Broken Branches

About halfway through my morning walk, I came upon a tree from which dangled a large broken branch.  The limb seemed to have been damaged in a storm and was hanging at an odd angle just above the trail.  But what caught my attention was that the limb was still alive.  It was still bearing fruit, well, flowers of some type.  Amidst its lush green leaves sprouted hundreds of pink, fluffy balls, each about the size of a golf ball.  I have no idea what type of flowers or seeds or whatever these things are, but they bloom every summer, and I always enjoy investigating their unusual appearance

As I continued to walk, I thought about that branch and how that it could still bring forth life even though it was broken.  Before long, I came upon another broken branch.  Like the first limb, this one hung at an odd angle just above the trail.  However, in contrast to the first, this second branch already showed signs of withering.  It bore no fruit, seeds or flowers.  Its leaves, withered and brown, drooped from the branch like lifeless fingers.  It was a sad sight.

Walking along, I contemplated the two branches.  Both had been broken, yet one still thrived while the other seemed to have given up all hope of living.  The first was determined to carry out its purpose while the second was content to give in to the pressure of brokenness.  Brokenness has a way of making one decide on a path of action:  keep on or give up.  Better or bitter.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. - John 15:5

Jesus made it clear that He is the vine and we are the branches.  By abiding in Him, we can bring forth much fruit, but without Him, we can't do anything.  I think that was the difference between the two branches I noticed this morning.  The first was still abiding in the vine.  Though broken, it was drawing strength and nourishment from the tree, enabling it to bring forth much fruit.  Not only that, but the "fruit" that it bore was special because it was down on a level that passersby could observe and study it.  The other limbs were too high for their fruits to be truly appreciated, but this one that had been brought low offered joy and awe to those who gazed upon it.

The second branch had totally detached itself from the vine.  It was dangling there in its own strength rather than calling on the strength of the tree.  And where the first branch offered a delightful view, this one caused the passersby to wrinkle up their noses and avert their eyes.  It wasn't worth looking at.  It had nothing to offer.  Just like the first, it had been broken, but unfortunately, it responded poorly to its brokenness.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. - Psalm 51:17

Brokenness is a necessary part of our Christian walk.  Yes, it is unpleasant and sometimes, downright painful.  But God does not despise our brokenness, for He is using it to bring us to the place where we can bring forth much fruit.  He desires that we become like the first branch--abiding in the vine yet brought low to where others can sample the beauty of the Lord.  Sometimes the broken branches are the most beautiful and the most appreciated whether they realize it or not.

The question for you today is, how will you respond to your brokenness?  Will you be like the second branch that tried to survive on its own, only to wind up withered and dying?  Or will you be like the first that clung tightly to the vine, allowing it to strengthen and nourish it to a fruitful state?  The brokenness does not determine your response.  You do.  Choose wisely.

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. - Psalm 34:18