“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.” John 15:4
Sometimes I like to imagine that I am a good gardener, I think most people who know me are aware of my affinity for plants and flowers. I love that they are alive, that they are inherently beautiful, and that they produce fruit. However, my ability to keep plants alive does not correspond to my love for them. I like to blame my kids; often I have a little one, someone who likes to pluck off leaves and blossoms, who turns planters over and dumps the dirt all over my patio, my exasperated efforts are thwarted and my thumb seems black indeed.
Whatever my good intentions are, they often fall short. I am thankful that when Jesus expects fruit and beauty to flow from my life He promised that all I have to do is “abide” in Him and He will produce it. I know this truth in my head, but I often find myself switching over to “produce” mode; I want people to see Jesus in me, I want things to look the way they are supposed to. When my eyes are focused on myself and my own ability I find myself losing sight of Jesus. Like Martha who was “busy with many things”, frustration and resentment are sure to follow. Finally, when I bring my exhausted soul to the feet of Jesus he gently reminds me that there is a “good thing” that can be chosen instead, Mary’s choice to sit at Jesus’ feet would be a testimony forever that the lasting fruit is truly in abiding in the rest of Jesus.
What does it mean to abide? Simply to rest, to continue, to stay. Sounds simple, but so does the verse, “If we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh,” Simplicity doesn't mean there is no difficulty. Thankfully, “there is more grace, therefore He says, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble”. Ultimately, its my pride that says I can produce anything by myself, my human nature that thinks that independence from God is worth something. Jesus promised rest to the weary, while at the same time saying that we must take up a cross and follow him. The cross implies an end to myself, to my will, and to my ways.
As I said before, I want to look the way God expects me to look, but I am only going to produce beauty and life if I am continually aware that I desperately need Jesus, and that anything good that flows from my life is from Him.