Upside Down In the Jar

7 10 2014

vine

I don’t know where Jesus was the day He said, “I am the vine,” but I have a hunch it was a vineyard. It isn’t hard to imagine, since little Israel has hundreds of wineries even today.  I live in vineyard country as well, in this little jewel of the Okanagan Valley called West Kelowna. Everywhere I go there is a vineyard or a winery, it is impossible to miss. I love staring up a hill at the row upon row of well-tended vines or going for a walk along the border paths. Often there are gardeners pruning this, weeding that, making little adjustments all along the row to help each vine thrive.

It should be noted there are many varieties of vines, not just grape-vines. Mike and I planted a creeping vine on our hill a few years ago. It is the kind that is supposed to grow rapidly and cover a lot of ground. It is green in its growing season, turns red and orange in the Fall and then eventually loses its leaves and is dormant for the winter months.  I like it because it requires little attention, which is best for someone like me who lacks gardening skills. This is not the kind of vine Jesus was referring to however because our vine, as nice as it is, does not produce any fruit.

Translations of this verse often add in the word “true vine” or “real, true vine” and that is important. Jesus isn’t just any kind of vine, as we learn if we skip ahead. Jesus is the kind of vine that bears fruit. If a branch begins to grow that is only about leaves, if it is “anti-fruit” it is out of place. Jesus’ life produces life. If I am a part of His way of living it is never a question of whether I might be like Him. If I am wanting to follow Him, I need to decide: is that what I want to look like too?  Am I willing to allow Him to make me that way?

I think it is a harder question than I think. Do I actually want to be worked on so that I am like Jesus? Wouldn’t I rather hang out with Jesus and get away with just being myself the way I am. Wouldn’t I rather blend in? I think I can seem like I am growing His way but not actually be.

Without going on and on about it, I know I am being worked on right now rather intensely. My blog has lain dormant for some time because I have not had the words to put together. I have been wrestling with God and His work in me. I have been upside down in the jar. I would like to say something that sounds spiritual, I would like to be Billy Graham but I think I have been more like Silly Billy (follow the link if you don’t recall the story, which is by now in the vintage category). Less a stalwart saint and more a somewhat frayed and bedraggled one.

The Vine I am a part of is all about life though, I know this. The fruit He bears is wine producing: He fills my cup with celebration and I am to pass that cup on and fill someone else’s with the best that He offers. Though I cry “stop pruning” now, I remain because I know that after it will be good. He promised.

— Teresa Klassen

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