How do you rest in Jesus?
In John 15 we read: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.”
Any gardener knows that if you want your tree (or in this case vine) to bear really healthy fruit, you need to trim it. If you just let the plant go wild, growing all over the place, it will get tall and bushy, but there won’t be healthy energy going to the branches to produce good fruit. In a sense, the plant is overwhelmed, spread thin, and ineffective. Why? Because it’s too busy!
A gardener prunes branches and throws them in his fire pit for a friday night hangout with his friends not because he is cruel, but because he knows what is best for the plant and for the fruit that he wants to see. The gardener wants the plant to produce MUCH fruit. This is his or her goal.
I recently read that for three years a grapevine needs to be pruned back because even though it can produce fruit the branches aren’t strong enough on their own to hold the fruit and will, then, snap from the weight. For all I know, modern technology has a way around this, but in biblical times, they wouldn’t allow a new vine to produce fruit for the first three years. They wanted it to rest, get stronger, and then - once it was ready - it would bear fruit. Still, with each season, the gardener had to prune back branches, trim excess, and the like, so that the branches would produce a healthy crop.
It is fitting, then, that Jesus’ disciples had been with Jesus for just about three years of public ministry as he explains to them their need to rely on him in the coming trials. He is about to go and return to the Father, but he will send after him the life-giving, fruit-producing Spirit of God who will live within the hearts of all who believe irrevocably.
Jesus explains to them that if they want to bear fruit, it isn’t about getting as many branches as possible. It isn’t even about making sure the right branches are pruned. If you want to bear fruit, the most basic and essential thing is to stay connected to the vine - to stay connected to Jesus.
You need rest. You need to trim branches in your life that clutter your existence. These are all the things that we have been chatting about over the last few months. Beyond that though, it doesn’t help to have all the pruning and healthy discipline in the world if you aren’t connected to the Author of Life.
I can’t fix your broken, busy life. Truth be told, I can’t even handle my own. I just took my first full day off two weeks ago for the first time in months. Terrible! I know. Hypocritical. I know! I wish I could follow my own advice, as it is a lot easier to give it than to live by it. When it comes to desperately struggling with rest, sin, and having a need for God’s grace, I can emphatically raise my hand in agreement and say, “I need that too!”
Even with my failings, I can give you some absolutely rock solid advice that carries you (and me) through the busiest, most stressful, and traumatic of seasons: Sit at the feet of Jesus.
If you are sick and tired of feeling dreadfully busy and are looking for a one point plan to restore order to your life: devote yourself to the Word of God and prayer. Do this corporately as you gather with a church body in worship that teaches the Word and privately in your own life.
Nothing in our life will keep us on priority, on focus, convicted of the things we need to prune, more than making time with Jesus a priority. As author and pastor Kevin DeYoung said, “It’s not wrong to be tired. It’s not wrong to feel overwhelmed. It’s not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos. What is wrong - and foolish - is to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less of Jesus than we need.”
Don’t know where to begin? Start here: www.revolvechurchnj.com/discover