by Afton Rorvik
Several years ago, we tore out the evergreens in front of our house and planted perennial plants and grasses. That means that every winter when they die, the front yard looks barren. By the time May rolls around, we eagerly long to see color and life in our front yard again.
One recent May morning my husband glanced at our front yard plants just poking their beginning sprouts out of the ground and said to them facetiously, “Come on! When are you going to have some color? Get with the program!”
As I’m sure you know, talking to plants did not make them grow faster! They needed time and rain and sun. But by June, we did have color.
We cannot force growth in the natural world, although we sometimes try with various products that promise amazing growth. We can’t force growth in the spiritual world, either, although we do sometimes try the “quick-and-easy” in effort to make ourselves an abundant, fruit-producing person by next Sunday.
But Jesus’ perspective on growing fruit is very different.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8, NIV).
Remain. Some translations use the word abide. The Message says, “make your home in me.” Doesn’t sound like a lot of “doing” after all, does it? Not exactly “getting with the program and getting it done.” It is rather a long-time endeavor, characterized by rest, of staying connected to the Vine.
I recently read a story about John Stott, the former rector of All’s Souls church in London, that so clearly illustrates this idea of remaining and then letting the Holy Spirit do the fruit- producing.
Rev. Stott dearly loved the words of Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT):
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
In fact, he prayed these words back to God every morning:
“Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
In the introduction to his book, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Christopher J.H. Wright (p. 13) comments, “It hardly seems surprising, then, that many people who knew John Stott personally said that he was the most Christlike person they ever met. For God answered his daily prayer by making the fruit of the Spirit ripen in his life.”
Oh, may we learn to remain and let God grow His fruit within us.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NASB
About the author: Part of the publishing industry since 1987, Afton Rorvik enjoys her roles as wife, mother, friend, editor, and writer. She loves shaping words, reading books by contemplative authors, listening to music, drinking coffee with friends, traveling, and savoring the words in her favorite book—the Bible. In 2014 Afton published Storm Sisters, a story-filled book on how to be present when storms hit a friend’s life. You can learn more about Afton and her ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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Join the conversation: What are ways you have found helpful in staying connected to the Vine?