I finally got rid of the power strip under my desk that I plug my laptop into and got a new one. Why? Because there was something wrong with the cord and the power would cut out if it was moved the wrong way (and I tend to kick it a lot with my feet). It was unreliable. I need a stable, constant supply of power and energy to my laptop or I can’t function in my job or my life. (Sad, but true.)
The same thing can be said about my connection with the Divine. For me to function at my best, when I feel most balanced and at peace, I need a open stream of energy from the Source. I tend to be the bad cord in my own analogy. Some days I maintain a pretty stable connection, other days I lose it. I get distracted, I get caught up in fear and worry, I get sucked into someone else’s drama or negativity, I get too busy, and then it is gone. I tend not to realize it right away. Like my laptop, I have a battery that keeps it running for a bit without more power, and then suddenly I’m down to a 10% battery!
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In John 15, Jesus tells us that he is like the vine and we are the branches and encourages us to stay connected. To stay connected means that we are self-aware enough to know when we are not connected and then do what we need to do to reconnect. This is where Jesus also suggests that some pruning might be good for us and help us to produce more “fruit.”
I’m not terribly keen on the pruning part of the metaphor… but I think the oversensitive part of me reads it like: “God is cutting off parts of us that aren’t good enough… our sinful parts.” Julie and I have a pretty big yard, and we do lots of work in it. Pruning is not my favorite thing… it just seems wrong to cut something that is growing and alive. But I know that in order for trees and plants to grow and be healthy some pruning has to happen. All the little sucker branches have to be cut off. I’m not the expert, but we help the trees and plants produce more if we help direct the energy and get rid of the parts that don’t serve it well.
So, if I’m really connected to the Divine, then I will see clearly that there are certain things in my life that do not serve me well. It may be a negative person in my life, it may be a volunteer project I’ve taken on that isn’t suited for me, it may be my job, it may be an attitude I have, or a fear or worry I am obsessing about. Staying connected meant that I am paying attention to those sucker branches that sap the energy from me and I take steps to let them go.
If you could prune one thing what would it be? Is there a valid reason you’re holding back (because I know we all hold back on these things)? Self-reflection about this stuff is important for our spiritual growth.
Here’s one more piece for the metaphor…
In Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson shares an insight that he learned from a vineyard owner in Southern California: “New branches have a natural tendency to trail down and down along the ground, but they don’t bear fruit down there. When branches grow along the ground, the leaves get coated in dust. Then when it rains, they get muddy and mildewed, and the branch becomes sick and useless
“What do you do?” asked Wilkinson, “Cut it off and throw it away?
“Oh, NO!” he exclaimed. “The branch is much too valuable for that. We go through the vineyard with a bucket of water, looking for those branches. We lift them up and wash them off. Then we wrap them around the trellis or tie them up. Pretty soon they’re thriving.”
Sometimes there are valuable parts of our lives that we’ve neglected or let go. They may be people or things that lift us up, places where we feel freedom and joy, or spiritual parts of us we’d like to reclaim and reintegrate into our being. Just do it! This is important, as well, to our spiritual health and wholeness.
It’s all about staying connected to that which is expansive and life-giving.