For my sister who is struggling today under intense pressure that seems inescapable:
Where my wine lovers? *raises hand*
Late last year, my husband and I went on our honeymoon to New Zealand (almost four years after that fact, but we finally made it)! We took the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail from the north island to the South Island. I didn’t really have time to plan this trip out much beyond the number of days we’d spend in each spot, but my oenophiles out there know that New Zealand is known for its sauvignon blanc. Despite not being much a white wine person, I found my taste buds were absolutely delighted at the crisp and refreshing flavor the kiwi region produced.
One day in the midst of enjoying time to just get lost in the New Zealand countryside, we stopped in for a tasting at a random winery and ended up spending time chatting with a vigneron. Vignerons are the people who grow the grapes used in winemaking. And what this person explained to us was that, wine grapes can onlybe grown when the vine is significantly stressed. Vignerons intentionally prune vines hard, crowd it with its neighbors, and make nutrients and water scarce all in order to make the most delicious vintages. Grapevines grown in comfortable conditions only grow leaves which is of zero use to the winemaker. And the positive effects of the stress on the plant mean not only that it will yield a crop, but the complexity of the flavor – all that goodness that makes our taste buds dance – will only be intensified with age.
As I was explaining this newfound knowledge with a fellow brother in Christ who is in the coffee business, he actually said the process was similar for coffee. That the most complex and celebrated coffees in the world were grown at high altitudes where the bean was deprived of oxygen. According to my friend, anti-human trafficking advocate, and fellow follower-of-Christ at Blue Bear Coffee, harsh conditions produce a richer bean, because there’s less oxygen at high elevations. The plants grow more slowly giving the beans a much more concentrated and complex flavor.
Sister, it was no accident that God uses the analogy of the vine and the vigneron in the Bible to reflect our relationship with Him.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:1-5
I know the incredible discomfort you’re experiencing. You look to Abba Father and ask “why” this suffering. You ask for peace and receive none. You feel forsaken, and my heart leaps out to you. But you are not alone. God has not forgotten you. In fact, He is tilling the soil of your heart and soul to prepare a new and more amazing harvest. The enemy sees the incredible plan God has for your life and is trying to throw every trick in his discouragement book your way. Trying to make you think that God has forgotten or that He isn’t good.
God will even reap the grape harvest when He comes after the enemies of your God-centered life and ministry.
“And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress…” – Rev 14:18-20a
All those people who wronged you, leave them to God. Trust that there will be a special harvest for them.
Stop seeking the comfortable life…there is no such thing!
“When I would gather them, declares the Lord, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them.” – Jer 8:13
You have a choice: you can find the comfort we all desperately seek from time-to-time and produce nothing. Or you can lift your face to our Father, “embrace the suck” (as we say in the military), and trust that He is working in the garden of your life, and the evidence will be evident when a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal 5:22) sprouts forth.
So next time you take in the bouquet of a glass of wine or cup a steaming hot mug of coffee between your hands, remember the stress those plants endured to produce their absolutely delectable fruit. And as you take a sip, give God thanks for loving you enough to give you taste buds to enjoy food and drink and for the reminder that the more pressure and discomfort you experience, the better and more celebrated your fruit will be.
How can I pray for you today?