by Kendra Broekhuis
It didn’t take a green thumb to see that two of our tomato plants were growing very differently from each other.
One stood impressively tall, so large that the weight of its stem and leaves had overwhelmed the wire cage meant to support it. It was always the first to catch my eye whenever I glanced at the small garden behind our house. The tomato plant next to it was dwarfed in comparison, barely noticeable next to its flashy neighbor’s lush greenery.
But as June and July’s sunshine battered my plants and rain watered them both, it became evident that showy greenery and towering height didn’t matter so much. The smaller plant began to bear fruit.
In fact, it grew so much fruit, that come harvest time, there were tomatoes ripe for the picking every other day. What the little plant lacked in grand outward appearances, it made up for by fulfilling the actual purpose of a tomato plant – producing tomatoes.
When I’m honest with myself, I know there are times I would rather be the large tomato plant.
Like when my life as a mother of three little children leaves me feeling unsung and isolated, or my career as a writer has me longing for the platform of authors much more famous than I. Some days I simply wish to feel seen. But then I remember that no matter how much I am noticed by others, my most important purpose is in bearing fruit.
Jesus fleshed out this concept with a garden metaphor, calling Himself the Vine and His people branches. He emphasized the importance of bearing fruit, for branches that are not fruit-bearing are worthless to a gardener (John 15:2).
And then Jesus gave His disciples the secret to bearing fruit: abiding in Him.
Bearing fruit is not accomplished by focusing on growing big enough to be seen. It means intentionally connecting with God, enjoying His love and keeping His commandments. It means living yielded to the Holy Spirit, who will produce His good fruit in my life, be it love, joy, peace, and the like. It means drawing everything I need from my true source of life: Jesus Christ.
Do you struggle with feeling unseen? Rather than striving to stand out from the crowd, instead may you abide in Jesus. Choose to be a branch that will focus on staying connected to The Vine. It truly is the only place you can truly thrive and bear fruit.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5 ESV).
About the author: Kendra Broekhuis is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. For her day job, Kendra stays home with three of their children and lives as an intentional neighbor in the inner city of Milwaukee. She recently started an online community called Mourning Companion, which is a safe space to lament life’s sorrows. To read more, follow her social media feeds and visit her website at www.kendrabroekhuis.com.
Join the conversation: What have you found helpful to you in learning to abide in The Vine?