John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV 2011)
Last fall, a friend gave me a flourishing dipladenia plant, a beautiful flowering vine. She was reluctant to abandon it outside, but she had no space indoors. My living room already houses several plants, but how could I refuse those exotic blooms?
Carefully removing the plant from its large pot and keeping its roots intact, I replanted it in a smaller one, and made a spot for it in front of the window. I was thrilled with this burst of brilliant colour and praised God for unexpected blessing.
Some leaves turned yellow and fell off. This might be expected as it adjusted to its new environment. I noticed that its many new buds were not opening, just turning brown. Still, new shoots continued to appear. Was it healthy or not?
I misted and fertilized. Before long, I saw clusters of tiny thrips (insects) at the tender growing tips of those new tendrils. I squished them gently between finger and thumb. I separated the plant from others. A few days later, more bugs. I doused them with soapy water. Next, I tried rose powder. The battle was on. Soon, I had to bring out the big guns — pesticide — a step I hate to take, but the enemy was winning.
With the bugs wiped out, my plant valiantly struggled on. New shoots began well but were weak; tiny leaves appeared and then withered. Most plants do well under my supervision, but here was a challenge! I wasn't ready to give up on it. I tried less light, more light, then a sulphur treatment. I did everything that I could think of to baby this sick plant along. With an overseas trip coming up, I decided that if it succumbed while I was away, only then would I discard it.
I fully expected to find a dead plant upon my return. Coming home, I was surprised to find it alive — though still not healthy. There is no happy ending here — yet. But I persevere.
God doesn't give up on us either. He always gives us a second chance, always encourages us. Like my plant, we can't do life on our own. We need a helping hand. Upon our salvation, we're grafted into God's family. Like a branch of the vine, Jesus Christ, we need His life-giving sap — the Holy Spirit.
Without the sap, we're weak, and the enemy will soon move in. At His baptism, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and was strengthened against the devil's temptations. That same Helper can empower us. We may be content to struggle along, and we might even think that we're doing okay, but we're not useful to our Lord if we don't blossom and bear the fruit of the Spirit.
God has a plan for each of us. That's why He created us at this particular time and place. Let's ask Him to pour His Spirit into our lives today, so that we can fulfill His purpose for us.
Colossians 2:7a – Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him. (TLB)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the vine and we are the branches. Without Your Holy Spirit indwelling us, we simply can't flourish. Anoint us with Your Spirit today, and fill us to the brim so that we may be strengthened and fruitful for You. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind" (Lyrics)