Living on the Vine

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. —John 15:1-4

We’re almost two weeks into the New Year, and have had time to reflect upon what God wants for us this year. As I prayed for the new year, waiting on the Lord, He whispered in my ear, Presence. My presence.  He wants us to live in His presence! To draw closer to Him, in a deep, personal relationship, experiencing His presence.

The presence of God can be a bit scary, can’t it?  It reminds me of the story of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  Aslan the lion is an allegorical figure representing Christ.  One of the main characters, Lucy, asks Mrs. Beaver about Aslan: “Then he isn’t safe?”

“Safe?” said Mrs. Beaver.  “Who said anything about safe?  ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.” 

No, God is not always “safe.”  He doesn’t allow us to remain as we are.  He challenges us to grow and stretch and deal with problems head on. He takes us places we’re not sure we want to go.  But, as Mrs. Beaver said, He is good!  We can trust Him.  We can abandon our fears and go for intimacy with our heavenly Father, because we can trust in His goodness.

I know the world doesn’t seem very safe right now.  All of us feel the uncertainty of change, terrorism, dangerous world issues—and personal struggles as well.  Many of our lives are in crisis.

The answer to that, and to living in the presence of God, begins with the verse above, in John 15. 
Notice, the only responsibility of the branch (us) is to abide in Christ.  All the rest—the pruning, the cleansing, the nurturing, strengthening—all of it is the vinedresser’s responsibility.  And that is exactly what He is doing.  Pruning our hearts through circumstances, hardships, and changes, so that we will draw closer to His heart.

To all who are weary, frightened or unsure of the future, Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” and “Follow Me.”

Jesus is God’s love manifested in human form.  He is the Father’s way of saying, “I love you, I want to bless you, draw you closer to Me, and give you a life of joy, peace, and love.”

May we all cling to the Vine in this new year!