Several years ago when our company moved from one building to a new location, I decided to add some plant life to the decor of my new space. My husband knows everything about plants, so I asked him to take me shopping. As I would see a plant I liked, I asked the details of whether or not it would survive indoors with little sunlight, how often it would need to be watered, how fast to expect it to grow, etc. He patiently educated me as we browsed the many options, and kindly moved the pots and plants to their new home.
Of the two items I purchased, one was a palm tree (I’ve already forgotten what kind). It was rather large, and once placed in the corner behind my desk had to be trimmed so the branches didn’t get caught in my hair. I endured the ridicule of my superior who called my tree Seymour….best I remember, it had something to do with a large tree that ate people…. I, however, enjoyed my selection. For a while.
It was a living thing that required maintenance. One more thing to do. Occasionally I would take notice of it and its desperate cry for attention – droopy limbs, brown tips on the fronds, or leaves, or whatever you call the green part of a palm tree. I would then take the time to water and trim, and hope that it wasn’t too late for this tree to survive. Until one day I decided it was just too much trouble and out it went.
The other plant I selected was an ivy. Again, I fail to remember the actual name. It was just a common ivy. This has always been my favorite type of plant for one simple reason: low maintenance. It will tolerate the dark corners or flourish in the direct sunlight. The vines will grow long to hang over the pot, or can be affixed to grow upward on a post. This kind of ivy will survive weeks of neglect and then display varying shades of yellow leaves as a signal of its approaching demise. This was my clue it was time for action. With one drink of water it would virtually resurrect over the next few days, becoming well enough to once again be neglected. When you visited my office you either saw a beautiful, lush ivy or a sad, neglected one. With one glance it was easy to tell how important it was to me.
If either of these plants had been my primary source of life, my attitude towards them would have been considerably different. They would have been the center of my focus, receiving a great deal of attention and the utmost care. I would never neglect their maintenance due to lesser things receiving my time and attention, that would be foolish.
If we’re not careful, we just want a low maintenance relationship with Jesus. We want to claim Him as our Savior, put Him in the corner or on a shelf, and give Him a little attention every now and then. We get busy with other things in life, investing our time an energy elsewhere. When trouble comes we hurriedly grab our Bibles and form our desperate pleas to be offered up in prayer, hoping there’s still enough life in this relationship for us to survive whatever has come our way. He is faithful to help us and for a while He has become central again. We then get comfortable once more with the fact that He never leaves us or forsakes us, and are often easily drawn away with the lesser things of this life.
If a relationship is high maintenance, it can be exhausting. If a relationship is low maintenance, it is easy to take one another for granted. Strong, healthy relationships do require maintenance – they take consistent effort to continually learn more about each other. Jesus knows more about us than we know about ourselves. But there is so much we need to learn about Him! We can’t do this with just a casual, every-now-and-then encounter with Him. He is our Source of life!! We are to be His representatives to the world and it’s easy for them to see whether He is important to us or not.
“…no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in – being vitally united to – the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much abundant fruit. However, apart from Me – cut off from vital union with Me – you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
I’m going to buy an ivy this week. It will be my constant reminder that I don’t want to neglect my Source.