John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
The Joy of Belonging
When I was a child, I took comfort in knowing I was part of a family and that I was loved. Being the youngest of three, I had a unique perspective. I observed what my brother and sister could get away with and what actions would bring trouble. This knowledge helped most of the time. I also discovered quickly that I had to work harder to keep up. I looked, listened, and learned from those older than me and followed their example. My parents took me to church most Sundays, but it was my maternal grandmother who taught me the most about Jesus.
A devout Christian, Minnie Martha Alliff taught me by example. She read her Bible frequently and told me some of the stories it held. I was fascinated as she read to me of the battle between David and Goliath and how Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den but wasn’t harmed. I had been to a zoo, so I knew all about lions. They had big teeth and a bad temper, so Daniel shouldn’t have stood a chance of getting out of there alive. But he did. I asked so many questions about it that I’m sure my grandmother grew weary of them, but she patiently answered them all.
I thought about good ol’ Daniel a lot. If God loved him so much that he tamed the lions, did he love me just as much? My grandmother explained that God was our Father. He loved us and wanted the vey best for us. The concept of God as Father was foreign to me. I had a father and I called him daddy. How could God be my father? When I asked this question, I was given a mini-lecture on grafting. I understood grafting because my dad had grafted five different varieties of apples on a single apple tree. It didn’t matter what color or flavor the apple, they all belonged to that tree. They were accepted and nourished equally by the tree. Minnie told me that God was like that; He accepts everyone and forgives us for our mistakes if we confess to Him and ask for forgiveness. We are the branches and God is the nourishing vine. The branches are of different colors and cultures and everyone is included – even me!
Gradually, I began to understand a new concept of family. I had an earthly family consisting of the five of us, but I also had a much larger family. I was a part of the family of God – a daughter of the King! It was when I realized this that I knew I had to live my life in such a way that God would be proud to call me His daughter. I have disappointed him many times, but I am assured of His love regardless of my actions. I may live alone now, but I am part of a wonderful family, the family of God, and it feels great!