This fourth week of Easter has been a week to remember relentlessly the process by which fruit grows on the branches. Fruit comes not from the branches’ plans or designs. It is not in its own pruning or tending towards itself. It is neither in the grit of its teeth nor the grunt of its considerable efforts. The branches produce fruit because of the vine on which they grow. For the branches to produce fruit, they must hold fast to the vine.
The world’s courage is mustered from inner strength. It is measured by one’s comfort with risk. Easter Courage has nothing to do with natural inclinations or personality traits. Easter Courage cannot be produced merely by our thought or by our effort.
This week I found that courage could only come when my mind was not upon it (the fruit). Easter Courage grew when my mind was centered on the very core of who we believe ourselves to be. Easter Courage emerges when we trust the truth of who we are (branches who produce fruit for the hungry), who is saving our life (the vine who gives its life for our own life to be possible and to be fruitful), and whose we are (creation of the Good Gardner).
This Easter, I release illusion and lean into what is true.
I am learning to love grace.
I am reminding myself that who we are is possible only because of the resolute faithfulness of the vine and the good gardener who prunes, waters, and tends to our growth.
Then courage comes to be, bursting forth from the vine’s pulsing connection to the branches. Freedom births a life never possible alone. Faithful failure becomes not a disaster, but an ever-present reminder that we can rest our worries because life comes from the vine and our care is in good hands.
“Christians are spared such a crisis [the urgency that everything must be fulfilled and righted in our lifetime]. They are called not to be effective or successful, but to be faithful. Faithfulness is effectiveness measured against a much longer time scale: since Act Three [Jesus’ revelation of the character of God] has happened and Act Five [God’s full revelation and restoration of all] is to follow, Christians can afford to fail because they trust in Christ’s victory and in God’s ultimate sovereignty. Their faithful failures point all the more to their faith in the story and its author.” – Sam Wells, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics
Courage comes from within those who abide in the promise of who we are – branches on the most glorious vine in the best garden of which one could ever dream.
I pause and give thanks for another week of Easter truth, repeating under my breath as I go…
I abide in you as you abide in me
No matter what the day holds,
Courageous I can be.