Hanging On

This morning, our family visited friends in the Imperial Valley, an agricultural area about two hours east of us. My husband, David, had the privilege of spending six years there as a pastor’s kid, and he maintains many of the relationships he forged there. One of those was the couple we visited today – David’s youth leaders!

Along with some great stories of pre-teen David, the kids got shooting lessons and sage advice. We also got to see several dozen date trees. I had never seen a date tree! Or maybe I had, but I just called it a palm tree and didn’t realize there was fruit beneath the fronds.

But there is fruit. A lot of fruit! As Gary picked one off the branch, he bit it to show us the inside – it looks a lot like an apple, but with a pit like a cherry. I asked if we could eat one. He laughed and said, “You don’t want to eat one yet! They aren’t ripe. They need another month or so before they are ready to be harvested.”

The he showed us one that had come loose from the vine. It was a putrid shade of greenish-brown and looked shriveled and sad. This one, Gary told us, broke away too soon. It’s not sweet enough to eat, and it can’t be placed back on the vine to receive the nutrients it needs. So it just has to be discarded. It’s no good.

I thought of the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Jesus was speaking to folks who understood agriculture: they knew just how necessary the vine is – how absolutely impossible it is for fruit to develop apart from it. As I looked at those dates – the ones holding firm to their source – I understood this parable in a way I hadn’t before.

I began thinking, how often do I pull away from my source? How often do I try and look for solutions to a problem that can only be repaired by hanging on to the One from whom all strength resides?

Thankfully, our amazing heavenly Father doesn’t resign us to withering away and being tossed out when we pull away from Him. He grafts us back, if we are willing. Through His grace, He weaves us back into Himself, He pours life and hope into us, He matures and strengthens us.

I’ll be honest- some days, I just want to let go. Holding on seems hard. It seems pointless. It seems exhausting. I begin to wonder if life wouldn’t just be easier if I did it my way. But the reality is, when I do choose to let go, I shrivel up. I become sour and ugly and useless.

The reality is, I need the vine. I need Him because He has resources I don’t have and I can’t manufacture on my own. Through Him, I get strength to endure. Through Him, I get courage to face difficulties. Through Him, I grow.

Apart from Him, I can do nothing.

With Him, I can do all things.

1 Comment

  1. Keilah
    Jul 7, 2017

    Love the lessons you teach!!!

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