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I am the Vine; My Father is the Gardener…you are the branches.If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit... John 15:1a and 5a

The picturesque town where my husband Rey and I lived in southern France was surrounded by vineyards.Growing up in the Midwest where soy, corn and wheat fields spread across the land, acres of vineyards were an anomaly to us.So every now and then, as we traveled the winding roads of our wine-producing region, our curiosity would get the best of us, and we'd just have to pull our little Fiat over to the side of the road and sneak a peek down one of those neatly manicured rows.

Joseph, one of the financiers of the basketball team that my husband played for, happened to be a vinedresser.When he extended an invitation to us, to dine with him at his home in the vineyards, we could hardly contain our excitement.No doubt we asked Joseph a wearisome amount of questions during our visit, but, he graciously provided us with some wonderful insights.We discovered that unlike many crops, grapes must be tended to and harvested by hand.That meant Joseph and his crew spent the vast majority of their work week trudging up and down the rows to physically check the vines' and branches' condition.They had to be particularly watchful of the branches, because they seem to have a mind of their own.In fact, if left to themselves, branches will climb the nearest tree or grovel along the ground, where they are vulnerable to mold and disease.Whenever Joseph came upon a wanderer like that, the first thing he would do is check to see if it was in good shape.If it was, he would simply wash it off and tie it back up to the trellis to train it in the way it should go.If, however, he found the meandering branch withered or broken, he sometimes had to take drastic measures. In order to save the rest of the branches from getting diseased, he would pull out his pruning shears and snip the branch back to the bud.Although it was a painful thing to do, he said it was more painful to see what could have been a vibrant grape-laden branch lying in a pile to be burned.Pruning, however painful, is necessary at times if a branch is to produce an abundant crop.And it is for that reward Joseph labored season after season, personally pruning, tending and harvesting grapes from those vines.

As I look back on that day in Joseph's vineyard, with the fragrance of ripening grapes hanging heavy in the air, Jesus' words in John 15 echo through my mind.I marvel to think that God, the Master Vinedresser, takes such meticulous care of me; that not a day goes by without His watchful eye carefully tending to my spiritual health and well-being.How thankful I am that He is there to intervene and set me right again, when this branch of mine meanders off with a mind of its own. And, yes, I am even grateful for those times when this sin-stained branch needs more than re-routing; when God, with all the love in His heart, must pull out His pruning shears and nip the sin out of my life…back to the bud.As painful as that procedure is, I know that it is just what I need if I am to bear a bumper crop for His glory!

Thank You O Master Gardener for tending to me so diligently!Help me to trust Your heart…even when You must use Your pruning shears.I want my life to produce sweet fruit that brings a smile to Your face! 

Worry Stew


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