John 15 - I am the Vine and you are the branches
Several years ago Michael and I went to Napa Valley to one of our favorite wineries and had the pleasure to be a part of the harvest. Now, for those who don't understand what that entails, I have put together the pictures above of our actual journey through winemaking.
We arrived that morning at the winery and it was raining. The ground was not only damp, it was soaked. Thankfully Michael had urged me to wear boots -- really ugly boots... I saw other women in sandles and although it was much more stylish, I was very happy later when I saw what it was like to walk through the vineyard. Life lesson number one. When your husband tries to get you to be practical, it is a good idea to listen. Later on I swear I had five pounds of mud caked on each foot. Needless to say, the women in sandles were not happy campers.
First thing when we got into the vineyard, they gave us the clippers and taught us how to cut the grapes -- close to the vine. As we started cutting, it was immediately apparent that the grapes closest to the vine were the most succulent. Those that were out on long branches were stunted in their growth and not at all sweet. I knew immediately that God was teaching me a lesson about His love and that if we stay close to Him, we will bear sweet fruit in our lives.
John 15 begins with a story about God as the vinedresser and that as the vines are growing, He must prune them in order that they would bear more fruit.
We know from our many trips to Napa that it is very true in the natural with the vineyards, that those that are pruned produce so much more fruit. It is hard though when we are the subject of the pruning! But again, we saw that the branches that had missed the pruning were not only not yielding good fruit, but they were a sickly yellow green instead of the beautiful deep green of those that had been pruned.
Verses 5-8 of John 15 talk about how separate from Him we can't produce anything and that we may as well be thrown to the bonfire. Conversely if we abide in Him, He will abide in us and we will bear fruit! That fruit is LOVE, joy and peace.He wants to teach us how to love like He loved us.