On the Rocks
by Karen Huber
I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
(Isaiah 5:1-2, NIV)
In this season of kids back to school and the weather slowly changing, I’m taking my quiet times out on the town, or village, or farm. Long walks with the dog while listening to podcasts make me feel like I’m walking with spiritual giants. And I had an old episode of Jen Hatmaker’s just sitting there. Her guest? Queen of Christian Twitter and author of (probably) hundreds of devotionals, Beth Moore. I wanted to listen, but I also didn’t want to. I knew God was calling me to it, that He had a specific word for me in it, but still I avoided it.
Until last week.
I plugged in as I headed towards our daughter’s school for my latest prayer walk. Moore spoke of full-time ministry and caring for young children, her husband taking on responsibilities of the home so she could carry the responsibility of teaching women around the world. She remembered the sacrifices they made early on and the bits and bobs set aside so she could treat her now-adult daughters to something she could not give them in their childhood: a proper Italian holiday.
And then she spoke of the vineyard. She went into detail about the harvest she saw up close, how the grapevine only produces fruit after a stressful season, how the grapes love the rocky soil. And how the vinedresser prunes the vine to within an inch of its life. “He does not prune a branch that does not produce fruit,” she said. And while I don’t have a degree in herbology, I believe her.
This year I have felt very pruned, and this COVID soil is pretty rocky. Stressed is not a strong enough word. And at times I have begged the Lord to send me home. But He hasn’t, not yet. With borders closed and quarantine around every corner, he has drawn me (forced me?) into abiding, to dig my feet deeper into the soil, to stand still while he prunes.
The word He had for me, spoken over me by dear Beth Moore was this: “Your ministry is not over. Your calling did not come and go. He has cut you back so that you can increase your fruitfulness.”
This ache in my heart? That stitch in my side? The pain I feel at being pruned and shaped and pared down? He is preparing me for new, more fruitful, gloriously abundant growth.
So until then, I abide and wait for the harvest (and an Italian holiday).
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.” John 15:1-3 (The Message)
- This may be a time where God is cutting off branches of our ministry, relationships or lives that do not bear fruit. Take time to name and grieve those losses.
- Where have you felt “pruned back” by the Lord recently? Can you recognize the fruit that preceded it? If not, ask God to reveal the fruit to you, so that you may see and be encouraged!