The word “seasons” has been coming up a lot for me lately—not just because we are beginning to see a lot of “color” in the leaves. Often when I hear or read a word repeatedly I think Papa prompting me to think again on the idea. As I pondered this one yesterday it happened again! I was driving and listening to Robin Mark’s All is Well . . . and he sang the lines
Though our seasons change,
We still exalt His name . . .
What’s with all this seasons stuff?
I’m thinking that too often we, ur . . . I . . ., think of life as consisting of only four seasons—spring (when we are young), summer (as we grow in strength), fall (as we age), and winter (as we approach death). This tends to relegate excitement and growth to the young! But even if you are under 40, viewing your current situation from this macro-life-seasons perspective can lead to a view of life as rather slow, . . . and boring! Such a view is inconsistent with the adventure—the life of love and danger—Jesus calls us into.
Last week we took our daughter and son-in-law to the Napa Valley, “wine country.” As I drove we passed a particular vineyard where many years ago I had taken some vine-photos in the spring. In view of Jesus’ metaphor of vine and branches, I take a particular interest in grapevines. Last week I noticed that the vines in this field had not yet been harvested, so I turned around and went back. Like Moses and the burning bush, there are times when it is appropriate to turn aside and see (consider) what is happening. I got out of the car, walked into the vineyard, and took some pictures (including this one). My enjoyment was interrupted by a phone call about a possible job. I set an interview time, hung up, took a couple more pictures, and went back to the car. Traffic going north was heavy that day so we altered course and headed over to Sonoma, where we walked through part of California’s “northernmost” Mission, bought some cheese & French bread, and took a “tour” at a winery. You guessed it—the guide talked a lot about seasons and grape growing—from winter “dormancy” (when 90% of the rain falls) through pruning, “bud burst,” grape setting, summer, and harvest. The vines go through these seasons not just once in their lifetime, but every year. The progression from one season to another is a regular, recurring thing. You might call it a way of life for vines. Papa, what are you wanting to impress upon me?
I know there is much discussion of the significance of fruit in the vine metaphor—what does the fruit represent? This is an important consideration I suppose, but if we look at the text (John 15) we must acknowledge that fruit is the Father’s concern. It is the Father as “vinedresser” whose interest is in fruit, more fruit, much fruit, fruit which remains. The branches are participants in the process of fruit production, but that is not their focus—their role is simply to abide in the vine. But I should address that another time. Today I’m thinking seasons. I’m thinking the process of fruit production is a frequent and progressive process involving many, many such “fruit production cycles” over our lifetime. We are not pruned only once. New life does not burst forth from us only once. More than one harvest of fruit matures during our life. All of these seasons are important, and each season happens repeatedly for each of us. These seasons are part of our way of life in Him. Consider some ideas; Papa, speak to me where I am today.
Summer – a time of much sunshine, long days, much growing—so much in fact that the vinedresser needs to “leaf strip”—remove vibrant, green growth which otherwise will hurt grape growth and maturation. I start with this because I encounter so many busy people. My experience, personally and in churches, is that we tend to start many good activities and then perpetuate them—even when their usefulness is low (or even counterproductive). Some things rob us of time, energy, and availability. But “leaf strip” is not the responsibility of the branch—we must simply be willing to allow the vinedresser to pursue His focus: Papa, what activities do I need to stop?
Harvest—a time of shorter days, but of enjoying, savoring, the smells and tastes of harvest (which, by the way, means the fruit needs to be crushed and fermented—more on that another time). Some of the new wine can go into new wineskins, to share on other occasions, but some of it should be enjoyed now. Lord Jesus, what joys of You and of Your life in me should I savor today, and what should I share?
Winter—sometimes cold, or even harsh, days . . . but also times of deep watering through both hard and gentle rains. Holy Spirit, where do I need to receive the washing of water with The Word—what hard Truth do I need to receive today? Enable me to receive anew Your cleansing, renewing, and refreshing presence.
Well, I’d love to share more—maybe even interact with you a bit—but I’m off for a day in other vineyards with some friends. What a great season!
Enjoy Him where you are today. He enjoys you where you are today; He is with you.