“I am the true vine.” John 15:1

Growing up in New Jersey, I didn’t have a lot of experience with vineyards, although the wine industry is really taking off there now. However, moving to the heart of Washington wine country has taught me a lot about agriculture in general and given me a new insight into this particular I am statement. No one plants a vineyard and then just leaves it alone to see how it does. Vines require a lot of labor, pruning and science to produce the very best fruit possible. Grapes (or really anything a farmer plants) are a huge investment of time and of money. Farmers are incredibly attentive to their crops, sometimes rising in the middle of the night or working through multiple days to tend to their plants.

Jesus and the Father are that way with us. Jesus is a true vine, filled with all the nutrients we need to grow in faith, hope, and love. God is a good vinedresser, attentive to each branch, pruning where needed and nourishing as well. Sometimes part of our branch needs to be cut off to ensure the health of the plant, and even though that feels painful and unnecessary to us, God knows what we need even when we can’t see the whole picture of the vineyard from our place on the vine.

Looking back on my faith life since I really became serious about loving God when I was twelve, I can see many times where I was being pruned. Now it’s easy to see some of the ways God was working in my life, both as the pruner and as the shelter of a true vine in times of difficulty. But sometimes in the moment you don’t know that you are being pruned. Or sometimes you do and you hate the way it feels anyway. That’s ok. Take that fear and discomfort to the true vine. Jesus knows what it is like to face pain and fear. He won’t leave you to face it alone.

For today: I will think back on the last 5 years (if possible) of my faith journey. Where has God been active in my life, both at the true vine and also as the vinedresser? Are there any places I can see the evidence of pruning?