Rotting Branches -- By Angela Dallo

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As th e Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (John 15:1-9)

One morning I woke up to a strange scent in my bedroom. It drifted in from my open window, so I went over to peer outside. Little gnats floated near my window screen. On the ground just below lay dead, decaying branches my son had cut off our trees. Predictably, he’d begun a job and left it undone. Predictably, the branches were rotting. They’d been lying there for quite some time. They were rained on and sun-dried over and over. I’m sure we were breeding a wide variety of insect species by now. As the anger began to well up inside me over my son’s slothful neglect, I reflected instead on Jesus’ sayings concerning the vine and the branches.

These branches were cut off. Most were dead already but still clung lifelessly to the tree. Just brown and brittle, bearing no greenery, they made the tree look ugly. My son chopped them off. Some branches were leggy, without much new budding or fruit, growing in thei r own wayward form. My son pruned these branches, cutting exactly where they needed it. Soon new growth would sprout from these precise points he carefully chose. Such is the pruning, or cleansing, of God’s Son.

Jesus compares us to these branches. When we stay connected to our Savior and are nurtured by His Word, we grow and bear good fruit. When we lose focus, stray or rebel, our growth is stunted or mutated. The Son convicts us, corrects us, and “prunes” us. We are out of balance, crooked and sickly when we are not drawing from the vine. If we heed His voice we are cleansed and remain healthy. When we ignore His voice and disobey, we are easy prey for the enemy. We may die and become useless…a branch cut off.

I still wait for my son to dispose of these branches. Their stench is repugnant. Crows pluck at them; gnats surround them. As I turned away in disgust that morning, I realized how Jesus would feel at the ugliness of our neglect: our disobedience, sin, and our hardened hearts.

Don’t become a decaying branch. “No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine.” Abide in Him, the true Vine. Feed on His Word. Drink from the well of life. Take pruning with gladness! Don’t be cut off! Grow and live and bear good fruit, pleasing to the Father who so loved you that he sent his only begotten Son to die for YOU. Commune with Jesus daily for He desires open communication with His children. Let your Savior, your King and Friend know your desires. Cast your burdens on Him.

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:30)

Angela Dallo