Cut flowers from the garden in the home bring such cheer don’t they? I enjoy picking a variety of lively and multi-textured blooms to enjoy them even closer at hand indoors. Mmmmm! Their fragrance is a whiff of hope and encouragement, tickling the senses and lifting the spirit! During the warmer seasons, they provide hints of what awaits a mere step outside the door, and the occasional treat of a bouquet I purchase during colder months winks at the whimsy to come just over the season’s horizon. Whenever I look at them, I can’t help but allow a smile to bubble up and boost my spirits!
But! *Sigh* Within a week, two weeks if I’m really lucky, my vibrant bouquet too soon begins to show signs of fatigue as it strains to absorb scant nourishment from water, eventually drooping and flopping prostrate over the vase. Clipping stems and refreshing the water never seems to keep the inevitable farewell at bay. In a most untimely yet inevitable fashion, what remains is but a languishing, ghostly and wistful memory of once joyous perkiness; collapsed and washed out, to eventually withdraw into a clutch of anemic pastel petals and mossy-taupe spaghetti stems.
That’s the thing about cut flowers isn’t it? For a while, they stand cheerfully beaming upright in the vase, but they fail to last nearly as long as we’d like. After all they can only draw on the vitaminized water for so long. Soon, they seem to sink into a long wistful sigh as they ache to remain vertical, and groan as they bend, sweep and then collapse on the final resting place of the tabletop. And within the vase, bloated stems seem to erode, wasting away, starved for nourishment.
Flowers will not thrive cut apart from their plant, apart from the stem and its shoots and roots sunk deep within the nutrient-rich soil.
For a while, I stand upright, confident and enthusiastic, convinced that I am sitting pretty and prospering without the Vine, but my confidence wanes along with my strength as I inescapably discover I won’t last much longer disconnected in my self-sufficiency from Branch, Trunk and Roots, and separate from their consummate life-giving supply. Still, I obstinately persist, somehow persuading myself I can survive on my own. Yet, I always reach a state of exhaustion with tell-tale signs of anemia or starvation. Worse, my malnourishment and deprivation can soon become my only inward focus, rather than focusing upward to the assurance of sustenance and a wonderful possibility of bearing fruit!
The longer I am off the Vine, away from the Vine’s solid trunk, choosing to separate myself from it and soaking instead in worldly waters, the more I bloat in a bog until I can take no more. The longer I am without proper hydration, the faster I wither and faint, and am open and exposed to the pollutants that dry me up to brittle that quickly snaps under the least of pressure.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” (John 15: 4-8, The Message)
Intimate and organic relationship with the King – the King of all Creation! How’s that for sustenance? How refreshing as we allow our hearts and spirits to be swept up in His own Heart’s invitation and promise, sipping on and gulping in the Living Water coursing through the Vine! How nourished and alive we become, filled with the zing, zip and zest of that bubbling Source, so much so that it saturates our life to shimmer with difference, and can’t help but leave a fragrance of hope and joy!
Friend, let’s look to our Gardener, our King, our Vine for our providing rather than stagnating in our own independence and self-sufficiency. Let’s wrap ourselves tight around the Vine, to fuse and melt with His strength, to sup and drip with delightful heavenly food, to joyfully bound forward, released into this beautiful world to produce rich and luscious fruit for the Gardener in and to Whom we are gloriously and intimately entwined!
You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
(Psalm 80:8, New Revised Standard Version)
“But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, vines will grow grapes, gardens will flourish, dew and rain will make everything green.
(Zechariah 8: 11-12, The Message)
Soil and Seed