Our neighbor cultivates a small, self-claimed plot of the common area of our apartment complex. We pass by in slow motion, our footsteps stall as we navigate the stepping-stones past her garden. We traipse by daily and the kids are the first to notice the grapes that finally hang from the trellis or the flower bud that bloomed in all its beauty. The delight on their faces keeps routing us past her garden.
Her cultivated vines contrast with another arbor we seek shade under. Vines cover the walkway and we rest there on hot days, enjoying the shade. It took us a while but we finally realized the vines were grape vines too! Lots of shade but no grapes. The kids expressed their surprise. I did too!
Because I grew up in suburbia and I never enjoyed gardening, agrarian pictures of spiritual life come to me in a fog. I kept thinking of the differences between the cultivated garden and the wild grapevine. What surprised me is that the untended grapevine provided shade which we enjoyed but it was indistinct and unable to offer bodily nourishment. It needed trimming, pruning, and cutting by someone with a vision for what it could be–a source of food and shade.
Sometimes I rather wish I was just a source of shade for others. A place to rest, to have light-hearted fun, to take a break from the heat of the world. No uncomfortable conversations…no cutting needed. Or I want to pursue only what seems personally enjoyable. The vines remind me that is not all God desires for His people. It falls far short.
He desires for me to become a source of real nourishment for the hungry. He wants to transform me into a tended grapevine, to submit to the cutting and stripping and arranging so that the juice flowing through me from Him funnels to fruit and shade for others.
Again I find myself asking what needs cutting and where to direct my energies, talents, and gifts. In 7 days my kids all go to school and I find myself with many hours in the day to devote to new things. My bent is to want to do it all and say yes to everything that comes across my path that seems the least bit interesting.
But, the lesson of the vines reminds me that fruit comes when I submit to the cutting and pruning and arranging of the One with the vision for my life.
Now…here’s where I wish I was the one pruning, the one with the big picture so that I didn’t have to trust so much! But, I guess that is part of what it means to trust…to submit to the hands of the One with the vision.