A Life That Flourishes
John 15:4-5 (ESV)
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Just as a grapevine or a tomato plant needs to be supported if they are to bear good fruit, so do we humans need a support system, a trellis, if we are to live fruitful, flourishing lives.
Trellises keep plants out of the mud so they can be clean and beautiful. They keep fresh air circulating around the plant so they don’t mold. They provide something for the plant to hold on to when storms come.
Taking your unique life circumstances into context, what are things you could do that would keep you connected with God and others? What would make you the healthiest and happiest? What would make you more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled? What would help you weather the storms of life?
Building a “Rule of Life” or what we call a “Trellis” is an ancient practice originating in the monastic communities around the third century AD. The goal is simply to create an intentional set of life rhythms or “practices” that keep you in regular connection with God.
As you build your Trellis, it can be helpful to think about your life practices in four main categories:
These are the core foundational practices of a life that follows Jesus. They include prayer, scripture reading, silence and solitude, and Sabbath.
These practices are centered around connection with others. Commitment to your small group community, a regular date night with your spouse, a monthly visit to an elderly family member, etc.
What is restful to you? How do you “recharge your batteries?” What are things that provide health to your body, mind, and spirit? These are practices in the Restore category.
Following Jesus means living a “cross-shaped” life of love — upward toward God and outward toward people. Include in your Trellis activities that move you toward something other than yourself, like serving others or volunteering.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Your Trellis will be unique to your own life situation. Just because one person has an hour-long morning quiet time doesn’t mean it’s practical for you.
- It’s not one and done. Some practices in your Trellis will change as you go in and out of different seasons of life. A young mother’s Trellis will look different than an empty nester’s Trellis.
- Don’t forget your body. Your mind and body work together. It’s difficult to be present to God or others if we aren’t nourished physically. Include practices that care for your spirit, your mind, and your body.
- These are not goals to achieve. They are practices to, well, practice. We don’t check them off a list; we incorporate them into our lives to bring us closer to Jesus. Drawing closer to Him is the goal.
- Start where you’re at, not where you think you should be. Be realistic about what’s possible for you and your family. You can always adjust it as you learn and grow.
For those of us that need a visual, here are a couple of sample Trellises using the “Roots, Relationships, Restore, and Reach” categories.