The image was clear the minute I read the sign, “The Clinging Vine”. It was one of those signs where a business sponsors a certain section of road in order to keep it clean from trash. It was probably the name of a business who had paid for this particular road sign in an effort to draw people to their store. It drew me – that’s for sure, but not to them.
Two memories quickly surfaced in my mind:
Tom and I just returned from a week in North Carolina. He was on business; I went for a writing retreat. As we drove the interstate we noticed a vine that had spread across all the trees on both sides of the road. It was so dense you couldn’t see the forest because of it, only the outlines letting you know they were still there. At first it seemed beautiful because it was so green, but then I realized I couldn’t see what type of trees they were clinging to. I didn’t like the fact it was taking over the landscape, hiding from view the native trees.
Contrast this picture with another trip we made several years ago to Napa Valley, California. It was our first time to see a vineyard, and I wasn’t expecting what I discovered. There in the field, in neat rows were crosses. The trunk of the vines revealed their age – they were thick and sturdy. The vines themselves clung to the wires branching to the right and left making what looked like a cross. It was magnificent in it’s simplicity and consistency. Each vine looked the same – beautiful!
I share these two pictures because they are metaphors of our marriage. The first picture is a vine that has no strong support of its own; it must latch onto trees to gain height or crawl along on the ground. It suffocates. If continually climbed upon by the vine, mature trees will eventually die for lack of air and sun. We can be this type of vine to our spouse, clinging to them for our support and strength; we can be demanding, overbearing and in essence suffocating.
In the vineyard the metaphor is one worth emulating. We have been grafted into the vine of Christ. He is the one we cling to, and He provides strong support. He can carry us when life takes us one way and then another. Regardless of where we go or what season we are facing, this vine has stood the test of thousands of years. His trunk is strong and secure. When we step back to admire marriages of this kind, what we see isn’t the vine, but the cross. He is the reason our marriages succeed and bear fruit.
We are all clinging vines – the question is – to whom are you clinging?
- Clinging to our spouse will not produce fruit that will last. It will suffocate the love God intended us to share and leave us gasping for help in great need.
- Clinging to Christ will provide rich nourishment and strength in our marriage allowing us to produce fruit that will remain.
“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.” John 15:5 (ESV)