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A few days before I began my Summer cleanup, I saw that a sweet gray dove had built her nest in a familiar place in the patio cover outside my back door. It had only been a couple months since I watched another faithful mama do a similar laborious building from the ground up, lay her eggs and hatch her youngins from the same spot. But this time, something happened - was it the earthquakes last week? I'm not sure, but something shook loose the nest and it fell to the ground along with the two fragile eggs it held. I felt so sorry for the mama.
On the day I pulled the Black-eyed Susan vines that clung to and smothered my rose bushes, and subsequently discovered the little camouflaged nest with two tiny baby birds, I thought about the different outcomes of the two nests.
Reminded me of the importance of building strong nests, and then protecting those nests/ building strong homes, protecting our youngins. [Not for nothing, but I'm amazed by the number of biblical references to nests, to birds and to VINES.] The only reason I started thinking about vines was because I began clearing mine away-vines that I had intentionally planted, mind you ... And I truly saw the symbolic nature of clearing away that which clings and entangles, that which even innocently attaches itself to us, and pulls us down. But when, with God's help, we do the work of pulling off the vines, we can experience new life just like the nest of baby birds.
When I think of what my precious Bible has to say about vines, my mind turns first to John chapter 15, in which Jesus says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower... "
Now if you were a first-century Jew and heard for the first time that Jesus was the true vine and his people were the branches (John 15:1, 5), you would have mixed emotions... Your Bible, the Old Testament, frequently refers to Israel as being a vine that God planted. You may have recited Psalm 80 in your morning prayers. . . "You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land." You would know how God brought Israel out of Egypt and planted it in the promised land.1
And now Jesus, on the same night he had eaten the last supper with the disciples, his best friends - the same night he would be betrayed by his friend - the same night he would be arrested describes himself as not just the vine, but the true vine. "1I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5"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."2
I love Jesus' invitation to abide in him. One translation uses the word 'remain', another the word 'abide'. In my mind, to abide is the better verb as it is both active and passive. I actively choose as a dint of my will to be near Christ, to stay close to him, longing to be in his presence, and then passively rest in him.
There is so much in this passage John records of that night (chapter 15), but just a couple things I wish to highlight:
~Life is in the Vine, the true Vine, Jesus Christ
~In order to be fully alive, we have to stay attached to the Vine
And then, only by abiding in him can we build the Best Nest. O, you see, you are always building a nest of some sort or another-could be the nest in our minds--a construct of how we see life in our minds which might overlap with the nest we allow others to build, or the one we make room for Christ to build, which he gives us the privilege of protecting.
All of us live somewhere, and that 'home' is our outward nest - sanctuary, the place where we invite hope, the place where stories begin. Does the nest you are building look more like the nest the dove built, precariously balanced, with the possibility of crashing - or does the nest you are building resemble the sturdy nest the little wren built - in a safe place, great foundation, with her always nearby watching and protecting?
I invite you to consider right now then whether you might have entangling vines that need to be cleared or stripped away, so that you have the best nest~
~in your mind, based on the truths in the precious Word of God
~in your soul, because you spend time, abiding in him daily
~in your outward world where you have the privilege of nesting.
God, give us the wisdom and desire to build the Best Nest!
1 - Jirair Tashjian, http://www.crivoice.org/vine.html
2 - John 15.1,4,5 - New King James Version
Link to John 15.1-11 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+15%3A1-15&version=NKJV