The Upper Room devotional reflection for Friday, July 1, 2022 comes to us from Kathryn Jones Malone of Texas.
1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.
John 15:1-9 NIV
“The Vine that Bears Fruit”
When my husband and I moved to the countryside, we wanted to plant a vineyard and make small batches of wine. So we consulted a local winemaker who recommended varieties of grapes for our climate; we carefully planted the vineyard; we set out a drip line, constructed support wires, and pruned the grapevines. We worked for five years but couldn’t get anything to grow. The grapes would form then wither in the summer heat.
Along with the grapes, we also planted a couple of blackberry bushes. They loved the soil, the water we lavished on the vineyard, and the climate. Before long, we had rows of productive blackberry bushes. One summer we harvested 200 cups of fruit! Eventually we let their vines take over the grapes. I realized how much life is like our vineyard. We make plans and envision a future, but often we encounter God in the unexpected – in the blackberry bushes. If we stubbornly stick to our plans, we may miss the opportunities God places in front of us.
I am not a gardener, but I can certainly relate to Kathryn Jones Malone’s reflection. I can’t count the number of times in the last several years that I have made a plan and then worried about how a particular program or lesson would turn out. Sometimes those were in my control and sometimes they were not. Then, through no influence of my own, whatever I was concerned about turned out to be successful in ways that I could never have imagined. And I saw the hand of God at work.
I believe that it’s important to remember that this approach does not mean that we can stand back and do nothing. Instead, it is a call to remember that we are called to do our best and trust God to do the rest. I invite you to think about your own experiences in which you have worked hard at something, and God has intervened to show you a more perfect outcome.
Dear God, thank you for your bountiful gifts. Help us to see your guiding hand at work in our lives so that we can know that you are the true vine and our source of life. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
I gain perspective when I let go of my plans and look for God.