“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5
When I arrived at Davidson College to begin my first year of studies, I was surprised to discover that the Office of Financial Aid had lost my work-study job preference form that I had so carefully prepared and returned to them – hoping that I would land an easy assignment that would put the emphasis upon the “study” part and not on the “work” portion of the job.
The only job left when I arrived was working with the Grounds Crew. After years of mowing the lawn, pulling out weeds, and raking up leaves with my parents, I had actually listed the Grounds Crew as my least desired assignment. However, that was all that was left, and I found myself waking up at 6:30 every morning to report for duty to the Grounds Department.
Though I never enjoyed the manual labor, the dirt under my fingernails, or the heavy lifting of my work-study job, I did grow an appreciation for how committed, invested, and creative such work was in order to make the campus a beautiful and inviting space for students and visitors alike.
At times we are tempted to wonder if God really does care about us and the life we face up to each day. Many people feel disconnected, rootless, and left to fend for themselves; they are led to wonder if God just created the universe, set it into motion, and is now distant, disinterested, and disconnected from his creation and his creatures. Worried that we don’t have the resources for growth in and of ourselves, and running from the fear of being overtaken by withering heat and choking weeds, it is easy to live a restless and rootless life.
In John 15: 1-5, Jesus reassures us that he is the vine and we, his people, are the branches. Most comforting, though, is the truth that God, the Father, is the vine-dresser. Another way to phrase that idea is that God is the Master Gardener. He tends, keeps, watches, provides for, protects, and nurtures his creation and his creatures.
Far from being rootless and disconnected, we have a vital union with Him – like a branch vitally connected to the vine. Far from settling for a restless life of fending for ourselves, Jesus reassures us that the Master Gardener is fully invested and deeply committed to creating, growing, and enjoying something beautiful and life-giving in and through his people.
Here is a truth that can settle your restlessness. Here is a truth that allows you to find real contentment and joy. God, the Master Gardener, is so committed to you and your growth and your beauty that he gets his fingernails dirty in the soil of your life. He is more committed to you than you are to yourself! Take fresh comfort today in the Master Gardener’s care for you through Jesus!