“[The gardener] cuts a wedge into the vine. He damages the vine so that the stick can be reconnected. . . . That technique is called . . . bleeding. The gardener joins together the stick and the vine in that place where the vine has been cut, where it’s bleeding. The vine bleeds, thereby making a way for a stick to become a branch.”- Kyle Idleman
“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”- John 15:6 (NIV)
In Chapter 12 (“Grafting and Growing”), the final chapter of When Your Way Isn’t Working, Kyle Idleman stresses that imitation vines only bear imitation fruit. Most significantly, the author adds, fake fruit promises to bring:
- authentic joy, but it only brings momentary pleasure.
- true purpose, but it only brings temporary distraction.
- real peace, but it only brings a brief diversion, usually followed by deep emptiness.
- genuine success, but it only brings shallow victory and passing admiration.
Furthermore, in John 15:6, the Greek word translates as “branch.” But you call a branch no longer connected to the vine a stick. So, Kyle observes, you gather sticks and throw them in a fire – or a woodchipper! Either way, no happy ending.
Above all, when you try to make fruit grow out of an imitation vine, you often end up producing the opposite of real fruit. For example, consider the “happiness paradox.” The more you pursue happiness for its own sake, the more self-focused you become. Disconnected from the vine, happiness remains beyond reach.
Or try to develop patience on your own. As Kyle quips, you wind up impatient over your circumstances. And impatient with your impatience!
In conclusion, Pastor Idleman exhorts:
“As the true vine, Jesus makes a way for the sticks that have fallen off, that seem to have no purpose, and no hope to become branches once again. Jesus’ death on the cross is the one thing — the only thing — that makes connection possible.”
Today’s question: How has the Gardener grafted your stick to the Vine? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: the annotated bibliography of When Your Way Isn’t Working