When difficulty comes…..

Our trip to France was filled with a fairy tale wedding and time to wander down old towns with a feasting of the eyes and an ear to heaven.

We were in Bordeaux for a week and it is wine country. Fields of vines that were being prepared for the next harvest. Miles and miles of land that was all awaiting the warmth of Spring and Summer.

I knew the land had lessons it wanted to pass along and I’m always a hungry to learn.  I was amazed at the canes that protruded from the earth with what appeared to be two arms lifted up in a stance of worship.

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Acre upon acre the land was filled with old weathered vines with arms uplifted.  They had survived years of bearing fruit and every year they get pruned back to their bare beginnings.

In Scripture, Jesus refers to the vine and the branches as he is the vine and we are the branches and that metaphor is profound in its own right. But there was another metaphor to see right before my eyes.

I saw these weathered vines with lifted arms and imagined them to be mature disciples of Jesus. Every year we are to bear fruit. Young shoots come off of the main vine and bear fruit. Did you know that a cane (branch) can only bear great fruit one time before it needs to be cut off and replanted become a mature vine, or thrown out? If it gets planted and takes, then it is not allowed to bear fruit for two or three years until the root system is substantial enough to allow it to send nutrients to new vines.  

Every year the pruning to mature vines is drastic, leaving nothing but the original vine and a couple of canes.

I saw the connection. Last year’s fruit in my life is not what I lean on. Yesterday is gone and today requires new shoots, new disciples, new growth in relationships.

Remember, fruit is produced on the current season’s growth, that in turn grows from last season’s wood. Heavy pruning provides the best fruit. Light pruning results in large yields of poor-quality fruit; very heavy pruning produces too much vegetative growth and very little or no fruit. There are lessons to be learned in this life cycle.

I’m a gardener and I remember when I was first learning about how to care for roses that I was mortified at how much of the canes I had to cut back. At first, I ignored the sound advice and just snipped at the roses. In no time at all, I had diseases roses on my hands. Then I became bolder and understood why the cuts needed to be made. Though I still wince when I cut off what looked like a perfectly good set of buds. It’s amazing how God prunes our lives. At times the cuts are at our ego because that ego has a way of spreading the “me” disease on everything.  I never know where God will actively prune my life.

The encouragement I received was in looking at the vines (mature disciples) with uplifted arms, waiting for Spring and Summer so that the harvest can come. Knowing that the shoots that are grown will one day become strong canes that take their place in the land.

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Life at times feels brutal and you wonder if you can stand it but know if that is the season you are in, you are poised to bear the best fruit, just like the grapevines in France. 

Though it feels like barrenness, it is at the hand of the vigneron.

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We are in good hands. I pray this blesses you the way it blessed me.

We worship and wait as we prepare for the Spring and Summer.

A Micro look at a Mega church

I should begin with the fact that I am not a church hopper.  The very fact that I am in search of another church body bothers me more than it can anybody else.  I’ve belonged to one church for the last 12 years and was involved with them from the start in many different ways.  I should also add that I love them dearly and that church will never be out of my heart or spirit.  They have blessed our whole family beyond measure.

Now my husband and I are in a new stage in life and we both believe that we are following God prompts as we try to figure out a new place of worship.  Here are a few shocking discoveries for me.

  • It is extremely hard to feel welcomed or part of a huge mega service.
  • People shake your hand and hand you a bulletin but they are basically doing a job as fast as they can and it feels very automatic and not very welcoming when you don’t know anyone.
  • The lights and music can overwhelm all your senses when there isn’t any kind of introduction or easing into a service.
  • Every culture of worship is different and the only people who are comfortable with it are those that have been around for a long time.
  • In has taken months to get a response back when inquiring about belonging to a small group.

These are not criticisms but they are observations.

There are wonderful aspects to this process.  One thing is that you can feel the energy of thousands as they worship fully.  When this body of Christ focuses on a project, they are able to make a huge impact.  The teaching is great and very different than we are accustomed.

But I cannot get over how lost and like an outsider I feel weekly.  It gives me a new appreciation for how other new people are affected when they approach a service.  I’ve been following the Lord my whole life. We will be just fine as we figure out how to connect into the mega church structure but I have a new respect for how hard others have it that may be just seeking out faith issues.