Howdy, pardner! Welcome! This post is part of a series called Swim Your Own Race, which  I’m working my way through, writing each day in the month of October. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a very good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here. You can also find a link to all the posts in this series on Day One. I hope you enjoy diving in! And P.S. … it appears, among the many issues with my website at the moment, that my comments might be BROKEN… sorry about that.


I’m going to let you in on a little secret this morning, in case you don’t make it past this first paragraph today. If you have a Bible and you don’t know where to open it to, John 15 is an excellent place to start. We’re going to be examining that wonderful chapter a little bit today, but I just want to make sure that I’ve well and truly said this thought. You could camp out in John 15 for six months and still be warm by the fire of the truth there. Let’s strike a match shall we?

You know what most of us don’t like being told these days? We don’t like to be told that something is impossible. We don’t like limitations and we don’t like things that can’t be fixed.

I was reminded of this truth just yesterday when I went to a luncheon where a woman after the Lord’s heart was speaking. She spoke powerfully about drawing near to Jesus by being near those who are suffering, and she reminded those present of this particularly uncomfortable truth that Jesus said:

Apart from Me you can do nothing.

I felt like we all shifted in our seats simultaneously under the weight of that truth.


This summer, I made a first attempt at gardening. I almost chickened out, but a friend of mind actually went so far as to start some tiny seedlings for me in egg crates, so I really had no excuse not to stick those things in the ground. Well, I had a few excuses but I decided not to let them be excuses.

I had gorgeous cucumber plants, which was funny because cucumbers aren’t really my favorite. They sprawled out in every direction on long vines and we loved checking for ready ones each day. I had lots of little Italian tomatoes, but only a couple of larger tomatoes ever developed from those plants. And I had a lovely basil plant that I was over the moon excited about, too.

Now it won’t be hard for me to convince you of this truth. Let’s say I didn’t know better and I said to myself, Self, I want a cucumber plant to grow in my kitchen window. And then I went out to the garden, cut a little branch off my cucumber plant and stuck it in my window in a glass of water.

Go branch! More cucumbers please, branch! I believe in you, branch!

For all my cheering and hoping and encouraging, that branch could no more bear a cucumber than I could give birth to a baby cheetah cub. But oh wouldn’t my boys be delighted if I could!

I’m sure you believe me about this: I will not grow cucumbers in a glass of water in my kitchen window. I cannot take those branches away from that vine and expect them to grow a lick of fruit. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Jesus said, in wonderful John 15,

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. {John 15: 5-8}

Our greatest efforts will amount to nothing if we cannot abide in the vine. If we do not work according to the will of God, if we do not stay connected, keep our radio dials tuned in to His station, our efforts will amount to nothing.

For thirty days now, the discussion in this space has been about what it looks like to Swim Your Own Race for Jesus. And this is our arrival at the crux of the matter:

We cannot swim our race for Jesus without staying intimately connected with Him. We will not bear fruit that is worth bearing, we will not be His disciples if we do not abide in Him. 

The source of life for those cucumbers, where they get their nutrition, their nourishment, their hydration? It’s the vine. The vine is their source. The vine is where those branches got everything they needed to bear the wonderful fruit that became Tzatziki and Cucumber Dip at the Collie house this summer.

Whatever the dream, whatever the vision. Whether you’re praying to sing before audiences around the world for God’s glory, or whether you’re just praying to faithfully make it through the day with three toddlers, know that apart from Him, you can do nothing. With men, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. {Mt. 19:26}

As you dive into day, remember your source, your lifeline, your very present help in time of need. Abide in Him, friends, abide. Apart from Him, you can do nothing, but with Him, anything is possible.