I haven't blogged in a while because I have been working really, really hard on the vineyard. I had the misconceived notion that the hard work on a vineyard took place during the spring, summer and fall months. Well that idea came from a city slicker who didn't have a clue as to how hard a farmer has to work during the winter months. Especially when you are on a slim budget like we are and you can't pay for people to do everything for you. I had to beg, bribe and borrow to get people to come and help us prune our vineyard. It was a task that I am glad that I did, but hope I can have the funds next year to get it done by professionals. It was kind of like running a marathon and you had to keep pushing yourself harder and harder to try and finish.
Now that prunning for the season is complete, we get the fun task of cleaning up the branches and weed wacking the weeds between the vines. We then rake the debris into the middle of the rows and haul it to the back of the property where I will hopefully figure out a way to get rid of it.
Much like learning the pruning process, we struggled to figure out the most efficient way to haul the debris to the back of the property. Our friend Carolynne (a former farmer) came up with a good strategy. Her idea was to put the branches on a tarp and pull it to the end of the row. This strategy was working out pretty well until we realized that there were so many branches (due to us having 3 years of vine growth because it was a foreclosure and we just bought it in August) that it became very heavy and hard to pull even with two people pulling the tarp. So I added to her idea and tied up the tarp to the tractor hitch, so now my John Deere is doing the hard work for us.
When LJ and I were hanging out this morning we decided to walk by our vineyard debris pile and he thought it was some sort of fort that he could play in.
I feel like going into some deep thoughts here. In pruning my vineyard and picking up the branches I have a new appreciation for John 15: 1-8 "The Vine & the Branches". One of the final moments Jesus had with his disciples is when he took them to a vineyard. Side note: It could of been a Petite Sirah vineyard because I read a stat that 90% of the grapes grown in Israel are Duroc. Petite Sirah is descendant of the Duroc grape. Ok, back to the deep thought: Jesus wanted to do this learning lesson actually in the place that he was going to teach them one of the final parables of his ministry on earth.
Jesus said, 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." Being a new farmer I have realized how hard this life is day in and day out and if God is the gardener, he must be a workaholic. ;-)
Jesus goes on and says,
2 "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." I have learned through this whole pruning process that every vine can only support so much growth before it starts to effect the fruit of the vine. Last harvest my grapes were smaller than normal and the vineyard only yielded about half its capacity because the vines were not pruned the winter before. The vines were supporting too many branches that were growing down and sideways that, as a result, bore no fruit and took up to much energy of the vine. The vine only has so much energy and life it can give, so when it is supporting branches that are not supporting the growth of grapes then they are hurting the vine production and profitability of the vine. The branches that could bear fruit were from the shoots growing up. However in winter, when the grape vines are dormant, a farmer leaves two bud notches from last year's growth and clips the rest of the vine. When this happens the vine becomes more fruitful during the next harvest because the grapes get bigger, resulting in a more profitble vine and harvest.
4 "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." I find it interesting that Jesus used this analogy because the farmer is the one who has to do the hard work. The farmer in this parable is God and He knows how to get the most out of each vine and each branch. Sometimes in life we don't know why God opens doors and shuts doors or gives us things and then takes them away. But Jesus is telling you and me not to worry because if we remain in relationship with the vine then it ultimately will make you more blessed then you are now. I also learned by pruning my vineyard and reading this parable that it is not by your hard work that makes things happen, because God is the farmer not us. In addition, we cannot receive all that God wants to bless us with if we do not remain connected to the "vine" which is Jesus. Or receive God's blessing when we are trying to be the farmer of our lives and not let Him be the farmer and make the decisions needed to make our lives more blessed in the future.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." I want to encourage our blog readers with this: I believe that God wants to bless you and me, but to receive this blessing there is a secret formula He is sharing with us. To be blessed with everything He has in store for our lives we need to constantly live in relationship with the "vine" (Jesus) and let the "gardener" (God) be the decision maker .
As a banker I talk with many people who are going through hard times. Heck, Beck and I have been struggling with things ourselves. I have to find hope in this verse that there are doors that are not opening and there are things getting taken away. But if I just do the simple thing of remaining in the love of the "Vine" then I can assure myself and my family that the "Gardener" is going bless our family and take care of our every need.
-Thanks for reading another blog by JP on This Vine Life.