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Vine-Living

The words pour over me like they haven't in a long time. I am the vine, you are the branches... Our oneness with Christ, His desire to Abide with us. We're finicky dance partners, aren't we? I'm always wanting to change the tune we're dancing to, or escape into the corner to hang out by the punch bowl, leaving my partner awkwardly alone.


John 15

The words soak in, barely reaching below the surface, but I am already transfixed, and amazed by His love. Ted read the words out loud, and we prayed to start the work day, the fourth day in a week that has felt particularly scarce. The desert has been moving in around me with me hardly noticing.

For over two weeks I haven't been feeling well. This has meant two visits to two different doctors, each visit requiring online research and asking friends and colleagues for referrals. After each doctor visit, a lab visit - one trip to get the tests done, and then another to pick up the results - often in traffic-choked parts of town. The symptoms have come and gone - I'm actually feeling on the mend now - but the process has been tiring and time-sucking.

''...every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." The Lord is our doctor. As Ted and I prayed, the parallels and juxtaposition came clear. I have needed doctors these past two weeks, ones to help sort out the meaning behind my symptoms and prescribe treatment. One doctor was good, another was not-so-good. In the same way that my physical condition has needed a diagnosis, so has my spiritual condition needed one.

I'm reminded of a sermon I heard at our Philadelphia church over a year ago, where the preacher, Barb, talked about how we don't understand our needs; we need a doctor who can discern that for us. She was sure that her eyeglass prescription should be one way, but her eye doctor discovered it needed to be another. The same goes for our hearts and our spirits.

Christ is our tender, caring doctor. I don't need to drive across town to meet with him; write out checks awkwardly in French, navigate testing procedures that aren't what I'm used to. Nor do I need to wonder about His competence or reliability. He is perfect, always there.

My abiding and walking with Christ also isn't a ''doctor visit'' - a one stop appointment to get a prescription and then go on my way. Instead, He's our 24/7 doctor, always there to heal, to care, to ''diagnose.'' He is truly good.

He is the Doctor that I want.

''If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.'' Do we do the work, or do we just get to be a part of His work and enjoy the ride? This is a tricky one that affects my day to day and my posture towards my work and everything. It feels like a subtle difference at times, because He asks us to go out and actively love and bless others, to be salt and light in this crazy world. But Christ starts out this passage, "... my Father is the gardener."

Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Who is the Potter; who is the Shepard, who is our Life Source? It's all Him.

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Prayers of compassion