Thursday, March 19, 2009

Abide in Me by Jodi Whisenhunt

About a week before our Rachel Faith was born, I felt a sharp pain on my lower left side. I feared its significance; I knew her birth was near. By this time, the trisomy 18 had been confirmed, and the grim outlook bore gravely down upon me. I fell to my knees and wept. Through tears, I whispered to Rachel, though she couldn't hear or understand, "Stay with me! Don't come out! Don't go!" As long a she was in me, her heart beat. In me she was alive and strong, vital. Apart from me, her imperfect body could do nothing.

It reminds me of John 15:5 (NKJV), "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." The Greek meno means to stay in a given place, to abide, continue, endure, or remain (Strong's Concordance). Jesus tells us to stay in Him. In Him, we are alive and strong, vital. In Him, we bear much fruit. Apart from Him, we wither. Apart from Him, we perish.

Jesus wants us to produce fruit for Him. What does that mean? In Genesis 1:22, we're told to "be fruitful and multiply" to increase the number of humankind, but that's not what Jesus refers to in this passage. The type of fruit we produce by remaining in God's love is what results from our example of faith, things such as reaching the lost, drawing His children closer to Him, and exemplifying His gentle mercies. We must continue in Him. We must remain attached to the vine in order to bear fruit. He tells us this 10 times from verses 4-10, thus driving home the point that "the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine" (John 15:4).

Jesus says in John 15:2 that every branch that produces no fruit is cut off by God, "the gardener", while every branch that does bear fruit is pruned to be even more productive. Now, my Rachel could not physically remain in me forever. Her departure from this world was an act of the Father pruning my husband's and my branches. We faithfully allowed God to work His will in our lives out of obedience to Him. "By this My Father [was] glorified, that you bear much fruit" (John 15:8).

If I abide in Him, and He in me, I am vibrant. As Rachel was alive in me, I am alive in Jesus! "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).