I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
My youth pastor gave me two words of advice the night I dedicated my life to full time ministry. I’ll never forget it. We were walking back to the cabins from a Thursday night chapel meeting at summer camp in High Springs, FL. The air was crisp, the moon was bright, and the leaves crackled under our feet as we made our way down the empty trail. He passed on to me some of his own hard learned lessons in hopes that I may not have to endure them as well. One of the words of advice he gave me that night came directly from the word of God. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Over the years I have taken this verse to heart. I don’t think I could ever thank him enough for giving me those words of instruction on that particular night. They will forever be engrained in my memory as having a direct connection to the Lord’s call on my life. In the past there have been times when I questioned God’s call on my life or felt as if I was unqualified for the position. Without fail, the Holy Spirit has always brought me back to that night the Lord called me, and consequentially, to Philippians 4:13.
As the testimony of my youth pastor and Philippians 4:13 has rang true many times in my own life, so does the opposite. With Christ, I am able to accomplish anything He instructs me to do; without Him my hopes and aspirations, regardless of their noble or selfish intentions, are all in vain. I could tell you of countless scenarios where I foolhardily stepped ahead of God and attempted to achieve something by my own strength. I failed because I attempted to do it without Christ. Jesus so beautifully illustrates this relationship in John chapter 15. He instructs us that He is like a vine and we are compared to His branches. As a branch, our lifeline comes directly from the Lord our vine. Providing that we remain connected to Him, and continue to feed on His strength, we will be able to grow as far as He so desires. The moment that we make the decision to attempt something on our own, we will be subject to complete and utter failure. Our efforts to continue without Christ are as outrageous as the branch that tries to grow once it has been separated from the vine.
Although this truth seems to be all too obvious, it is a difficult lesson to apply to our daily lives. We live in the midst of an environment that teaches us we can do anything we put our mind to. The world promises success if we can reach a certain level of financial wealth, education, or confidence. The American dream has transformed into a race for personal gain and endless bliss. I challenge you to fight those temptations, resist the self-help philosophy and hand over all control to the Lord. It is then, and only then, that our vines will begin to produce real and everlasting fruit!