Not too long ago, I was leaving the gym after a work out when a message interrupted my early evening. It was the coordinator of our recovery ministry. The text was calm enough: “Are you headed to the church?” I was going the other direction -- looking forward to relaxing at home. But my spidey senses told me my plans were about to be interrupted. He was having trouble with some tech equipment as he prepared for their meeting – which started in less than an hour.
To be honest, I’ve never been accused of being a tech wizard. I know enough to be dangerous. But, my relationship with this ministry leader and the equipment in question made me his go-to guy. When I arrived, he described the problem: the screens (at the front of the room) weren’t showing what the computer was telling it to (at the back of the room). I reset the software we’re using. Nothing. Checked the inputs on the screens. Nada. Restarted the computer. No improvement.
I quickly reached my diagnostic limits. In exasperation, I tapped out an S.O.S. of my own – to my go-to guy – who was out of town. Just about that time, the screens blinked to obedience. The problem was gone. “What was it?” I asked, as the recovery minister tinkered with something on the back of the computer. “A wire was loose" he told me, "For some reason it was almost pulled out, so I plugged it back in. And…just like that! It's fixed!”
A loose connection. Go figure! If only our problems were as simple as that. But, Jesus says they are.
During his last free night on earth, after sharing a meal, Jesus takes a walk with his disciples. While on that stroll – between the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemene – he begins talking about vineyards, vines, branches and fruitfulness. His exact words? “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”1 What’s he saying? The same thing we discovered prior that night before the recovery meeting: To the extent that your connection is weak, you will be too.
There’s several important lessons of the vine and branch teaching. But one that speaks loudly is the continuity of connection. Our relationship to the branch needs to be continuous. This may be over-stating the obvious, but it can’t be hit or miss – like the cable on the back of the computer. We need to be hard-wired in. We can’t afford to have interrupted service, or the connection to the server cut off.
A while back I was having trouble with my cell phone. I’d charge it, but after a full night’s charge, the battery was only at seventy percent. It drove me crazy! I tried everything. Cleaning the cable; cleaning the connectors, buying a new charging cable. Nothing.
Finally, I took it to a phone dealer. The last thing I wanted to do was negotiate a new phone contract. But, the technician surprised me. After taking a look at it, he asked, “Is this the cover you always use?” “Yes.” “I see the problem. These types of covers don’t cover the charging slot. So, when it’s in your pocket, lint gets in there and it doesn’t get continuous connection.” And, taking a small tool, he carefully cleaned the fuzz out of that hole. He removed a hairball that would choke the average house cat! Insane!
Are you getting the picture? If our connection to God gets insulated, we won’t get the power we need. Whatever corrodes that connection needs to be cleaned off, so we can function at peak capacity. If our connection is weak, we will be too.
Maybe the demands on your time, and the priorities of your life have created some fuzzy spiritual connections. Perhaps you’re not feeling as strong spiritually as you have in the past. Maybe the answer is quite simple: stop, and clear out the clutter. Remove the interference. Get reconnected to the vine. Not only will you be refreshed with the power God wants to get to you, but, your outlook will clear up as well. It doesn’t take a wizard. All you have to do is check the connections.
1. John 15:5, ESV