This past Sunday morning, it seemed the Lord wanted me all to himself; desiring my undivided attention. I felt moved to stay home from church, instead heading out into the yard to do some clean up, before the blazing heat made it unbearable. In the warmer months this includes pruning a clinging vine that grows along one of my fence-lines. There are actually two separate types of vines growing there: a pretty, delicate, fruitful one which has tiny tendrils that cling to neighboring strands, thus giving them a harmonious growth pattern that spreads along the fence. It also provides a nice barrier to the neighbor’s house! The other is a woody, invasive vine that climbs up trees like a snake and attaches itself with a deathlike grip. It wraps its strong arm through the fence holes and pushes its way through the delicate vine, manipulating its way inside…almost as though trying to hide from view.
Taking down the more tenacious of the two vines takes a bit of muscle and determination. I often have to attack it from the top, starting with some poor unsuspecting tree branch it has wrapped itself around. Then carefully cutting it away from the fence, as it normally is so entwined, the fence bows. It takes precision to avoid cutting both the fence link and myself as I carefully pull out as much of the invasive vine as I can find. I also try not to cut out too much of the more precious vine. Normally this means I must untwine its tendrils from the woody vine. This takes both patience and perseverance. I do my darndest not to destroy it in the process. A process that can take over an hour and normally results in loss of skin and bodily fluid (sweat).
After I had been at it for a while, I experienced what I hoped was the Lord striking up a conversation with me (it seemed to be). He was telling me how sometimes in life we get caught up in situations similar to these vines. Where there is a delicate vine who lovingly holds onto the vines around it, not realizing that sometimes the neighboring vines are trying to control and manipulate the fence. By the time the delicate vine realizes what has happened, it is difficult for it to untwine. God showed me that there is a situation in my life where this has happened. He told me it is necessary for me to untwine myself from the woody vine enough to not yield to0 readily to its reach. He showed me, as I was gently untangling the tendrils of the fruitful vine that it’s okay to still reside next to the other vine, but to let go of old dead vine.
You see the woody vine strangles everything in its path until it is weakened and dies. Then it is easily pulled off of what it has grown onto. This allows new strands of the delicate vine to spread; it has been given new life because it can breathe easier as not to worry about that old pervasive vine. The new vine that comes forth is beautiful and worth waiting for.
Now, I was out there by myself so I was having this conversation out loud, asking questions and responding to Him as though he was there alongside me, working. These are sacred moments to me! My heart shifts during these moments. However, this particular conversation was not easy for I didn’t really like what He was showing me. In fact, it affected me greatly over the past couple of days as I prayed for confirmation that this was what he wanted. I asked for scripture to back this up! And today, on my drive into work (it is Tuesday), he delivered.
I listen to Moody Radio in the mornings and I really enjoy Chuck Swindoll‘s program. This morning I tuned in a couple of minutes into it; as I listened intently my mouth suddenly went ajar when I realized what he was talking about: pruning vines! He was in John 15, verses 1-11:
“1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
I heard my loving Father, answering my call for confirmation of our conversation. He loves me so much and wanted me to receive the fullness of his message, to help me understand something I must do. I am to untwine myself from another vine so that I am not affected by its current nature, until what time I sense that enough of that old vine has withered away that I can allow myself to stand fully beside it, with the ability to trust its direction.
God is pruning the vine from its present state, in order to make it more fruit bearing and less invasive. (Until I can trust that it is abiding in Him and He is abiding in it.) That is not only showing myself the love that I so need while also still showing the other “vine” love so it can grow into, and learn to wear, the newness of Christ abiding within. I am to await God’s handy-work to be more complete, while still tenderly caring for both sets of vine.