In January, Dr. Phil and I took a short trip to Napa Valley to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. We absolutely adore the Napa Valley. The scenery is gorgeous and the food is always outstanding. As we drove around, we noticed that many of the vineyards had cleared out acres of grape vines. We wondered why. We had the opportunity to ask at one of our stops.
After a certain number of years, the old vines are cleared out. The soil is prepped to receive the new plants. The depth of the soil, the chemistry/nutrients, and the drainage are all vitally important to the young vines. Sometimes, the field is left fallow for a period. This reduces the possibility of pathogens or diseases from being spread to the tender, new vines. When conditions are optimal; new vines are then planted. It takes 3-5 years before there is any significant production from the new vines. They must be given time to grow roots, be tended, pruned, and mature before they are producing usable fruit.
There are all kinds of Biblical imagery and lessons to be learned here!
The first image that comes to my mind is that Christ is the Root. Isaiah 11 and Romans 15:12 both speak of Christ as the Root of Jesse. The prophecy in Isaiah coming to fruition in the New Testament and Paul declaring it in Romans 15. All of Christianity, and our very lives, are rooted in Christ. If our lives, motives, thoughts, words, actions, families, marriages are not rooted in Christ, we are bound to dry up, wither, produced limited fruit; if any. We can be uprooted easily if we don’t have a firm grasp of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who the true Vine really is!
John 15:-6 I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
As I am writing this, we are three days into Lent. I am participating in a Lenten challenge: Fill a large trash bag a day with items to throw away or donate; a bag a day for 40 days. My first stop was the closet of Punky and Emmalicious. Oh boy! It’s apparently been awhile since I cleaned out their closet. I found some clothes that were size 7/8. They wear 14 now. I removed about 7 bags of clothing from their closet. Now the closet is much more functional and it’s easy to locate items. How does this relate to the vineyard?
Every few years, the vintner must clean out the old vines to make way for the new. The old vines are not productive; thereby, useless. Just like piles of ill-fitting clothes stuffed into a closet; useless. Sometimes, the Master Vintner must come through and do some clearing of old vines. He clears out unproductive attitudes, uproots sin, plows the soil of a hardened heart, sprinkles the nourishing water of the Holy Spirit and, often, gives us a much needed respite before planting again.
Psalm 139:23,24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Growing grapes is a 24/7 occupation for vintners. There are no days off. Something always need pruning, watering, checking, weeding, evaluating, planting, plowing, etc. The farmer does not plant vines and walk away. He doesn’t expect the vines to just grow and produce fruit without giving the vines any attention. The vines could become infested with a blight, dry up without water or be over run with weeds. Walking with Christ is a daily commitment. We don’t just say, “Okay, I’m saved. See you in heaven.” and then go live our lives. Everyday, we need to connect to the Master Vintner. Our relationship with the Lord needs daily attention. Prayer, scripture reading, worship. All of these bring our focus upon Him first; everything else, then, falls into place.
I will confess that getting quiet time first thing in the morning is difficult. I don’t like getting up before the sun. Somehow, it seems that whenever I get up early to read and pray; a child decides that this is the day that they will wake up early and come find mom! How do they know? Seriously, I’m asking! I have made it a habit to sit down AFTER the kids have been dropped off at school. There are no, well, very few, interruptions then. I can focus on cultivating my relationship with the Master. Here is an excellent article from Desiring God on the why of daily devotions.
Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O Eternal One, listen for my voice; in the day’s first light, I will offer my prayer to You and watch expectantly for Your answer. (The Voice)
My prayer today is that you would be encouraged in your walk with the Savior, Jesus Christ. Let the Master do His work and you will bear much fruit, my friend.