Fruit of the Vine, Oil painting by Lee Boynton
Lesson # 3 -- Abiding in the Vine
I could cut up that dead limb, I thought. I'm not a helpless widow.
The next day, I took Lee's chainsaw to Bowen's, our local farm supply store, to have it serviced. "We'll call you in three weeks, the repair man said, handing me the claims ticket.
I passed that fallen limb pulled off to the side of the driveway close to the entrance every day for two weeks when I went to see my father, and thought about tackling that job with Lee's chainsaw. I will teach myself to use that chainsaw and will get that job done!
Then on Sunday, July 9, I was surprised to find someone had beaten me to it. The thin outer branches were strewn around like a set of long-armed jacks, along with 6 or 8 small 10 inch logs. Whoever had tackled the job had taken most of the wood away, no doubt to burn in their fireplace or woodturning stove. God bless them! I knew other opportunities to learn to use the chainsaw would be coming along.
As I was driving down the driveway that evening, and approached the spot where the limb had been, a thought screamed in my mind, riveting my full attention. That dead branch has been cut up and will be burned. "That's in John 15 about the vine and the branches," I said out loud. "God is the Vinedresser."
When I got home, I ran up to my room to find my Bible. I had to read that whole passage about the vine and the branches. What was the Vinedresser wanting to say to me through His living word?
"Let me be teachable, Lord" I prayed out loud. "This is a familiar passage, but clearly You want me to read it with fresh eyes, and to pay special attention to what you have to say about dead wood. That fallen branch had barred the way to my father. What dead branches in me are barring my way to You?"
John 15: 1-8
Jesus said, 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.
Love and Joy Perfected -- John 15: 9-12
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in Him. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.
In the weeks to follow, God answered my prayer. He showed me one big dead branch in my life, and gave me an opportunity to learn to use the chainsaw in the Spirit.
Lesson # 4 -- Living in a Readiness to Forgive