Stressing the Vine:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Galatians 5:22, 23a (NIV)
Several weeks ago, I came across some information concerning vine management by winemakers that intrigued me and lit a firestorm of revelation that has been such an encouragement to me, and I want to share it with you. I trust and pray that this article will enlighten you with some understanding as to why you seem to be where you are in the present with some serious tests and trials, as well as tribulations. I know that we get so excited about all the promises of God, and we hear such dynamic words of prosperity, but we seem to let this distract us from the reality and balance of these truths. God has each of us in a process that will ensure our life as being a vibrant witness of His miraculous nature, producing quality fruit that is needed to be the award winning drink offering that pleases His palate with matchless delight.
Philip Laffer, chief winemaker for the Jacob’s Creek range of wines, shared that the vine, like all living things, has different strategies to deal with different circumstances. When it’s in a place that suits its root system, when it can find all the nutrients it needs, and when there’s enough water and sunshine, it becomes a very happy vine and starts to make lots of leaders, leaves and general foliage. It makes a few grapes, too, but that’s a kind of after-thought. When it has all that it needs for survival it tries to become a bigger vine so that it will have more reserves should hard times come in the future. If, on the other hand, it finds itself under stress, it puts all its energies into creating grapes rather than greenery since the grapes and their seeds represent the vine’s best shot at reproduction. Put another way, if you want lots of grapes for winemaking, then you have to make your vines suffer a bit.
This is where you have to be clever. What you need to do is trick it – make it think it’s under threat, but make sure it actually has all that it needs. Winemakers can only accomplish this in countries where the vines need to be irrigated and the water supply can be controlled. What the Australians found is that by watering only one side of a line of vines, the unwatered side stresses the vine as it tries to deal with a perceived drought. After a couple of weeks, they start to water the dry side and stop watering the other which keeps the vine stressed, but doesn’t let any of the root system die from dehydration. This system produces plenty of fruit and not much foliage – just what the winemaker likes best.
Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Much like the foliage produced by the well-watered vine, we sometimes find ourselves becoming just a good-looking Christian, but the winemaker isn’t as interested in a pretty vine as he is in the quantity and quality of its fruit. Just as the Father isn’t interested in us being just a good-looking believer, He is after the quality and quantity of fruit in our lives. And just as a winemaker sometimes has to take the vine through a process that manipulates it to produce more fruit, so does the Father take us through a process of stress, testing, trials and tribulations to manipulate our lives into producing more fruit. Just as the scripture says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
There is no need to question where you are at the moment. God seems to be stressing the vine in many of our lives, but the process is difficult so we don’t get full of ourselves, and our lives become a vine that produces more fruit than looks. Remember, God isn’t depriving you of anything, everything you need is right there, but He has you in a place where you must allow your faith to increase and learn that your faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. In other words, your faith is not to be determined by what you see or don’t see, but your faith determines what others see or don’t see. Fruit is evidence of a faith that works.