5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

24 Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. John 12:24

We live in a world where being successful in one’s life is of primary importance. If a man or woman is successful in their job and rises in the ranks typically they are respected and looked up to. Society looks up to those who are are the smartest in their field. We admire those who are good-looking and talented.

But when we read these verses above we realize that everything is upside down according to the words of Jesus. Up is down and down is up when one has decided to follow after the one who has gone before us. We are told that we can do nothing of ourselves apart from Him. This is quite a statement, and it could cause one to wonder why this could possibly be true. Surely our natural gifts and talents could cause us to do great things! Surely, with our keen intelligence and wisdom we could succeed in whatever we wanted to do. And there are those in this life that have become quite successful in their particular field of study. Some have become CEO’s of a huge company and are now living the “good life. “ But are they really? Perhaps their family life has suffered because of the long hours and days on the road. These are those who may well lose everything and have to suffer greatly to find their way again.

A branch that is part of a vine must stay grafted into it to survive. The nutrients that flow through the vine sustain even the smallest parts so that it can be fed and grow. If a branch decided to cut itself off from the main section and start off alone, very soon it finds out that it begins to shrivel up and die.

But when one gives up control of their life to the Lord and dies to their own ambitions, then He uses those things for His purposes. Then even though he or she has died to themselves, even greater things can come. But get ready to ride a rollercoaster. For you may well lose a job that you had depended upon for income to support yourself. Maybe you were really good at what you did and you thought that you were indispensable. But soon enough, you’re brought to your knees and you realize that you aren’t in control of your own destiny. But as you continue to surrender, you see His hand involved in your life in ways that perhaps you hadn’t before. Somehow or another, your family’s needs are still met in ways that you couldn’t have imagined before. But the process has just begun and you realize that you are walking down corridors that you didn’t even know existed before. And yet you hear this voice that beckons you on saying, “This is the way walk ye in it. “ You sense in your spirit that He has gone before you paving the way for you to go.

And so those skills or talents that you possessed before, have become resurrected by Him. But now the dark colors that once produced a very realistic but murky landscape, are now filled with light. Now the dissonant symphony has been replaced by the sounds of something more joyous and peaceful. Now the stories and things written down have turned the page to a new chapter.

Stephen Hanson