There’s a bamboo forest by my house that I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s there. We used to make forts. But then I found out kids got in trouble for doing so.
There are dead stalks everywhere, still rooted firmly to the ground. I took one in my hand and twisted the end of it. It splintered, revealing dozens of small connections within itself. I left it alone a moment to inspect other branches but soon returned, determined to see if I could break it. Brute force didn’t work. I wasn’t strong enough because it was still connected to the ground. But instead, I twisted it round and round, this way and then that, severing a half a dozen connections at a time until, SNAP. The branch was mine.
I stepped closer to the forest and grasped a bamboo still green with life. As I tried to bend it, the whole thing came in tow. It bent alright, I could almost make a "u", but it stayed firmly in the ground. Even with both hands trying to twist and turn, I could only feel the superior strength in the life-given stalk. There were no severed connections, just a repercussive swaying until it regained its normal standing.
I’ve felt like a dead branch. Still firmly rooted in the ground, but with a sudden depression of spirits, my connections are snapping as I’m twisted back and forth. Brute force to make me sin? Doubtful. The enemy isn’t strong enough for Jesus. So he will twist me back and forth, severing what he can, until, SNAP.
I want to be a branch that still lives. Yes, I might sway when I’m pushed by dark weather, or bend into an uncomfortable position when curious children pull on me, but I’m so rooted in the ground that my life, my roots, my strength are unaffected. The strength doesn't come from me, but from my connection, my life-giving Source. Interestingly, some dead stalks don't look much different from living ones until the harsh storms and stubborn children come through. I'm not strong enough for either by myself. But all strength is supplied in that connection, that abiding.
"Abide 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. 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." John 15:4-5.