I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
I took on too much and fell into a depression. I
walked ran boldly forward with intent to bring heavenly Love to others by loving and encouraging through the gifts God has given me. I seek to bear fruit–something nourishing for others and delightful to God. Yet, my desire to please my Father and to please others crashed into each other, and I fell.
I’m trying to get back up, but I am real tired. Depleted.
My desire to please is not for others to be pleased with me, but to be pleased in their own lives–to feel happy or hopeful or validated or affirmed. When people need help, I want to help; when people need love, I want to love; when people need someone to understand, I want to understand. Hear me well when I say, I do not need nor do I desire recognition or credit, but rather to remain camouflaged in the backdrop while God takes the spotlight.
I pray (a lot!) for people–strangers, friends, family–and I always ask God to give me the words to speak and write in a way that lets people know He’s got them–that they are Loved and Protected– even if they aren’t believers in Christ. I ask Him to help me be a good deliverer and steward of his message.
Yet, I never ask if he has a message for me to deliver–a word of encouragement or an act of love–and if so, then to whom. I run on the assumption that everyone who is on my heart or crosses my path must be there because God needs to me encourage them.
The problem is I run. I come to His feet in reverent prayer and then I take off running. I have this irrational sense of urgency to hurry up and love–and love well. I need to be fast enough and good enough in order to bear the good fruit–the fruit good enough to be pleasing to God and fruitful for the lives I am trying lighten.
In my haste, I run ahead of God and become emotionally invested in every person I meet; I look over my shoulder and ask behind me, “Hey Lord, what would you like me to say to them? How can I love them? By the way, thanks! They have taught me a lot.” In my eagerness to lift up essentially everyone, I forget that I am not God. I don’t have the power or the stamina or the emotional capacity or spiritual insight to serve everyone and bear fruit for the whole vineyard. I am not the Vine. I am but a branch! Without God, the true Vine who serves the entire vineyard, I. Am. Nothing.
Romans 12:3 says “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
I used to think this verse meant “don’t get too big for your britches,” and in a sense I think that applies; however, I see now how this might mean not taking on more than what God is asking me to handle. I am only equipped with so much, so far– I only have a certain measure of knowledge and wisdom; I only have a certain amount of energy and stamina to extend. I am a child, a young branch in the eyes of God–still growing, still tender, still small.
When I run ahead of God, leaving him behind, I cannot do anything. The fruit I seek to bear will not grow. So now what? Here I sit, on my knees in front of Jesus, humbled again in my humanness–with a load of mess that I created for myself–a multitude of commitments to honor whilst committing to my children, husband, true friendships, and not to mention–myself.
John 15:1-2 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
I don’t believe the Lord is cutting me off, for while in my depression friends from whom I’ve retreated have told me how much they love me; strangers of whom I’ve held at a distance have told me I’ve blessed them; my children and husband of whom are the most precious to me and bear the burden of living with a woman in constant motion have told me how much they love and honor and trust me, still.
I am being pruned (and it’s really uncomfortable)–cut back to where I can see the Vine, reminding me that I am not the vine; all He asks of me is to bear the fruit upon my branch. The only way to bear the good fruit (and to know how to fix my mess) is to grab Jesus’ hand with the same reverence with which I pray, and let him lead me through the vineyard–showing me whom to learn from and whom to love and whom to serve.
**The photos in this post were from my trip with my husband to Ste. Chapelle winery in Caldwell, ID. I refer to this place as God’s breakroom. It was here that God so tenderly answered my prayer for a wise and humble heart while giving me a moment to breath and to enjoy acres of flourishing vineyard.