Lessons from the Vine

A Brief Exhortation from Steve Carpenter

Recently, I heard a presentation from one of the pioneer winemakers in Israel. During his talk, he explained how they were able to make an exceptional bottle of wine, still regarded today to be one of the best wines in the country. Rather than talking about the grapes, he talked about the roots. As he shared about what is going on underneath the surface, I couldn’t help but make some parallels to my own life. See if you can relate as well, as you consider this short paragraph about grapevine root systems and the effects of irrigation.

GrapeVine Root Systems.

Available moisture in the soil encourages the growth of root systems. For table grapes, you want the vines to grow as vigorously as possible. The roots will spread out horizontal about 2-4 feet under the surface. On the other hand, winemakers often want the vines to struggle a bit. How? They limit the water on the surface. In doing so, the roots penetrate deep into the soil looking for moisture (up to 30 feet). A struggling plant will produce fewer grapes with a stronger flavor and more complexity, which produces high-quality wine. One way to increase grape production is to weed the area around the grapes so other plants do not compete with grape roots for soil moisture. The result? More grapes but less flavor and complexity. Winemakers sometimes intentionally do the opposite and plant a grass covering to reduce the amount of moisture in the topsoil, forcing the roots to go deeper.

So, what does “going deeper” look like for you in your walk with God and journey of faith? John 15:1, Jesus says, “My Father is the gardener, the vinegrower.”

Just like the vine grower knows what he wants from the vine, our Father in heaven knows what He wants from us. In order for that fruitfulness to come forth from our lives, the process often involves some pressure and sometimes, even pain.

There are a vast number of principles to be drawn and scriptures that can be shared to support this fruit-bearing process in our lives, but allow me to share three biblical exhortations that will enable this deepening process to “take root” in our lives.

1. Keep an eternal perspective. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2. Endure hardship. 2 Timothy 2:3-5. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”

3. Esteem and edify others. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-24. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

Rich blessings and much love from Jerusalem,