I really didn't want to leave. I've always said I've wanted to live in a place like this so leaving was tough. This past weekend for Maria's birthday we went to stay with our friends Jan and Andy at their beautiful home at Lake James in North Carolina. Here is the view from their boat dock.
As I have reflected on our time there in light of this Sunday's Gospel, I've gained a fresh understanding of what it means to "remain" in Christ.
Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples." John 15:1-8
Jesus is speaking to His disciples after having shared His last supper with them. He makes it clear that He is the Vine and the disciples, if they remain in Him, are the branches that bear fruit. This "if" has profound implications. Those "branches" that do not remain on the Vine will be thrown out and eventually burned. "If" on the other hand His words remain in them they can ask for whatever they want and they will get it.
That brings me back to the lake house. I experienced a sense of peace and deep connection in this breathtaking place. So much so that I started thinking about what it would be like to live there, to remain there. The connection I felt prompted a strong desire and it set my mind in motion with thoughts of buying a neighboring piece of land. The reality is that right now we couldn't afford to buy it even if we wanted to. But that is not the point of my story.
I prayed to Jesus that I wanted that same strong desire for Him. I want to remain in Him. Will you join me? Imagine Jesus saying to you, "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."