Dead Branches

We had more than our share of storms this spring. It seemed like we had a “Nor’easter” every week in March and early April! While I was walking our dog recently, I noticed one of the casualties of all the windy weather was the trees… there are a lot of fallen branches on the ground.

Now, here is the obvious news–since spring has started to arrive, and the trees are starting to bloom and bud, guess what those limbs are doing? Nothing!

When the apple trees down the street start to produce apples, what will those limbs do? Nothing!

And when the trees start to green out with new leaves, guess what those limbs will do? That’s right, nothing!

Those limbs lying on the ground are no longer connected to the source of life–the trunk and roots of the tree. They are no longer connected to the source of nutrition. When all the trees around us begin to show life at the onset of spring, those dead, disconnected limbs will do nothing but continue to dry out and rot. In contrast, the limbs connected to the tree trunk are full of life.

John records these words of Jesus in John 15:

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

If we stay connected to Jesus, there is life, growth, and fruit. But if we become disconnected from Jesus, there is only death.

Russell Moore put it this way: We become like Christ by following his commands by the power of the Spirit, yes, but beyond that by joining ourselves to his life, to his story, like branches to a vine.  

Those tree branches are on the ground because of the high winds and storms. They didn’t choose to become severed from the life source of the trunk and the roots. Unfortunately, there are too many times when I choose to disconnect from Jesus. I get busy, or become lazy, or get distracted. I let sin creep into the edges of my heart.

Fortunately, there is a whole lot more hope for me than those dying branches lying on the ground. When I fall away and become disconnected from the source of my spiritual life, Jesus welcomes me back just like the Father welcomed back the prodigal son. That is good news for me and for all of us!