My Dad always said that it took five minutes to get anywhere in my hometown of Sioux City. Now, he did not make this statement to insinuate that Sioux City was small or to be truthful. He said it as a way of letting me know I was never supposed to be more then five minutes away from home. If my parents ever called and I tried to say “it will take me half an hour to get home,” I was quickly met by the statement “everywhere in Sioux City takes five minutes!” I’ve come to hold a similar view of yard projects. To me, every yard project should take five minutes. So when someone asked me to remove the ivy growing alongside their house I immediately thought: that will take five minutes. Two and a half hours, and six bloody hands later (I had to call two friends to help), I realized that removing ivy from the side of a house is a little bit more then a five-minute project!
You see, I vastly underestimated the strength of ivy. The leaves and the branches came off with a simple tug. The vines, however, are a different story. Ivy vines are tough and thick. Most required garden clippers to cut through, and some even necessitated the use of chainsaw. The are also tightly woven together. It was difficult enough to cut through one vine, but in places where two or three were woven together it was nearly impossible. Trust me, ivy removal will not be a project I sign-up for again anytime in the near future.
As I un-wove vine after vine I was reminded of Jesus’ teaching about the vines and the branches: “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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5-8
When we regularly connect ourselves to God by reading scripture, praying, serving, and following God’s ways we are able to tap into the strength of that vine. Someone or some thing may well try to tear up our lives as I tried to tear up that ivy, but the job will be impossible because we have so woven ourselves into God’s grace and power. It becomes our true source of strength, peace, and hope. Not only does it become difficult for someone to permanently damage our life and faith, but we receive strength from God to make a significant impact in this world. It might take more then five minutes to get across Sioux City or to tear ivy from a wall, but regular five-minute connections with God through scripture reading, prayer, service, and worship can make a massive impact on your life and the lives of those around you. Take the time, even if it is only five minutes at a time, to connect with God daily in a meaningful way, and tap into the strength of the true vine.