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I once went on a first aid course. I learnt how to bring someone back to life, all about the recovery position and what to do if someone has swallowed a peanut. At the end of the course I was awarded a certificate and congratulated on my new status as a First Aider. 

This next bit of information is very important. 

If you ever find yourself in peril or peanut related distress in my proximity please be aware that I can remember nothing…NOTHING from this course and would be of absolutely no help whatsoever to you. And no, it is not like riding a bike. There is nothing locked away in the recesses of my mind which will spring back into action with a burst of adrenaline. What I learnt on the course remained unused and thus has become forgotten knowledge. 

This is because of a basic life truth: Left unattended, things get rusty. They deteriorate.

Jesus spoke about this while surrounded by vineyards when he pointed to his disciples and said “you are the branches, and I am the vine, so remain in me”. Any small branch left alone, unplugged from the life source, will wither and fade. You see this each week with the green bananas you buy from Tesco which gradually turn yellow and then brown (and then liquid). It is a process of decline, which began as soon as the banana was plucked out of the life-giving plant. 

Sometimes when I am scrolling through a social media feed, I pause at a photo and think to myself “I don’t recognise any of the people in this picture” – I then try and guess whose update I am reading. Sometimes, with a few moments thought I am able to figure it out. Sometimes I have to check the name of the person who posted the pic. Sometimes the name is helpful and solves the puzzle…sometimes not!

I bet you could do the same. Either your social feed or your phonebook probably contains people who you used to spend time with, shared many meals with, know the names of their kids/parents/goldfish…but you have since lost touch. Nobody did anything wrong, there were no crimes committed or goldfish stolen, but because of a job change or house move or the simple passing of time…the relationship has rusted.

Whether it is a banana, a friendship, a skill you once learnt, a vine…or a relationship with the Master, things which are left alone, which become unplugged from the life source and which are not the recipients of dedicated time, slowly wither and fade. 

The uncomfortable truth for many of us is that our discipleship of Jesus can also fall prey to this same thing. 

Fortunately, there is a solution!