“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit he prunes so that it might bear more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word I have spoken to you. Stay in me—and I in you.” (John 15:1-4)
There was something about my grandmother. She held our family together. She didn’t try to hold it together. She just did it, effortlessly. At least that’s how it seemed to me.
She was there at the heart of things. Even when she wasn’t present, she was still there. Now that she is gone, she is still somehow with us, holding us together.
She cared for us all. She made us all feel that we belonged. Because we belonged to her, we also belonged to each other.
The life of our family flowed from her. She was our source.
I imagine that in any close-knit family, there is someone who does what my grandmother did—give a group of very different people a single collective life.
Which is exactly what Jesus does.
Before his death, he prepared his closest friends—his devoted students—for his departure.
He told them they need not be separated from him—that as long as they continued as disciples, following his commandments, they would remain with him. And he would remain with them.
He would be as close to them as a tree is to its own branches. He invited them to stay in him, as part of him.
His life would flow into them and bring them spiritual health.
Someone once asked me to do a simple task and I said no. My grandmother heard this and told me, “When someone asks you to do something, you say yes.”
I didn’t know then, but she was repeating Jesus’s commandment, “Give to everyone who asks.”
I was like a branch with dead twigs. She removed them so life could flow freely through me—so I could treat people with kindness.
She pruned me so I could bear fruit.
Which is how the Father prunes us when we are part of Jesus.