My husband and I attended a wedding over the weekend, and we met a woman who bought a winery and has taught herself how to grow flavorful grapes. Impressive, considering my house plants die due to neglect. No wine making for me.
Listening to a vintner, however, was fascinating.
She explained that grape vines are intentionally and carefully stressed in order to produce wine-worthy grapes. If the vintner is too easy on them the grapes will be large and lacking in flavor. On the other hand, if overstressed the vine will die or stop producing fruit. The plants are also mercilessly pruned. Two, maybe three, buds are allowed to grow and the rest are cut off.
A couple biblical uses of wine and vineyards come immediately to mind.
Jesus said, on the night before he was crucified, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1, 5)
If Jesus called the Father a gardener, himself the vine and us the branches, then it’s safe to say that we will be stressed and pruned intentionally by God.
I often feel like a stressed branch, pruned a little too close. It’s not comfortable, but what is the alternative? I don’t want to produce oversized and boring fruit, and I don’t want to stop growing. Only God knows my stress sweet spot. I sure don’t.
If a practiced human vintner knows how to squeeze the best fruit out of a grape-vine, shouldn’t my heavenly Father know how much stress I can take? Shouldn’t he know what to prune from my schedule? I’m learning to trust Him to manage my stress. It’s not easy, and I usually don’t understand, but the idea of a stressed grape-vine producing rich fruit is helpful.
In a happier biblical episode Jesus turned water into wine. (Read it here.) He said he didn’t really want to, but his mother said otherwise. I picture her walking away and gesturing with her thumb in Jesus’s direction as she said, “Do whatever he tells you.” They did.
Jesus created magnificent wine from water in a flash. It was his first miraculous sign. There were no painstaking years of preparation. No stressing or pruning. No mistakes. Just water and the Son of God.
Jesus created wine effortlessly at the beginning of his ministry, and he talked about God pruning and stressing a branch at the other end.
That has been my Christian experience. It began easily; maybe God knew I couldn’t handle much stress. As I grow in faith, however, he prunes and stresses me so that I will produce good fruit. Apart from Jesus I can do nothing.
It helps to know there is divine purpose in the stress.
Do you ever feel a little too stressed?