As I write this I am sitting at a local winery. Out under a tree in a comfy chair, overlooking the nearby vineyard, it is amazing how quiet it is here. The traffic, sirens, construction noise and voices in the nearby city are gone. It isn’t that nothing is happening here – the vines are actually, as I watch them, producing a variety of grapes that will later be harvested and pressed into some fine Virginia wine! In spite of what is actually being accomplished, there is no apparent movement, no sounds of stress or groaning, no evidence or sweating or trying hard. The vines are simply abiding.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:4). I want to bear fruit. I want to stop stressing, groaning, striving and trying to do better. So, how do I abide?
The grape vines are abiding. They are staying connected to the source, taking in the water, sun and nutrients that are available to them and graciously yielding to the pruning shears of the husbandman. The fruit is not “work” or “effort” for the vine, it is just a natural result of the growth that comes from abiding.
Why is it so hard for us to abide? We don’t understand grace. Our relationship with God, connection to Him, His presence, His Spirit in us, His truth, etc. are all gifts, they are all grace. For some reason, we tend to believe we still have to “do” something to make it work, not realizing that it has all been done (It is finished… sound familiar?). I can REST in the finished work of Christ (didn’t Jesus say He would give us rest… not a job description?).
So stop it! Stop striving, stop groaning, stop trying to complete “the list” you have concocted in your mind (or some Pastor put in your head). Settle down into this relationship with God. Marinate in His presence. Soak up His truth and grace. Allow the Father to reveal what needs to be pruned in your life and then just surrender it to Him. You know what will happen? You will grow! And growth will produce fruit (love, joy, peace, etc., ). Abide.