I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 ESV
What are you living for? It’s a question we come face to face with when our world is turned upside down by the loss of our spouses. My answer is I live to glorify God. There is only one way I can accomplish that purpose, I have to stay connected.
One of the first verses I memorized was John 15:5. But of course I memorized it WRONG. My version ended with “apart from me you ARE nothing” instead of “apart from me you CAN DO nothing.” Amazing what a difference those two little words make. I still chuckle when I think about this verse and my mistake. Over time, this mistake has become a two-fold lesson. First, it became a lesson about who I am in Christ – I am not, nor could I ever be, nothing to God. Secondly, it became a lesson about the importance of meditating on God’s word. Two critical lessons that have sustained me, challenged me, and strengthened me, throughout my journey.
When I became a widow, I struggled with who I was since I was no longer a wife. Several times the Holy Spirit reminded me of the truth I had learned from John 15:5. God is the vine and I am the branch. Being the branch – an extension of the vine – is amazing. Whether I am a wife or a widow, doesn’t change the reality that God created me to be His creation, connected to Him. No matter how alone I feel, how overwhelmed I get or how many tears I cry, I am still something. I am His creation, whom He loves. He has created me to draw my strength and my life from Him – the vine.
Over time, this verse has fundamentally changed my understanding of who I really am. Wisdom and understanding made possible only by the Holy Spirit helping me truly meditate on God’s word. I thought about this verse repeatedly until it seemed like it permeated every crevice of my brain. In addition to teaching me who I am, this verse reminds me how important it is to stay connected to God.
Early in my widow journey, I found it unbelievably difficult to read. Decades of being able to pick up my bible and receive comfort or wisdom whenever I needed, was suddenly something I was incapable of doing. At first, it was a few days, then a few weeks, and then it started to stretch into months, I started to panic. I tried reading my bible, reading devotionals, listening to Christian music. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually, I felt prompted by the Spirit to start writing devotionals, which seemed crazy at the time. How could I write, when I couldn’t even read? Writing turned out to be exactly what I needed to help me meditate on God’s word and stay connected to Him.
Are you struggling? Then breathe in the truth that God is the vine and you are the branch. Your identity, your strength, your life, comes from your connection to Him. Nothing can change that truth. Wait for God to supply the life and the direction you need, which can only come from Him. Trust – you are His creation whom He loves. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you so you stay connected!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches us Your truth and who provides comfort and guidance. Help us to meditate on Your truth and to glorify You in all we say and do! Amen.
Sheryl Pepple is President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandchildren. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.
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