Yes, you read that correctly. This Easter will be six years in our home, and we’ve been talking about planting fresh flowers in front of the house for the last five.
Turns out we just needed a few nice sunny March days and the strong recommendation to stay around the house due to a terrible virus to get from the dinner-conversation-stage to the planting stage.
I have always admired ‘plant and flower people.’ You know who they are, the friends who actually know the name of a flower and can tell you when certain things should be planted and when they’ll bloom. The friends who love putting together arrangements and get super excited about gardening and learning new things (Elizabeth, my dear sister-in-law I’m looking at you here). I have always been amazed by these people, and inspired, and a little intimidated by.
Botany is a whole world in and of itself, and it is fascinating. Not to mention, the innumerable times a plant, flower or tree appears in the Bible as a metaphor or imagery or part of a story.
When I decided to stay home with Anna, I was only a few days in when I realized I had more capacity (and desire) to dabble in gardening. So here we are, planting flowers for beauty and joy and a few vegetables for fun and freshness. We’ll see how it goes. But I’m excited.
Beth Moore recently published a book ALL about grapes, vines and the truth found in John 15. Not that I don’t admire, respect and trust Beth Moore, but I honestly didn’t pick it up because she authored the book. I picked it up because I have long been fascinated and rooted in the idea of abiding in Christ. For most of my life of following Jesus it has been one a reorienting passage for me. As in, whenever I’m in a dry or difficult place, John 15 is where I go. Whenever I’m wrestling with my own sin or struggle, abiding is what I aim for. Knowing Beth Moore’s style like I do, I knew it would be exhaustive, so I picked it up.
A few statements from Chasing Vines I am lingering long on:
God’s idea of increased fruitfulness may never be humanly measurable.
Abiding doesn’t mean you’re immobilized. That’s the beauty of Christ turning this metaphor on its head. The vine, which was once the land, has now been supplanted by Christ. That means we no longer abide in a place but in a person. We reside in Jesus. When He moves, we move. When He stays, we stay.
We want to leap with God; He wants to walk with us. Walking transpires step by step. It demands patience. Pacing. God’s directional leading for our personal lives often unfurls in bits of light between shadows. He says His word is a lamp to our feet, which offers us the assurance of arm’s length direction when He says, “Go.”
Following Jesus isn’t just about a prescribed set of rules or a certain set of behaviors. It’s about being tethered to Jesus like He’s oxygen — it’s about being in His presence at every moment. When you’re with someone you love, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing; it’s about doing it together…. We can’t do the works of Christ by human might or by earthly power; we can only do them with the heart of Christ. We produce fruit by His Spirit alone. When you begin to feel lifeless in Him, look for the tourniquet that’s cutting off the life flow. Most often we’ll find it in earthly ties that are cinched too tightly.
Without love, all fruit is plastic. The fruit of our lives, in all its forms and manifold graces, is truest to the Vine when it’s generously extended and accessible to strangers and aliens of any kind.