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Whispers from The Vineyard

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1

On Sunday past, my family and I were invited to go along to the Barossa Valley, apparently Australia’s most famous wine-growing region.

Driving through the area, we were surrounded by various hues of brown, orange and burnt sienna – scenes taken straight from an artist’s canvas, it seemed. It was as if God Himself

had replaced His Summer shades with His Autumn colours, and splashed these across the countryside in one magnificent stroke after another.

I marvelled at the vines planted meticulously in near perfect parallel rows, each vine reflecting the hard work and dedication of the farmer who had taken the time and effort to plant them. I observed one farmer slowly and carefully moving through his vineyard pruning away the deadwood, the lifeless branches that were sapping the vine of its nutrients, but in themselves producing no fruit.

What caught my eye as we were travelling along were the clusters of grapes that had not been harvested but had been left on the vines to rot. To my untrained eye these bunches of grapes looked like any other, and appeared perfectly useable. Upon enquiry as to why they’d been left behind, the explanation given by our very knowledgeable driver (who is also one of the lecturers at the seminary I am currently studying at) was this: During the summer months there were unusual rainfall patterns. As a result of the excessive watering, the grapes developed severe cases of mildew infestation. Mildewed grapes are of no use in the process of winemaking.

I got thinking about this. The rain which should have been a blessing to the vineyard-keepers and their vineyards, became a curse.With the rain should have come refreshing and life. Instead, its accompaniment was disease and death.

What was the determining factor between life and death, I asked myself? Between nourishment and disease? The answer I arrived at: It was all about the timing! If only the rain had come when it was due season. If only the deluge had been released at a different stage of the growth cycle – the effects would not have been as devastating.

Friends, has this been your experience? You have found yourself in the wrong place along the continuum of time? What would have been a blessing at any other time, or under different circumstances – an investment, a love, a friendship, a business venture– has turned out to be a torrential downpour of devastation, destruction and despair. Things could have been so different in a different season, in a different time.

Well Friend, for the mildewed grapes, there is no hope. They will wither, they will dry up, and they will fall from the vine.

For you however, there is always hope! Father God, the Gardener Extraordinaire, is able to restore that which the locust of lament has eaten; that which the mildew of mishap has infested; that which the torrents of testing have threatened to tear down! Jesus Christ, the True Vine will nourish and nurse you back to a place of healing, where you in turn can minister healing to others, when your crushing can bring an increase to the lives of others. That which you thought was bad timing or an ill-timed decision may well have been an entry on Heaven’s calendar or agenda whereby you along with your experience, were being prepared for the appointed time when you would “shew forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9.

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