“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2 NIV)
My wife and I celebrated our last anniversary in a delightful little bed and breakfast set amongst the vineyards near Erie, Pennsylvania. At that time of year, the vines were covered in vibrant leaves, along with the tiny nubbins of what would later in the season be a bountiful harvest of luscious grapes, and that first evening as we walked amongst the vines, we were blessed by a the spectacular view of a radiant sunset over Lake Erie.
How different it would have been if the vines had been bare. Vines, after all, have only one purpose: to develop unforgettably-exquisite fruit.
Such fruit doesn’t grow without effort, however. Vineyards have to be cared for in order for them to produce quality fruit. And one of the most undesirable tasks of caretaking is pruning, which generally happens in the coolest months of the winter season. That is no unpleasant task, as it’s certainly quite cold at that time of the year in the Northern regions of North America!
Trimming involves cutting off the long, dry vines in order to stimulate new growth for the spring. It is also done to avoid breakage due to overbearing weight of the fruit as it ripens, and during pruning, branches that produce no fruit at all are cut off and thrown into a bonfire.
It is clear that vines would never be able to produce quality grapes by themselves. They need to depend on their caretaker, their gardener. In addition, their branches would never be able to produce fruit if they were not attached or grafted into the vine. In other words, the abundant fruit of a vine depends not only on the caretaker, but also on the vine!
If we wonder why we are not producing any quality fruit (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23 NIV)) Would it be possible that this is due to our attempts to be in control of our lives?
“Oh Lord help us to rely solely on you. Our own efforts are pitiful at best. Only in you can we experience real growth.”
It sure is a delight to savor exquisite grape juice with a view of a gorgeous sunset amongst the vines.
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