Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

John 15:4

Clip it.  Sweep it.  Bag it.  And repeat. 

That's the story of my life about every six weeks or so.  You see, I have the strongest and fastest-growing ground cover in the history of the world EVER growing on my back patio.  It truly is "ground cover gone wild!"

The English ivy and Asian jasmine vines start from behind the fence and creep through the cracks and also come up from the ground underneath.  They've grown up the sides and have actually covered the fence quite nicely and given me something green to look at when I open up the patio doors.

But these vines can also be a little high maintenance, as they are so quick to cover everything.  I trim them, and they seem to come back even stronger.  They're thick, lush and they can overpower the cement flooring and create a "green carpet" effect in no time flat, which is not what I'm looking for in my exterior décor.  So needless to say, I spend a lot of time pondering and minding my ivy and jasmine.

As I was trimming away recently (hopefully the last time before winter slows them down), I noticed some of the stray vines that I had pruned in previous weeks.  Because I hadn't cleaned the clippings out very well, they were stuck in between the growing vines that had not been cut. 

But they weren't really that hidden.  Between the glossy green leaves of ivy and jasmine, I could easily see the dull, brittle vines that had been clipped and were now withered and an ugly shade of brown.  And when I reached in to pull them out, they practically disintegrated into my hand.

I thought about these vines recently as I looked at my little pocket-verse pack  that I keep in my car and read John 15:4—specifically the first part of the verse:  "Remain in me, and I will remain in you."

If I remain connected to the vine, I will be like the lush ivy and jasmine on my patio.  Each individual vine is still connected to its main root source which is planted deeply into the fertile soil.  They are thriving and are ultimately making my patio a beautiful place.  I know I complain about how fast they grow, but I really do enjoy looking at them and appreciate the beauty they bring to my little world.

Seeing them side-by-side with the dead vines, though, is quite a stark contrast.  And I imagine that that is how God sees you and me.  Either he sees us as a vibrant part of the vine or we are virtually lifeless. 

In John 15, Jesus went on to say more about the importance of what being connected to "the vine" means for believers:

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is 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 given you.  This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:5).

Now that you've read that, which branch would you say that you are more like?  The one that is thriving and "bearing fruit" or the one that is withered up and ready to be burned? 

Think about that today.  And as winter draws nigh and you see nature changing all around you, let that be a challenge to you to remain in Christ so that your faith will not grow dormant. 

Intersecting Faith & Life:

What can you do today to stay connected to the "true vine"?  How can you remain in the Lord?  Get growing and let God cultivate you so that you will bear fruit that is beautiful and a reflection of him.

Further Reading:

John 15:16

Galatians 5:22


**Listen to the audio/podcast version of this crosswalk devotional here.