The Identity Crisis of a Misaligned Branch

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If one remains in me and I in them, he or she will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.”

–John 15:5

During my time in undergrad, I visited an oak tree at my favorite hiking site almost monthly.  There, I would breathe, pray, and run away from my collegiate world of preconceived, landscaped arbor. Wild trees more effectively capture the glory of God, as their roots claim ground and their arms reach high.  Yet I was saddened one day in September of my junior year to see that my oak had been cut down. Many trees were cut down, including my tree: the tree where God showed me He exists; where He continually stripped me of fear and pride; where I’ve prayed relentlessly for my family; where He taught me the importance of loving purely; the tree where He sifted my heart, and I fought Him with vigor.

Fast-forward three years later to this past summer, when I prayed to God to show me how to live.  This is a dangerous prayer for a woman who loves control. Within two and a half weeks of that prayer, all things caved in. I went through a break-up that neither party wanted.  I was in a life-threatening car accident.  News of cancer shook my family.  Yet in it all, I experienced a God so concerned and deeply invested in my best interests, despite anything that I found good for myself.  These things hurt, but I felt alive, raw, and move-able.  It was like I had to die these tiny deaths to truly begin to live.  I didn’t know that before praying this prayer I was too often claiming the position of the vine, making Christ a branch of myself.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If one remains in me and I in them, he or she will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.”

When He is the vine, the Holy Spirit can work as the sap from the roots of the tree, serving as the lifeblood to propel the growth of its branches.  When I am the vine, I hinder the work of a God who so greatly wants to use us to bear fruit.  Anything I could temporarily produce ended up rotting- my relationships, my stability, my sanity, and my sense of invincibility.  Yet in His humbling grace, I was awakened.  He showed me through a break-up that He is my First Love and biggest captivator of my heart.  In my accident, He kept me alive and safe amidst a heap of metal that probably should have killed me.  Through bad days, cancer, turmoil, divorce, miscarriage, addiction, and pain, the true Vine nourishes its branches.

I again recall those trees on that September day three years back. Not only were they cut down, but they were also completely disregarded - unused, dormant, rejected. Those trees had been chopped and strewn about as if by beauty’s own bully. I often feel like removing myself as the vine and accepting my intended place as a branch would be like claiming ground and reaching high, only to be cut down and strewn about. 

But we don’t serve a bully. 

We serve a Redeemer; a God incarnate whose heart understands our own; a Suffering Servant, mocked on our behalf to pay the price for compassion on His; a Vine in whom we as the branches can truly flourish as a means of Kingdom Come.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If one remains in me and I in them, he or she will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.”

To pursue His will requires full trust in a God who can use me like He used that unknowing oak during college.  Even today, that broken tree was an instrument for my heart.  Undeservingly, Christ brings beauty to severed trees and severed souls.  Surrender takes work, and yet is the one thing that will truly keep us afloat.  In this season, my prayer is for us to take our rightful place amidst the Vine.  May we grow tall and reach for the sky with full assurance that fruit bears in His name and by Him alone.

-Erin Drews // @drews_barrymore

Delight MinistriesComment