~~Then this message came to me from the LORD: “Son of man, how does a grapevine compare to a tree? Is a vine’s wood as useful as the wood of a tree? Can its wood be used for making things, like pegs to hang up pots and pans? No, it can only be used for fuel, and even as fuel, it burns too quickly. Vines are useless both before and after being put into the fire! Ezekiel 15:1-5
Last weekend, the kids went to the lake with my brother and his family. I drove down later to join them for a weekend of boating and camping and skiing.
It’s nearly a three hour drive, so I used the time to pray and listen to the Bible. I’ve been reading through the Bible, and I just happened to be in Ezekiel. It’s easy to get lost in some of the prophetic readings…especially if your mind tends to wander WHEN you aren’t looking at the words.
But these words captured my attention:
“Vines are useless…”
I’ve read this passage many times as I read through the Bible, but I had never really read this passage. I found myself captivated. Stopped in my tracks. It has been a ponder that thought long and hard kind of moment.
What made those words jump out at me?
I am also going through the Experiencing God Bible study. I completed it years ago, but I’m in the BLAST mentoring program with Shannon Ethridge right now and it is one of our assignments.
And I am again being reminded just how God works.
How we can do nothing by ourselves.
How God is always at work around us.
How God reveals what He wants to do to His followers.
How we are called to do only what the Father tells us to do.
How He pursues an intimate love relationship with us.
How we face a crisis of belief when God calls us to something.
How we must adjust our lives to join Him in His work.
How we experience God as we walk in obedience.
And how we can do absolutely nothing without Him.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. John 15:5-6
There it is again. Have you ever wondered why God didn’t say He was the tree trunk and we were the branches?
Because, according to Ezekiel 15, the branches of a tree can be used for something. Is a vine’s wood as useful as the wood of a tree? Can its wood be used for making things, like pegs to hang up pots and pans? (vv 2-3).
Last weekend at the lake, I had two of the girls back at the campsite while the boys continued to play in the boat. The girls and I gathered up wood to use for a fire so we could roast hot dogs. I’m not very good at starting a fire, but I knew I needed some small branches for kindling. I would get them set on fire, but I couldn’t get the fire to spread to the larger logs. The kindling simply burned up too quickly.
And that’s what scripture teaches us about vines. They burn up too quickly to be useful for fire. It isn’t strong enough to make anything useful. It is completely useless.
So why did God choose to use the analogy of a vine in John 5?
Because just like in Ezekiel, we are useless.
We cannot do anything on our own.
Anything we try to do will burn up and be blown away like chaff.
Our best efforts are not worth anything in the greater picture of the Kingdom.
No matter what we attempt, it will be worth nothing.
The only way our efforts will amount to anything is if we are directly connected to the Master Vine. Abiding in Him. Seeking to walk in an intimate love relationship with Him. Finding out where He is working. Not trying to get God to bless our efforts, but joining Him where He is already at work. Adjusting our lives to His plan. Trusting Him even when we have a crisis of belief.
I don’t know where you are on this journey, but I know the first step is one of surrender. Surrender your will. Surrender your heart. Admit you don’t know where God is going, but you will follow no matter where He leads. Ask Him to take whatever it is you are facing and use it for your good and His glory.
Admit to Him that you are useless without Him.