The beautiful gardenia I was given at Christmas time was dying for lack of proper care. Sad about that, I thought, why not try to put it in the ground, even though you’re supposed to wait to transplant them until all the buds are done?
But my ground is horrible. Either dry dirt pocked with gopher holes or weeds running rampant where the sprinkler system is brokenly leaking or something I haven’t figured out yet. I plunked it in a gopher hole among the weeds and it lives!
Going to check on it one day, my eye was caught by a flash of red, further up. I didn’t take a picture, but it was at the end of this vine:
I couldn’t believe my eyes at first! There, on either side at the end of the vine, were two little ripe tomatoes. Fruit out of season! I plucked them and marvelled. No bugs had come to them, no birds pecked at them (as had so often happened through the summer). They were just about fully ripe. I brought them in.
They waited a day or two in a teacup, and then we had them for dinner.
We have been in John this year, and this was the week of John 15.
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. (John 15:5-8)
Remain in me. The silly tomato plant remained because I didn’t get arond to cleaning up the yard! It remained and it bore fruit out of season!
I got to thinking of a branch of the vine
How she was nicked, and weary.
Her connection to the vine wasn’t always strong, the rains didn’t always keep the ground moist. There were times of dryness.
But the conneciton remained.
Like a very small wire, it connected the vine and the branch at the heart of things although the branch looked troubled.
The gardener brought mulch around the plant, knowing the rainy season was coming.
The branch didn’t know how long she had to wait.
She didn’t know if she was good for fruit at all.
Was all that she did good for anything? Would the bugs eat it? Would buds wither before they could even bloom?
Here and there, in the core of her, she felt stirrings of grace.
Like lifeblood she remembered the important things.
She held on to hope through the hard time.
She remembered the promises of God:
In his time.
So she waits and she prays.
She looks and she ponders
She rejoices at glimpses of grace.
She longs for that fruit that remains.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have oeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17
Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with your love. I need your love. My love is inadequate. I keep coming to the end of it, snapping back when irritated, interrupted. Feeling pressured to do or be or say or get somewhere on time! Fill me with your love to give to my people that you have given me, and be in charge of my day today I pray, Amen.