What is the greatest need of our world today? Fruit! Yes, our world needs to see followers of Jesus who produce fruit. Oceans just had a team of high school students out from the US and we spent time each day looking at John 15, where Jesus teaches He is the “True Vine” and His disciples are the “branches.” Our main goal is to produce “much fruit” showing ourselves to be “His disciples” which brings glory to our Father the Gardner (vs. 8).
During the end of the students time here we ventured to the oldest vineyard in South Africa, Groot Constantia began in 1685. In this beautiful historic vineyard the students were challenged to spend time in solitude walking around the immense vineyard listening to what the Spirit was saying to them through John 15 and the visual of the vines.
I believe it was a profound time for the students, one I pray they will never forget, and for us as leaders as well. For the next few blogs we hope to share some of those insights from the time spent in the vineyard.
As I journeyed through that day trying to stay dry and warm in the midst of sporadic rain showers everything seemed dead. Here in the Southern Hemisphere we are in the midst of winter and the vineyard is dormant. But as I walked on the wet, rich soil I’m reminded that looks can be deceiving. For over 300 years Groot Constantia has produced some of the best wine grapes in the world. During harvest I have walked through the vineyard when the branches were sagging with clusters of juicy grapes.
As I stopped to snap some pictures and looked at what appeared to be a lifeless vine and branches-I thought about how vital the winter season is for production of grapes. It is a much needed season for the vine and branches to rest, to be renewed by the cold winter rains. It is also a busy time for the farmer as this was the season of pruning, cleaning up the vineyard, cultivating the soil, and making sure the vine and branches are securely attached to the trellis.
Later that day I journaled about the importance of winter for our spiritual growth as followers of Christ. There are seasons in our walk where it seems our souls are dormant, dead. It can feel like nothing is happening, there is no fruit on the branches, and from the outward appearance it looks like death. Have you every had spiritual seasons like that? I know I have and they can be painful and at times all seems hopeless.
Yet, the vineyard is a powerful teacher, without winter there would not be a harvest. Our Father, the Gardener, is still busy working in our winter seasons (John 15:1-2). It is in the dry, dormant times where the Father calls us to trust Him. Even though we don’t see any life or fruit He is busy working, preparing, making it possible for us to produce abundant fruit that our world desperately needs.
Just as the vineyard teaches us faithfully year after year that fruit will start appearing during the spring and summer seasons so too our Father will show Himself faithful and bring us through the winter seasons to once again bear fruit for His glory.
It seems that for many followers of Christ we have been going through a winter season of late. Yet, hold on to your faithful Father and trust Him to bring you through it for your good and His glory.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18