Be a Branch, Not the Vine

I thought I’d deviate a little this week. I originally wrote this post for the American Christian Fiction Writers website blog, but I thought it just as appropriate for our daily lives as it is for writers. I hope you enjoy!

Jesus instructs us in John 15, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.”

New York Minute Book CoverWhy is it that we (ok, I) read verses like this one and automatically establish boundaries around them? Surely Jesus didn’t mean everything. He doesn’t care about what I write. Actually, He does. God wants us to abide in Him in ALL things. Strong’s Concordance defines “abide” as to sit, or remain, to dwell. We all know what it means to dwell. When we sit and dwell, we are home. Jesus is saying we can’t do anything unless we live in Him. And what happens when we do? We bear much fruit!

Six years ago, when God inspired me to write my first book, The Longest New York Minute, I certainly had no idea what I was doing. The extent of my writing at that point were a few pieces of high school poetry and a short essay in honor of my deceased father-in-law. Then one day my ten-year-old daughter inquired about 9/11 and voila, a new career was launched after searching unsuccessfully for any related age-appropriate books.

As this idea began to form, I felt a great peace settle inside. It seemed as if God was saying, “As long as you abide in Me, you will succeed.” I grew more and more excited as I began researching and developing an actual story. This peace remained as I sat at my computer and prayed, handing over the entire project to God. It was He who inspired it in me, and He would need to be the One to bring it to fruition. Many times, as I sat, ready to work, however, I’d become frustrated or antsy. The words wouldn’t flow, my mind wandered, or distracted by laundry, dinner, on and on it went. I know you’re sitting there nodding, feeling my pain. It didn’t take me long to realize it was those days I forgot to abide in Him. I wasn’t sitting and remaining in Him, I was trying to do the “works” for myself. I became the vine. As a result, confusion and chaos reigned in my mind.

Now, I’m not saying that if we give every writing piece to God, it will land on the NY Times Bestseller List (or insert here any plans of ours). What I am saying is this; Jesus promised us that we will bear much fruit if we remain in Him. He didn’t say how long it would take or how He would accomplish it. After four long years, the book was finally completed and I’ve seen God do amazing work through it in the lives of young people as well as my own life. During the writing of my second book, Tapestry of Lies, I felt an even greater frustration than I’ve ever felt before in writing. After almost two years I felt stuck. I couldn’t get it right. Ready to give up, I cried out to God. With intense prayer and hard work, He brought me to a new level in my writing and crafted ideas I didn’t think possible!

These difficult times are the tests. How will we respond when our writing (or dream) isn’t going according to plan? God has placed these passions and desires in our hearts. I encourage you to abide completely in Him and let Him lead you on this incredible journey!

Does It Matter What We Think? Keep your thoughts focused on God always and remember He has great plans for you, and you will see them come to pass.

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