“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.
We have patches of wild blackberries that grow around our property, but the hedges are thick and the multitude of thorns thwart a lot of our picking and greatly limit our harvest of berries to not much more than a few handfuls. So when a friend offered us some thornless blackberries, we were ecstatic! We planted them on the edge of our modest garden and tended the small plants carefully, learning how to prune them so they would yield the best crop of berries. It took a couple years , but last year big beautiful berries began to form on the vines! We were so excited! As we continued to carefully tend the plants, the berries grew and began to ripen. It looked like we were going to have a bumper crop of berries! But a few days before we anticipated the berries being ready to pick, one long vine studded with clusters of berries started to look a little strange. Instead of being a lush green color it started to turn a gray brown color. The berries on that particular vine that were once plump and shiny, now began to wither and look rather squishy. We gave the garden a good dose of fertilizer but nothing helped. That one branch continued to decline, and we resigned ourselves to the fact that there would be fewer berries than we had hoped. Upon closer examination, it became clear that the particular vine had been broken and was no longer fully attached to the main plant… a casualty of our dog running wildly through the garden. Plain and simple, the vine could not survive on its own and the berries were lost.
How true of a picture that paints of today’s verse for our very own lives. We can put lots of hard work into living well. We can even have the best of intentions. But no amount of hard work will produce lasting, good fruit if we become disconnected from God in the process. The health of my berries was dependent on actually being firmly connected to the main plant. The confidence we move forward with in life is directly related to our dependence on God as its source of strength. Disconnected from God our confidence in our own abilities is bound to eventually wither and fade.