Tonight, as I was mowing (before I had to turn the headlight on – yes, we have a Desperate Mowing Situation here!), I couldn’t help but notice the grapevine that has taken over my tiger lilies. I was perched on the edge of the flowerbed right in front of the house, trying not to get the mower deck into the bed even as I was struggling to chop up all those weeds that are creeping into it. What caught my eye was the grapevine, slinking onto the lawn in its quest for more-more-more. I was mowing over the blasted thing! Luckily, I overcame the immediate urge to trample it once and for all with the mower, as that would destroy the beauty my dear brother-in-law designed for me in this landscaping project.

Do you know, there’s a grapevine garden on the far side of the house too? I remembered it as I was mulling over what to do about the front bed (I’ve blocked it out of my mind because of all the work that needs done over there – it’s just too much to conquer right now). The lilacs, beautifully trimmed back last year, have been completely overrun by this aggressive grapevine.

Sin is like this too. It innocuously roots itself in our lives, around our way of doing things, in the very things that make us most comfortable and confident. Without a regular “weeding,” the sin will take over just as surely as the grapevine took over my tiger lilies. If we stop, for even a minute, in our vigilant self-examination, there will be a tiny tendril that gets footing on our soul.

The image of Jesus as the vine and us as the branches, though, is the image that has stuck with me since first seeing the grapevine growing out of the flowerbed into the lawn a few hours ago. There I am, blundering along. Slowly, surely, things happen and I’m pointed in a different direction, shown what needs done, guided by an invisible hand. It’s always possible to rip it out before it gets itself established, but if you don’t pay attention, it’s EVERYWHERE and there you are. HE is the vine for a reason. Whenever I try to be the vine, things get botched up and all twisted around.

But it’s interesting that we are the branches. The branches, you know, are the parts of the grapevine that do the sight-seeing and the tendril-implanting, right? The branches are pretty important for how the whole things works together – God has given us a role, you see. He can do without us, sure. The grapevine is okey-dokey without its branches. But give it branches and you change the entire possibilities, don’t you?

What a beautiful image for us to contemplate, especially as we harangue each other and struggle to discover the meaning of our existence. We are all branches, working together. HE is the vine, holding us together, pointing us in the right direction (which, by the way, could be many directions – you should see Exhibit A in my yard!).