I was considering the time of year that we are entering into, and a thought crossed my mind. At first I dismissed it, but I was drawn back to it a short time later. The question how many leaves are on a tree?
Well, a few years ago, the answer would have been harder to get. In today’s world of the Internet, however, a quick Google (or any other engine) search yielded the answer in just a few seconds.
According to the Living Tree Educational Foundation, a mature oak tree can produce up to 250,000 leaves each year (that makes my back hurt already!).
In the case of the oak tree, it is necessary for each leaf to receive its nutrients from the branch, which in turn, receives its nutrients from the trunk of the tree. Without the connection to the tree, the branch (and all the leaves connected to it) will die. It cannot depend on another branch for its nourishment or its connection to the tree. It must have a living connection with the tree.
There can be a tendency, at times, for us as believers to depend on others for our source of spiritual nutrition. We want our friendships with other believers to encourage us, we want the books we read to give us insight, the worship music we listen to we want to inspire us, or we want to be fed by the pastor of the church we attend. All of these things may be great tools, but the bottom line is that unless we are “connected to the tree,” our branch and leaves will die.
Jesus, in the Gospel of John, encourages that kind of a connection. Jesus said this: “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.” (John 15:4 NKJV).
In order to be an effective part of the tree, the source of your strength must come from the tree. It would seem, in the day we live, there are many different sources of connection. Don’t be fooled by the myriad of quick and easy, self-help options so prevalent today. There is no shortcut to an intimate relationship with Jesus. Nothing this world offers can replace the True Vine and our connection with Him alone.
Later in this same passage, Jesus gives us a glimpse of what makes the Father happy. He tells us that it’s the will of the Father that we bear much fruit. Without a connection to the Vine, we will not bear any fruit for Him.
Is there life in your branch?