts. To recap, both of these lessons, the story of the Eunuchin Acts, and the parable of the vine and the vinegrower were read in church on Mother’s Day and were the source for the entire Inspiration.-Vicki)
It seems appropriate then that the image of the vine that Jesus uses in the Gospel followed the lesson of this hungering soul, the eunuch of Acts. Jesus compares himself to a vine, and the Father to the vinegrower. He compares us to offshoots from that vine, and that those who bear fruit, are cared for, pruned and allowed to flourish under the Father’s care and constantly fed by the main vine which is Christ. We cannot live or exist in Christ apart from his sustenance. “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, but apart from me you can do nothing.” I listened to the verse, understanding again the lesson that in Christ lays the answers we all look for and yet hearing these words as if for the first time and with new understanding. The minister in his sermon used many present day examples to drive the point home, and then asked this question, attempting to tie the two stories together. He allowed that angels, still work in this world, though we probably shouldn’t expect magnificent winged creatures blazing with light to guide us. But, he said, be attentive to the little things and then look inside to test it. He pointed more than once to an area on his torso, between the heart and stomach and peered at the congregation, how do we know it is the Spirit he asked, tapping that region on him self. He didn’t need to provide the answer, for we know where God resides. It is there in our heart that we find not only God abiding in us, but us abiding in God. The lesson was very clear, but my hungering Spirit wanted more.
When one goes out on a journey that might be on a path that would seem new; perhaps by the “experts” of our day to be…forbidden; one wants to be sure that their chosen path is correct. I want to believe that this ministry call I feel so strongly is true. I found myself as the Pastor tapped his heart wanting to shout out, how can we know and trust that “gut” feeling. I am a seeker filled with too many doubts at times, still wanting to believe that it doesn’t matter what I choose to wear, or who I find fulfillment in love with, or even that the body I was given does not match the person that I am. I want to believe that God is not judging us on that. Still the path I am on, the people I seek to reach out to and be reached back to by, are seen by so many as unworthy of God’s love and acceptance. I know many in this community struggle daily with this side of themselves and reject God, because they feel God has rejected them. So I wonder if I might just be wrong and that “they” are right. I formulate the words and want to ask, How can I be sure this is God and not my own selfishness, or my own agenda. It seems even as the words are hanging in the air, “those who abide in me” I am forgetting them. Even as the pastor taps his chest, I am questioning my own heart.
Yet, the words stay, the words hang until they can penetrate and take root. I let go of the doubt, look to Jesus, and allow myself to abide in Him, and the fruit begins to flourish. I give up my own agenda, I allow the vinegrower to prune as necessary, and wait for the fruit to appear. God is wise enough to know, if I saw the perils of the journey, I would likely just stay at home. If we knew what lay ahead, joys and sorrow, trials and triumphs, most of us would likely just decide it wasn’t worth it, and choose to live the way we are expected to. But He provides us with the assurance we need. The fruits of our labors would be proof enough. In these first weeks, I’ve found so many of you willing to share your thoughts back to me, to encourage me in small yet important ways. I hesitate to use the term, loaded in our present day world with such negative connotation for people like us. But there it is, you are my fruits, the assurance that Jesus abides in me, and that I am finally beginning to abide in Him. Maybe better to say, you all are my angels, visiting me and pointing me to new paths, all the while giving me that sense of peace that I am on the right path for me. I give thanks to you and I give thanks to God for you all dear readers, and will stay on this path, even though doubt assails me at times. I will strive to remember in Him, we have our strength and purpose and it is in Him only we need seek approval.