The picture of a branch always trying to stay attached to the vine is strange isn’t it? My friend Brian Coatney has used this illustration before of a branch lying on the ground struggling to climb back to its position in the tree. If we see our lives this way we will forever be climbing, straining and failing. On the other hand if we see ourselves as truly already joined to the vine we find rest.
I for one have come to the place where I believe what Jesus said in regards to the vine/branch imagery. The vine is the responsible one here not the branch. Yes, we do have a responsibility to continue receiving from the vine but we, by no means, have the ability to hold on; that‘s the vines job. He’s the keeper not me.
Just to continue with this vine/branch picture imagine how everyday life goes for the branch. The branch begins the day just hanging on the vine. Soon it is awakened to something apart from the tree and wants it. As a man it may be a beautiful woman walking by and the flesh awakens. Now I can do one of two things. I can follow my outer fleshly pulls and cravings or I can direct my attention to the vine or Spirit within. This is how it looks everyday. I’m a branch and as long as I am resting in the life giving flow of the vine I’m bearing fruit. If, on the other hand, I get distracted and go with the outer I will inevitably find myself in trouble. The reason is because, even if only momentarily, I begin to see my branch-self as independent of the tree, I fall. This is because I mistakenly start to see myself as my own keeper which is impossibility.
Each and every time I start to feel a tug on my branch self the solution is to look to the vine. We look to the vine, or Spirit within, for everything rather than take on the temptation as if we can actually overcome it independently. This false idea of independence is the root of deception. It’s as if Adam’s whole trouble started because he began to see himself as independent and able, apart from God, to do good and avoid evil.
I shared a story with the guys in jail recently along these lines. I remember shortly after being born again I had a craving to smoke pot. My thoughts were I could go out that kitchen door right there and probably find some with no problem. Even then without my understanding the Spirit of God taught me a lesson. Somehow I was directed to my Bible and I just started reading. Maybe 30 or 45 minutes later I had forgotten all about the pot. You see what happened? God was teaching me how to look to the vine for a solution. Rather than stand at the back door struggling to overcome the desire for pot He replaced it with a new desire to draw near to him. This I believe is a Spiritual principle that works on every temptation.
Psalm 121 tells us “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” So you see our only hope is from the Lord. For the vine/branch analogy it would be something like this. “I will lift up my eyes unto the vine, from whence cometh my help” but you get the point.
Written by Louie