With one foot in the city and one in the north woods, Connie Miller Pease has developed a sensitivity wrapped in equal parts gentle humor and compassionate truth. Her creative efforts to give expression for common longings found wherever God’s heart is beating in people are found in her poetry, books, and original musicals. Connie has written and directed five musicals, one published by Christian Publishers, http://www.christianpub.com/
Mrs. Covington’s Sunday School Dropouts is her first full-length novel. In addition to being a middle-school Sunday school teacher, she has been a workshop leader, featured speaker and worship leader in a variety of venues. She lives with her family in Minnesota.
Spending Time with the Vine
by Connie Miller Pease
I love vines. I always have. There’s something about their winding tendrils, delicate and strong at the same time that appeals to me. And there are so many different kinds!
Strawberries are one example. I love my strawberry patch! Those vines creep along the ground regardless of whether they’ve wandered into the lawn or under my long-suffering neighbor’s fence. They don’t care! Life is good! They begin to power down a bit this time of year, getting ready for winter’s time of rest in a few months. But in the spring up they’ll pop with renewed zeal. They’ll blossom and flower and those beautiful red berries will grow in a profusion of sweetness and beauty.
We have another vine that crawls along our fence. Impulsive rebel that it is, it travels along without regard for whether it’s climbing on the fence or a tree branch. It loves to grow! It’s tendrils rise into the air looking for something to grab until they find it, and on they travel again.
When Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” He was giving us a beautiful illustration of how life works. When we remain in Him, when we daily spend time reading scripture and praying, when we make every effort to see life through heaven’s lens, we thrive. We are able to tap into our God-given gifts, whether those gifts are the kind others see or whether they are the kind that provide an unseen support network for the Kingdom. We become aware of people around us and things that need doing. We offer help or a smile or some time. We travel along the fences of our lives, reaching out and going farther than we ever could were we not attached to our vine, Jesus. He is the vine and we hang on for the ride!
Would we do these things on our own – without Jesus? Quite possibly if we were simply very nice people, yes, we would. Would they produce the same results? In a word, no. God takes the things that we do; the things that we work very hard at or the things that are simply a kind afterthought in a busy day and He produces more with them than they would produce on their own. In fact, even if they are clumsy efforts – like the little vines that wrap around something other than what their gardener intends – they still end up being a dear, happy little effort that lends some joy to life.
But life isn’t without its trouble. When a branch breaks from the vine, like one along the fence did just the other day, it’s seen its last good day. It slumps and fades. When a branch breaks from the strawberry vine, the summer sees fewer berries. And the weeds! They are grabby! They crowd the strawberries with their desire to take over, just as the cares of life and sin does for us. Our life’s “weeds” may not necessarily even be something that is bad. It can simply be something that takes our time, time that should be used for better things. We pull them up by the roots until the next time. Yes, there will be a next time. There is always a next time. But we keep at it, and our Vine gives us strength to produce despite the trouble around us.
Like the vines in my backyard, we need time to “power down”. Those times are called the Sabbath. That rest God gave us from the beginning of time is a time of renewing our mind, of drinking from His well, and of regaining the strength He intends for us to have.
The next time you see a vine, I hope you appreciate not only its beauty, but its tenacious spirit and its carefree abandon. May God bless your days. May you hold close to the Vine, gather strength for each new day, and thrive!