Looking at the branches that have fallen from the trees in our front yard, I think about how fragile the branches of trees are, as with just one strong gust of wind, they can be disconnected from the tree that provides them life-giving substance. They lie on the ground, unable to right themselves and return to the tree, and their days of fruitfulness are gone.
No longer will they taste the wondrous sap that gives them strength and helps them flower into beauty with the other limbs of the tree. Lying there on the ground, they are no longer capable of performing their duties, such as helping to clean the air of impurities or providing shade on a hot and weary day; they are rendered useless, good only for burning or disposal.
This is a good analogy for Christians, for to remain fruitful and useful to the Kingdom of God, one must stay connected to the Vine, meaning Jesus Christ the Lord. John 15:5-6 states, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing. If any do not remain in me, they are like a branch that is thrown away and then dies. People pick up dead branches, throw them into the fire, and burn them.“
There was a time in my life when I felt disconnected from the True Vine, mainly because of ignorance regarding why believers have troubles in their lives. I thought that because I was saved, sanctified, and fire-baptized with the Holy Spirit, no serious troubles would enter my life. When a trial came that nearly costs my son his life, I assumed that God was angry with the way I was living and was taking His anger out on my child, so I lost my faith in God, but, thankfully, He never left us alone.
Mac was only ten months old when he was diagnosed with meningitis, and he ran a high fever for more than 18 days. On day 18 the doctor advised me that if the fever did not break within a couple of days, Mac would be physically and mentally disabled. Because of my loss of faith, I had stopped praying and it felt like all my strength was gone. I was totally useless to my child, having lost the much-needed connections to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
About two days after talking with the doctor, I was walking in downtown Atlanta when an angel parked in a van called out to me. God had provided someone fully connected to the Vine to pray for Mac. The man prayed with such power and an anointing that can only happen when we are connected and abiding in the vine. When he stopped praying, he promised me that Mac would be well that night, and sure enough, when I got to the hospital, he was fine, just as though he never had a problem. The doctors were dumbfounded, but I was not, for I now understood what Jesus meant when he said in John 15:5: For without me , you can do nothing.
We are truly branches attached to the Vine, and when we lose our faith and our connection to Him, we are like the useless branches fallen from a tree, becoming fruitless. Without the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, we fail to meet the expectations of us as anointed Christians: to bring good news to the poor, to comfort the brokenhearted, to proclaim the captives are free, to release the prisoners who are bound by sin and evil, to comfort those who mourn, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61:1-3).
There is a beautiful poem by Joyce Kilmer entitled Trees that I learned in the sixth grade that I never forgot the ending: Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree. Trees symbolize the unity of the Father, The Son, the Holy Spirit, and believers. With the root attached, the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit flows through the Vine, and He imparts it to us, and then God the Father as the Gardener or Husbandman, prunes us and keeps us fruitful and useful. There is nothing better than being a living branch attached to the Vine.