Do you have a “nothing box”? A place your mind can go to experience peace and quiet? I thought I needed one – until today.
You see, God made me – fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139) – and He knows I struggle to rest. I’ve come to realize He created me with a “Mary” heart in a “Martha” body.
Mary is praised for choosing Jesus – the better recipient of her attention. Martha was easily shaken, distracted by her circumstances and wanted to be in control. Mary was the opposite of distracted. She was fully captivated at the feet of her teacher, Jesus, where a disciple was meant to be. Martha wasn’t so bad, but she is a beautiful picture of how God’s gift of free will allows us to choose if we will be completely occupied with Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42)
Jesus uses plant science to illustrate our relationship to him in John 15:1-5, so let’s start with a little botany lesson. Picture yourself in a vineyard. What do you see? A vine? Oh, there are branches attached to the vine? Yes, and the sap in the vine is feeding the branches… and there’s fruit! I see a gardener keeping watch of the vineyard. He takes care of the vine and tends to the branches, removing what doesn’t produce fruit and pruning what does produce fruit.
Now picture yourself as a branch in the vineyard. Come on, get visual! You’re helpless! You can’t do anything on your own. Your life is totally dependent on the sap streaming from the vine.
My heart knows its purpose – to be the branch and bear the fruit that feeds the dying. To share the spiritual gifts God’s given me. To let the Holy Spirit flow through me as an extension of the Vine. To be intentional in relationships and in use of time. To point everything back to God for His glory. It’s all His.
But my body fights to take on the responsibility of Jesus who is to be my confidence and provider of all. Jesus as the Vine makes everything available that I, the branch, could possibly need to produce fruit. Anxiety/worry/stress/insecurity? Yeah, that’s not your load to bear. Don’t you dare for even a moment take on the responsibility of the Vine! He provides all. And remember, God is the Gardener. He has His eyes on EVERYTHING – the Vine and the branches! As Andrew Murray puts it in The True Vine,
“What a life would come to us if we only consented to be branches! Dear child of God, learn the lesson. You have but one thing to do: Only be a branch — nothing more, nothing less! Just be a branch; Christ will be the Vine that gives all.”
When I abide by keeping my eyes and heart fixed on Jesus, I am free to receive and enjoy God in me. I can’t separate the Vine (Jesus) from the branch (me) and expect fruit without the very source of life – the Vine. Part of Jesus’ responsibility as the Vine is to make Himself known to us… but we must wait and be reminded that this happens in His time, not ours.
We must simply accept our calling – to be branches – and expect to be fruitful. As an extension of the Vine, the branch waits, rests, and bears fruit simply by receiving life from the Vine.
As it turns out, I don’t need a “nothing box.” I need only abide in the branch-life.