This is my last of 4 posts for the book Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First by Doug Bender. I chose Week 9, Day 2 for this one. It is titled Branches.
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
The photo above is actually my arm. (If you are interested you can read another post about it by clicking here.) The vine idea came from today’s passage. When I read this devotional entry in the book I knew it would be my choice for a post. I love what Doug Bender writes on page 60.
A vine can lose a limb and grow it back, its branches and leaves hewn apart, but still recover. But no branch, no matter its strength or maturity, can survive apart from the vine. So it is with Jesus. We may survive for a while, just as a leaf stays green for a time, but true life, life as it was meant to be, can only be experienced when connected to Jesus.
He is our vine…what we cling to…our support…our very life blood. Jesus said we can do nothing apart from Him. How true this is, although we certainly do try. Believe me, I do. I spent years trying to do things apart from him. Just as Doug said, we might survive for a while, but really we are dying inside when we separate our lives from Christ. He goes on to say this:
How much of our lives are spent disconnected? …We often wonder why our jobs drudge on, or our families struggle as they do, or our personal lives seem riddled with headache. Could it be that much of our lives are spent with no thought and no connection to the vine?
While I have the vine permanently inked on my arm I don’t always look to it and connect to it…to Him. Maybe that’s a very good reason for my struggles with my identity.
You see, I spent a long time trying to define who I was. I was trying to do it and not allowing Him. For years I allowed others to influence who I was. I listened to friends and family trying to be who they wanted me to be. Somewhere along the way I lost my identity. I spent so much time worrying about who I was to everyone else, I actually forgot who I was…who I am.
At the age of 9 I made a decision to be a Christian. Looking back I know that I didn’t understand enough at 9 years old to know what that meant. So I didn’t always live as I should. Flash forward to my teen years when I understood so much more (insert sarcasm here). I made the decision to identify with Christ in baptism. Again, I don’t think I was fully aware of what that meant. A few years ago I began studying God’s Word more and listening to some trusted spiritual leaders…true men of God. I made the decision to become a Christ follower. Yes, I was a Christian…I walked the aisle & prayed the prayer. But now it meant more. I was going to live with more purpose.
Well, as you probably guessed I’ve fallen short (as we all do) and haven’t lived the life I should. Since my divorce there have been times when I questioned whether God even existed. But thru it all He has proven faithful and given me some insight. I have rediscovered my true identity. I am a child of God.
When I was baptized it was a public declaration of my faith. By doing so it signified that I was identified with Christ. That is my identity. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My identity is not defined by me…my career, friends, family. It isn’t defined by anyone except Jesus. When He saved me and forgave me of my sins he created a new being. He identified me as one of His chosen. It has taken me a long time to understand that, and even longer to accept it. I spent too much time worrying about who others thought I was, or was supposed to be, and far too little time listening to the One who matters. Praise God that He is patient, loving and gracious!
Today I know my identity. I know who I am and, more importantly, whose I am. I still have struggles, as you’ve read. Jesus promised we would all have troubles (John 16:33). I sin and fall short of God’s glory, but daily I’m striving to remember His promises. Daily my goal is to live second.