I love vineyards and the imagery Jesus uses in John 15, when He declares, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit..." More than anything, I want my life to be abundantly fruitful from an abiding relationship with Jesus.
My heart was first captivated by the beauty of vineyards on train rides up the central coast of California to visit my oldest son at college. During those long trips, I began to ponder the passages in John's gospel more deeply... "for apart from Me you can do nothing."
My window-seat view from the train was as close as I came to vineyards, until my husband and I attended a legal conference at a luxurious winery. The only problem, it was January. So, instead of rows and rows of lush, lovely vineyards, we were surrounded by brown, barren and knotted stumps. No grapes. No green leaves. No branches. There were just vines, pruned back severely for the season of winter after the fruitful fall harvest. "Lord," I whispered, "they look so dead!"
Quickly, God's thoughts interrupted my own: "But, they aren't dead. They are very much alive! This seemingly 'dead' season is very important and things are happening that you cannot see." Suddenly, I understood that the winter season, the severe pruning and it's barrenness, was very important for the next season of harvest. And, I remembered Jesus words, "Every branch that DOES bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear MORE fruit." (Emphasis added, mine)
After the conference, I became a student of vineyards. I observed them. I photographed them. I read about them. Including this interesting fact, "so, what does happen in the vineyards after harvest? The answer is simple - a lot. (It is one of the most important phases in a vineyards annual cycle)...in basic terms the vine stores food and water for the next season."
Like the vineyards, Jesus teaches that it is necessary for us, too, to be pruned. Often, this happens after a season of great harvest. For me, a "winter" season began well over a year ago. God allowed circumstances, like debilitating back pain and limited mobility, as His tools for some serious pruning. At times, I felt utterly barren. Yet, even without the evidence of outward fruit, I knew God was at work in the secret, inward, and hidden places of my soul, taking me deeper, to prepare and "store up food and water for the next season."
Thankfully, like the vineyards, winter doesn't last forever. And, in the last few weeks, I have seen signs of spring. Little green sprouts of growth and new life which fill me with hope and excitement for fruitful days ahead and harvests yet to come.
Dearest reader, I wonder, what season are you in? I would love to hear from you!