By David Neuen
Growing pumpkins stands as an enduring symbol of fall. Whether they end up as smiling jack-o’-lanterns or stacked near cornstalks for a lovely autumn scene, pumpkins bring beauty to the season in many ways. Plus, who doesn’t love pumpkin flavored bakery goods or a snack of pumpkin seeds? Did you know that this vegetable boasts more than good looks? It’s also full of nutrition, dishing up vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, and potassium. One half cup of cooked pumpkin provides a day’s supply of vitamin A! Beautiful, yummy, and healthy.
My family grew pumpkins in our backyard garden as I was growing up. I can remember how the plants would crave lots of moisture and plenty of sun. I can visualize the sprawling vines spread throughout our small patch along the back of the house. The vines were aggressive, covering most of the ground, but I knew they were the cord of life for the flower buds soon-to-be our October show stopping vegetables.
Drawing on the agricultural focus of his day, Jesus related relationship with God to the growing of vines. In John’s gospel, we hear him speak of being the true vine to his people, the branches (John 15:1-8). We realize that we need to stay connected to Jesus for nourishment and growth. However, the fact that John defined Jesus as the true vine implies the existence of false vines that we might turn to in an attempt to get what we think we need. A false vine can be defined as an ulterior way of seeking out meaning and vitality. For example, rather than relying on God’s strength and wisdom we may choose to make decisions based on our own meager self-sustaining agenda. Or, we might claim identity that is dependent on the acceptance and affirmation of others. We may feel confident and resourced through our privilege, wealth, and influence. We claim significance that was achieved through self-promotion and the criticism of others. Look at me, a pumpkin with no attaching vine.
True sustaining power that produces worthwhile work and an enduring legacy comes through the outpouring of grace in Jesus Christ. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). When we abide in Jesus, the spotlight is not pointed towards us but on the Lord of life who sustains us through victory and defeat, wealth and poverty, sickness and health. The true vine causes us to realize that we are accepted and valued by the Lord based on His timeless and limitless love. Such knowledge is too great for us and produces a fullness that cannot be drained. Consider a true vine that ensures its fruit never withers, dries up, or decays?
When you cast your eyes on a beautiful fall pumpkin, remember the vine from which it came. And think hard about the true vine in your life that feeds you, cares for you, and equips you to be the unique person God needs inorder to build up his way on this earth.