Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Only Source of Strength


Treasured friend,

I spent this morning teaching an adult Bible fellowship group at our church. My topic was John 15:1-10. What a beautiful and jam-packed passage that is. Our Lord, just before going to Gethsemane and then to the cross, so lovingly and intensely addressed His followers. He challenged them. He comforted them. He reminded them of all He'd been modeling before them throughout His years of ministry.

And, most relevantly for us as caregivers, He had a dire yet hope-filled diagnosis for how our lives will be measured, from His vantage point:


"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5; NIV).


Faithful caregiver, in the drudgery and life-sapping tasks, you probably have no problem with the concept that your strength isn't sufficient for the day. I know there have been many days, humanly speaking, when the demands on me have far surpassed my energy stores. You may be living one of those today.

But Jesus didn't tell us that we couldn't do much apart from being connected to Him. He didn't say, there are some things that you'll need a little help doing. He didn't say, sometimes you'll want to plug into me for a little extra something. No! He said, "Without me, your best efforts will amount to nothing."

Nothing? Really, Jesus? I'm doing so many things because it's right for me to do them. Okay, so sometimes, I forget to get recharged or to ask for Your direction. But it all counts for nothing? That's a drastic diagnosis to give me when I'm trying so hard!

Pretty discouraging stuff, if He'd left it there. But the good news is that there's more to the story—in fact, He gave us the good news ahead of the bad news. Let's look again at verse 5, this time from the NLT, because there it really pops:


"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."


In Christ, through Christ, and by Christ, our labors will be more productive than we could ever imagine. They will bear "much fruit." Not a little. But a lot of juicy, fruity, nourishing sweetness will come bursting out of our lives. That's what I want to be a part of producing, don't you?

What does this fruit look like in real life? In our prayer time in ABF this morning, we heard about a man who is battling cancer. He's a man of strong faith in Christ. And, as we were going to prayer on his behalf, we heard this report: his wife says her faith has been strengthened as she's watched him and cared for him through the illness that has him in its grasp. This brother in Christ is remaining—he is showing by a life well lived that not through human effort, but through Christ's life shining through his suffering, his branch is bearing fruit for the kingdom of God.

So, the challenge to each of us today is clear. Remain attached to the vine of Christ. It's not an option, not one thing among many to drop down the rungs of our to-do lists until we get more time. It's crucial—it's life-giving—and it makes all the difference in the world.

May we remain attached to Christ today – and in our remaining, may He bear much fruit through our lives as we give ourselves away in care for those we love.

Blessings to you on this Lord's Day afternoon,


Julie


© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com