Broken limb

A limb hangs, severed from the tree, broken from it's source. The leaves still hold tight showing that this is a recent wound but the appearance of life will be betrayed by the decay. This branch will not bear fruit. "Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."(Jn 15:4) The words of Jesus cry aloud inside of me. I remember the text, having read it many times. The picture of the branch dying slowly brings His words to stark reality. He speaks of life and death. "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers" (v6). I see the picture before me, the tree with the broken limb, the dead wood drying up moment by moment. This feels very real. A flicker of doubt flashes through my heart: who are you Jesus that you would paint such a stark picture? If you really mean this then I want to desperately cling to you with my whole life because I don't want to wither and die. I doubt his goodness.

Then I read on: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love......I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (v 9, 11)
I look at the tree again and some of the pain in my heart dissipates. It's a picture of Love. He is the love pouring life into us (and have I not experienced that time and time again?) He promises joy - complete joy - as we know we are loved. We flourish, we thrive, we bear fruit. We can live, receiving his extravagant love. We cling to Him because He loves us with everything that He is. How do I understand a love like that?

I look again at the tree....the wood. I remember the wood that He hung on. The tree that He made becoming an instrument for His torture. The tree, torn from the ground, ripped from the life source, given unto death. Death of the tree, death of the Man of Love. The love story of the ages, that He, Life Giver, the One that we cling to, became death on a tree so we could remain in His love, and without love we wither and die.


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