Interestingly, during perhaps the most stressful part of our year, my husband Scott and I were closer than we had ever been during our (almost) 11 years of marriage and 13-year relationship. Why, I wondered? I was working from home, Scott was laid off, his unemployment benefits were never approved leaving us in a financial crisis, we were teaching Sawyer and Emmett from home, and we had just lost our Maddy dog after 10 years of companionship. May was a rough month! Despite every opportunity for us to argue and fight, our relationship was stronger and more vibrant than ever. So what was this “secret sauce” (as Craig would say) that was making our relationship so strong?
I have concluded that it was time. I don’t believe we even put in more effort, we simply had LOADS of time together. Time spent relaxing without the hustle and bustle of our busy schedules, time spent binge-watching Netflix, and time spent play board games--LOTS of board games. We spent time hiking and taking walks, evenings were spent cooking at home instead of eating on the run between activities or obligations. Even as I sit here now, I think, man! I wish we could go back to that place and time. AM I CRAZY OR WHAT?!
All of this reflection got me thinking: what if we allowed ourselves ample time to strengthen our relationship with Christ? Would time allow us to be closer than ever to our Lord and Savior? I think it would. The Bible says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Of course, we want to bear fruit, and here it says without Christ we are basically useless fruit-bearers. But there is also a challenge in this passage: Remain in me. How can we do that? Bill Delvaux offers an excellent summary of just what it means to remain in Christ:
“The key action is to ‘remain.’ It is translated in different ways: to stay, to abide, to live, to live in union. I like to state it this way: ‘If you stay at home in me and I stay at home in you, you will bear much fruit.’ Jesus is to be so much a part of our daily existence that He feels like home. Talking to Him becomes like talking to your best friend. Being with Him is like being at home on your favorite couch.
“We become like Jesus and do His great deeds not by trying harder or pumping up some kind of spiritual energy. We do all of this by simply staying at home with Him. Bearing fruit then just happens—because it’s ultimately His fruit, not ours.
“To make this point even stronger, Jesus concludes this verse by stating the same truth in the negative: There is nothing you can do in terms of bearing fruit by yourself. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Let that sink in. It will change you.”
WOW! Bill says, “Stay at home in me and I will stay at home in you.” In a time when we are likely staying home quite a lot, it is encouraging to know that our time does not need to be spent in isolation. We have the opportunity to spend ample time in prayer and in the word. Time to build our relationship with Jesus, the person we are guaranteed to have a relationship with forever if we choose to accept the free gift he offers us. I can’t think of a better use of our time.
I encourage you to read the remaining study on this passage here: What Jesus Means by ‘I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches’
In His Name,