This weekend I was working in my garden and noticed that my three grapevines had hit the two-year mark and were growing every which way and loose. Grapes are one plant where the work of growing is actually challenging. One must weed, fertilize, wipe out insect and disease and a must–proper pruning.
On Monday evening I grabbed my pruning shears and walked over to my grapes. As I was looking over the vines that were growing I seriously couldn’t decide which vines to cut. The trick to grapes is to let them grow for the first two years and then take a look to see which few vines are the healthiest and cut the rest.
This morning I looked over my vines again and had a talk with each plant. I said, “Hey… this is the deal. Each vine has until the weekend to show me how mature you think you can become. I don’t want to have to cut you off, but in order to produce fruit that is going to be beneficial to the health of others I must sacrifice many of you and keep just a few of you. I want to make sure that I cut the right vines, because once I do there’s no going back, and if you are left unattended you will become unruly again, your fruit will be poor and I don’t want poor fruit due to your overproduction of vegetation.”
Doesn’t everyone talk to their plants?
Anyway, I walked away and came into my office and I SMiled. My whole life I’ve heard Jesus speak about the grapevine…
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 1-17
I realized this morning that I’ve always understood what Jesus was saying, but until this morning I never “saw” what He was saying. This morning I walked out and saw beautiful, green, leaves that were all reaching towards heaven, but only a few are going to survive.
This is also where I realized why God gives us free will to accept Him or not. How I wish I could walk out to my grapes and say, “Okay. This is the deal. You decide which few of you are going to stay. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to hang around, baking in the sun… being challenged by the humidity of the day and bugs that are going to be crawling over you. I’m also going to have to cut some of your vegetation off so that we can ensure that only your best fruit grows. It’s not going to be pretty, but who’s in?”
I’m sure come this weekend I will know which vines to cut and I will enjoy the rest of this season watching them grow and when it’s time to harvest them you can bet that I won’t allow one grape to go to waste. I also understand why God chose to use the grapes as an illustration of life. God absolutely is the vine, and we absolutely are the branches and one can’t bear fruit without the other.
Praying everyone a bountiful harvest this season. Don’t let the fruits of your labor fall to waste. There was too much love that went into producing you!
ONWARD TOWARDS THE HARVEST!