The Lord has been wooing my heart, seeking to teach me more about who he is so I can pour him out to those around me. He has encouraged me to get up early to spend time with him in his Word and in prayer. It hasn’t been easy but it has been so good and I almost look forward to 6am! I have been spending those quiet times in a Bible study about the Fruits of the Spirit. It is an inductive study where I read the same passage daily for 5 days, asking myself different questions each day, seeking to learn what the Lord has to say to me. This morning I was reading John 15:1-11 and something struck me so I thought I would share it with you. Often I feel I am alone on this spirit-journey. Often I feel Christ is a spectator sitting on the side just watching me, seeing how I am doing at a distance, only getting involved if something terrible happens or if I really beg him to. It makes me think of my kids watching all those marathoners running past our house this last weekend. They watched and observed but they didn’t get involved. But, according to John, that is not the case with us at all! Instead of being a spectator, the Father is an active participant! Not only is he cheering me on, he is involved. Jesus uses the metaphor of the vine and since I just picked all the grapes off our vine and made it into juice, that resonates deep with me. I am the branches on the vine of Christ. The Father is the gardener. I love to garden so I get that picture. I imagine the Father checks out the vine all the time to look for diseased branches. Those he cuts off (vs 1). Are some branches growing much too vigorously in a wrong direction? He prunes those back. Do I need some water for my soul? He waters. Fertilizer? He feeds me. Does he marvel at the blossoms bursting forth, inspecting each one for its beauty? Yes! Does he protect those blossoms from frost, stake the vine if it falls over, net the fruit so the birds cannot eat it? Yes, yes, yes! He does so because he is involved! He is actively participating with me! And he loves me! He doesn’t only want me to have fruit, he wants me to have an abundance of fruit (vs 2). The Father doesn’t just sit by and see what happens. He doesn’t just sit and hope all goes well. He participates! I don’t know about you, but that is encouraging for me. My Father in heaven is doing all he can to make sure that I grow and bloom and bear fruit! The fruit of the Spirit doesn’t just happen to people. It takes being joined to the vine and staying joined to the vine. Verse 5 in the Contemporary English Version says it this way, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit.” If you were looking for the answer on how to be more kind and loving, more patient, slow to anger, full of peace and gentleness, this is it! Stay joined to Jesus! And I promise you, the Father is doing everything he can to help us grow and bear fruit. But we must stay joined to him. What a great thing to learn and remember. Stay joined to Jesus and the Father will do all he can to help us grow fruit. Amen and amen!