The Vinedresser’s Invitation

Summer invites us to enter into its long hot days uniquely, through our own rhythm and traditions, building a foundation of memories to reflect on for years to come. I have experienced these rhythms in my own life. Such as, I know summer is here when the blackberries are ripe.

My parents’ home had a blackberry patch that ran along and behind their fence, into the dry creek and all the way to the road. If you have never picked blackberries, you might not understand how the plump cluster of beautiful dark berries calls you deeper and deeper into dangerous territory!  You stretch to reach into the thorny branches, balance over a rugged edge and squat low to achieve your goal. If you look at my arms, you can still see the evidence of when I wrestled with them last! And each time I hunt the next cluster, I am aware of the many parallels to Scripture.

In John 15, Jesus teaches about us about fruit, about the vine and the Vinedresser, about pruning and bearing more fruit. He invites us into an abiding relationship of love where His transformation in our lives can be accomplished.

I often reflect on this passage as I pick the berries preparing to make jam. I grew up with a responsibility to the fruit that grows in the sun, but the process to make jam is brutal! The berries are picked, crushed through a food mill and heated to boiling. Ingredients are added, and then after more time in boiling water, the sound of popping tops tells me the jam is ready. The jam is the gift to my family and friends. I call it black gold, because in order to get to the perfect jar of jam, I bleed and I am bruised. But, the berries, they are transformed from something woody and wild into something wonderful!

We, too, are in a season of transformation and change. We grow connected to the vine and often think the beautiful environment around us is where growth occurs. Often, though, we fail to realize that the growth comes when we are pruned, crushed, and boiled. Endurance in the journey is critical and calls us to a daily dependence on the Lord and to new awareness of how He is working in our lives.

In my life, the journey starts with seeking the Lord for what needs to be confessed—discovering the wild and woody places that need to be removed. As my heart is cleansed, the sinful attitudes and patterns can finally be addressed, allowing me to respond to His invitation to be changed.

Our Vinedresser is inviting us to trust Him for personal transformation this summer. In a time when our world is experiencing great loss—entertainment, job security, gathering with friends, attending church in person—responding to His invitation of transformation is critical. May this summer draw you nearer to the Vinedresser and may you bear more fruit.