It is high time to prune our grapes. On my parents’ land, a crumbling arbor of wood and metal mesh supports the weight of a network of vines. As the summer deepens, the grapes swell to their full size, becoming dusky purple fruits that pop with flavors both tart and sweet. I love our grapes, but they are overgrown.
Our neighbor’s grapes, on the other hand, look very different.
The main vines are just as thick, but they are only allowed to grow a few feet long. Every year, in the spring, they look like brown, naked stalks, attached at the top to a horizontal wire. Why?
Because the grapes grow better at way.
You see, grapes have a single main vine. That main vine grows green tendrils that shoot outward, tangling themselves around everything nearby. The next year, if left alone, those shoots grow their own shoots. After several years, the vines have traveled very far from the main root, and the grapes are no longer as vibrant and juicy as they once had been when their source was closer.
I see in this a metaphor of our lives in Christ. Often, in our search for a deeper relationship with Christ, we unintentionally travel far away from His source. What is the primary root of faith? God’s Word and direct communication with Him through prayer. Yet so many of us accept derivative substitutes to these roots.
For example, rather than reading God’s Word for ourselves, we read commentaries, book studies, and devotionals, and rely upon the teaching of our spiritual leaders. Or perhaps, rather than speaking to God ourselves, we rely upon the counsel of our spiritual mentors, the fellowship of our Bible studies and church groups, and the motivating influence of the annual women’s retreat.
In this way, we seek after the growth that comes from a shoot, from another shoot, from a third shoot… The derivative shoot still has the essential sap of the Vine, but it has become diluted and weak because it is so far from its original source.
What if we, as believers, each dove into the Word and into prayer as deeply as those believers whose books we read and whose speeches we hear? What if we each remained as close to the Vine as possible? It is good to receive encouragement from our fellow “grapes,” but they should not be the conduit responsible for our communion with the Vine.
Let us abide in the Vine and draw our growth directly from Him!
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.