I've been reading John 15 over and over again the past few days, and I remembered something that happened to me a few years ago . . .
I was flying home from my daughters house. I love flying! I always have a pad of paper out because the Lord often gives me great ideas when I’m seat-belted in and He has my undivided attention. That day I was thinking about Leader to Leader and all the wonderful gems the Lord was giving me—and I was racking my brain for ways to get the word out about it. What in the world could I do to push it out there where people in leadership would hear about it? I started writing down all kinds of ideas but then I heard a whisper . . .
“Sit still and I will move you forward.”
In a flash I reacted, chuckling to myself and thinking, yeah, right - how would I move forward if I was sitting still?
In another flash it hit me. At that very moment I was sitting still and moving forward faster than I could ever go by myself! Here I was seat-belted in. Completely still. Yet I was moving forward at over 500 miles an hour through absolutely no power of my own! Wow. Quite a real-time illustration!
I realized that God was telling me that I needed to sit still in Him - to abide.
In the book of John, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you [Remain- Abide] in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
I looked up the word "abide" in my concordance.
Abide - [Greek=meno]
To stay in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy.
To abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.
I wanted to bear fruit. If I remained in relationships with Him—present—in expectancy—doing only those things He told me to do, He would take care of moving me forward . . . so much faster than I could go on my own.
Verse 2 troubled me though.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.
Various translations said "Cuts off "/ "takes away" / "lops off" King James says, "takes away"
It certainly sounded like even when I’m IN HIM, if I’m not bearing fruit He’ll cut me off! Scary.
So I looked it up in the concordance to learn more"
Takes away [Greek=airo]
It actually means to Take up / Lift up / Bear up
I realized that it was an unfortunate interpretation rather than a clear translation, because Airo - the same word is used in Matt 14:20: “Took up 12 baskets..." Also in Matthew 27:32 Simon was forcesd to "bear up" the cross. In other places - both the Bible and in Greek literature - it is never translated "cut off."
“Lift up” suggests the image of the vinedresser leaning over to lift up a branch.
In the Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkerson shares that branches have a natural tendency to trail down on the ground—into the dirt where they won't bear fruit. When it rains, they get muddy and mildewed.
So do you cut them off? Definitely not! They are far too valuable. The vinedresser goes through the vineyard with a bucket of water. He lifts them up, cleans them off, and wraps them around the trellis or ties them up. Pretty soon they are thriving!
In the same way, if we stray, ending up in the mud (so to speak), Jesus stoops down to lift us back up. Continuing in verse 3 it says:
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (Sounds like the Vinedresser cleaning them off, right? We are washed by the water of the Word.(Ephesians5:26)
4 Remain in me, as I also 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.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.[I don't know about you, but I do not want to be like a branch that is thrown away and withers! Solution: Remain in Jesus!]
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
I will choose to sit still. To abide.
The idea is not to be sitting still wringing my hands or doing nothing. The idea is to be remaining in the Lord. Staying put. Sitting Still. Being present. Being expectant.
Doing what He is telling me to do.