“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing”
Last Sunday, I was blessed to be both engaged and challenged by very solid teaching/discussion centered around the words of Jesus as found in scripture in John 15. The vineyard, the fruit, the vine, the vinedresser, and “abiding”. While I certainly encourage you to check out this chapter, that is not my main purpose for mentioning it.
The time spent in this chapter triggered my memory of an encounter that Pam and I had a few months back while visiting a vineyard. I suppose the proper term would be winery. It was in Texas, but had the look and feel of Tuscany. We had to stop for a visit.
We browsed through the large display area and store where there were a lot of interesting items for sale, as well as wine tasting, tours, and of course wine to purchase. A young woman (young to me at least) that was a store clerk asked if she could help with anything. We shared that we were just looking around and commented on the grounds and vineyards. Pam, our question asker extraordinaire, needed info on the place, of course. It so happened that we were the only customers inside at the time and the three of us began talking. It is to the young lady’s story that my memory drifted as I sat under this teaching on Sunday and that I will make a feeble effort to relate. It’s a story worth repeating. I wish her exact words were recorded but even then the heartfelt manner in which she spoke and her countenance cannot be duplicated on the written page. Not by me anyway!
But here goes-in short form. We first asked one of those common conversation openers-“did you grow up here in Texas?” The reply was “no”. But apparently, sensing like mindedness and a kindred spirit, she elaborated. She and her husband had moved from another state and had not been in Texas that long. He had served in ministry at their previous location. It was evident that they had experienced some difficult times. We wanted no details, only tried to encourage. However, what she shared next took the “encouragement ball” out of our court and placed it in hers.
She needed to work when they moved to Texas. She had not worked at a winery but was appreciative of the opportunity to work in the shop and learn about the business. Unusual weather conditions prompted the winery to call her and all available employees and ask them to be at work very early to pick grapes.
Admittedly, this was disturbing as she had not been hired to pick grapes and knew nothing about this tedious task.
Struggling with that attitude, she found herself in the vineyard anyway. What took place in her heart that day-out there with all those grapes-reveals how God wants to speak to us during our everyday living-if we will pay attention. She said it something like this; I discovered that the grapes that were woven tightly and found closest to the vine were the hardest to pull away. Those that wrapped themselves around the vine, clinging in an abiding fashion were not easily dislodged. These were also the sweetest and best. And in that moment, standing in a beautiful vineyard, those words in the Bible that I had heard and read many times really came alive for the first time!
Her words were much better and our conversation was much longer. It was one of those special times that comes along when we need it most. God works that way. With an OK from her co-workers, she invited Pam and me to come outside and walk with her through the nearby vineyard where she pointed out and demonstrated to us exactly what she had told us inside. We looked closely at grapes abiding in the vine-good fruit! The picture was so clear as we stood there. Her attitude and heart were changed that day while picking grapes. She seemed to be “abiding” now. She could not sidestep and circle around life’s troubles but now had grace to go through them. Her heart was changed one day in that vineyard, and so was ours.
” As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love”
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser”
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