When my family and I first moved to Tennessee, I was thrilled to discover several grape vines on my property. With glee, I looked forward to my little vines producing grapes and I dutifully weeded around them in expectation; however, they did not produce that year. Thinking they needed fertilizer, I told my sons to empty the chicken manure around the vines when we cleaned out our chicken coup. The next year, I had longer vines, but still no fruit! Around this time, my little Levi started picking the vines up and weaving them into the nearby fence. He did this to protect the vines from the lawn mower.
The next year, something wonderful happened! The vines that had been taken away and weaved into the fence, budded and produced grapes. The ones on the ground still languished in unfruitfulness. You see, a grape vine will not produce fruit unless its branches are off of the ground. Encouraged by this growth, Levi and my husband built a grape arbor. The vines grew off of the fence and over the arbor. By late August, heavy bunches hung from the underside of the arbor. With joy, I harvested my grapes and canned plenty of grape juice and jelly for the Winter months.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
Growing up in a law-based church, I listened to quite a few sermons on this text. Each emphasized the importance of bearing fruit for God’s kingdom. Consequently, I believed if I did not lead enough people to Christ, or work hard enough for the church, an angry God would “take me away” from the body as an unfruitful branch. I had to actually grow my own grapes before I understood what these verses really meant.
You see, God takes us away, but not in wrathful judgment. He lifts us up from the dirt and “chicken manure” in our life. Then he supports us with his love like our fence and arbor supported the branches of our grape vines. As we lean on him and rest in the sunshine of his presence, he makes us fruitful.
My friend, do you feel like you are accomplishing nothing in your Christian walk? Stop trying to make yourself fruitful. That’s not your job – it’s our heavenly Father’s. Focus on his love for you. Fill your mind with scriptures that tell you of his love. Rest in the redemption Christ provided. Soon your love tank will be filled and his love will overflow out of you. Isn’t that what a fruitful Christian is, someone overflowing with