One of my earliest childhood memories is of my grandmother’s house. She lived in a large but old farmhouse as a tenant farmer. The house itself wasn’t all that warm or cozy, but I remember clearly a plant she had. The plant was a vine. Just a regular old vine that most of us have in our homes that brings greenery or freshness to the home. This vine however was very unique, it hung in the kitchen at the corner of the house, but it didn’t stay there. The vine stretched around the kitchen to the living room. From the living room it made its way down the hallway and entered the first bedroom. No, it didn’t stop there. Actually it not only went around that room, it continued around every room in the house, except the bathroom, all the way back to the kitchen. For a small boy like me it was the coolest plant I’d ever seen.
I watched my grandmother carefully prune and care for the vine. She would water it. She would carefully walk all along the vine picking off all of the dry and dying portions of the vine. She was always careful to make sure that neither we nor anything else were causing damage to it. One night while visiting my grandmother’s house, I was playing as most 8 eight old boys do, rough. My uncle, my brother, and I were running through the house, and I made a terrible mistake. While trying to elude my uncle I ran as hard and as fast as I could into a bedroom and slammed the door. It never crossed my mind what I had done.
A few days later I got off the bus from school and hurried into my grandmother’s house to get the after-school snacks she always had waiting for me. I sat at the table that day eating the cookies, and when I looked up to the end of the vine that had wrapped itself all around her house, something was different. It was dying. As I sat there and looked back and fourth from the end of the vine, to the basket where the vine began. I was confused. The vine looked great as it left the basket and entered the living room, but when I looked at the vine returning into the kitchen it was dry and browning. What had happened? Why was the vine dying? My young mind was confused. The plant that I was so impressed with was dying. The Plant that literally reached around the entire house was withering. The Plant that brought joy to every room in the house could no longer. Why? The Plant had been cut off from its source of life. All because of me.
Today I have been reminded of that plant and that story so many times. Working for an organization that strives to reach around the world. I am reminded constantly of the needs of God’s people around the world. I see first hand the desperation and darkness that comes from not know the Love of a Savior. In knowing these things I see that great need for God’s people to be His witnesses the very ends of the earth, as described in Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God certainly has called each of us to be His witnesses around the world, but there is another key piece of instruction in that verse. A point I pray we never forget. That first, before we go, we need His power. In Luke 24:28-49, Jesus appeared to His disciples and spoke to them that they would be His witnesses to the earth. That is not all He said. “You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” He told them to wait, not to go until they had received power from on high. We can’t be the witnesses God wants us to be with out waiting on and seeking the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It truly is the source of life in ministry.
Like my grandmother’s plant, we have the opportunity to reach all around the world in which we live in. We have the opportunity to bring the Joy of the Lord to every corner of the earth. We can travel to the ends of the earth, to every tribe and tongue, but without the Power that Christ told His followers to wait for, our efforts are meaningless. Sure we do need to Go. Sure, God called us to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. To do that, we must protect ourselves from being cut off from the power. Like my grandmother did with her plant, we must carefully care and prune ourselves. We must tend to every blemish and get nourishment from the Word. Continue to be connected to the Power Source and then reach out to the whole world. Till the whole world hears…