It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to us and draws our attention to things that He wants us learn. I have written in the past of the many things He has taught me through the grapevines that grow along the trellis and fence in my side yard. The vines were here when I moved in and at first, while I found it cool to have grapes every July and August, I never really gave it much thought. Then, a few years ago, God started using it as a teaching tool for me; and, today, I actually wonder if its existence is the very reason this became my home. The lessons are that powerful.
Anyhow, back to what brought me to the subject of grapevines again. Yesterday, the daily bible verse provided by the You Version Bible app on my phone drew my attention to John 15, a chapter in which Jesus paints a beautifully, detailed picture of Himself as the True Vine of Israel. In John 15:1-2, He says: “I am the true grapevine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
As it is one of my favorite teachings, I opened my bible and studied every word of this chapter and, as I contemplated getting ready for church, I felt compelled instead to head outside to my grapevine. Pruning shears in hand, I stood and looked at a very daunting task. Though pruning should be an annual thing, I am ashamed to say I haven’t considered it since the last time three years ago when I wound up having to call in a professional. Oh, my, so many vines, branches and twigs twisted and wrapped tightly everywhere! You can barely see the fence nor the couple of trees that live nearby. And you certainly can’t see the actual trunks of the vines. Just like last time, I was completely overwhelmed.
And, yet, I felt one of those, what I like to call, “God nudges”, and decided to just start. I chose a portion of the vine that had overtaken one side of my fence. I cut, I pulled and tugged and then cut and pulled and tugged some more. It was such a tangled mess that parts of my fence began to break away and splinter off as I pulled the twisted, overgrown branches away. And, it was then that I heard God’s whisper deep in my spirit.
“This, my child, is why I want you to be thankful for those times in your life when I prune you. Just look at what happens when the branches of the vine go untended.”
I immediately dropped my pruning shears and stepped back to take it in. What I noticed most was not the growing pile of crazy, curly branches already cut away or the still daunting task ahead, but the fence which stood before me weakened, damaged and broken. The branches had weaved their way through the gaps in the fence and weakened it to the point that, as I tugged the intertwinings, huge pieces of the fence broke off and splintered, falling to the ground. It was disheartening and yet enlightening at the same time.
I pictured in my mind that the fence represents our faith in God; and that faith is what separates a true believer from the world. When we are not pruned and are allowed to grow wild, not only do we become fruitless but our fence of faith will eventually fall away, leaving our lives unclear and tangled and our eyes set more on the world than on our precious God.
On the bright side, we all have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with not only the Master Gardener who is always willing to prune us for our ultimate joy and His ultimate Glory, but also His Son, an awesome and dedicated carpenter-by-trade who will always, in all ways, help us to rebuild our faith, no matter what, just by asking.
Thank you, God, for my grapevine—the one in my yard and the one in my heart.
Amen and Ehmen.