Around the world, harvests are underway. Seeds that were planted years ago have yielded fruit that is finally ripe enough to be picked, sorted and tasted. This is the season for which a winemaker, farmer and gardener has planned, prepared and patiently waited.
By God’s design, nature often parallels the Christian’s journey with Jesus.
In our own lives, we have stretching seasons of sowing– scattering seeds of Truth on the soil of hearts and praying for God to take root in the lives of those we love.
We have seasons of growth where a bud of promise breaks through in our lives or in those we have discipled.
We have necessary periods of pruning that result in bearing greater fruit, periods of reaping what we’ve sown (both good and bad), and times of painful pressing, all so that our lives can be poured out for others to taste and see that the Lord is good.
This cycle of the harvest is a perfect and complete process directed by the Winemaker, our Father in heaven, to perfect us in Him.
It is fitting that when Jesus commanded his apostles to abide in Him, He used the illustration of the vine. All throughout Israel where He lived and ministered were vineyards and olive orchards.
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vineyard keeper … So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine” (John 15:1, 4).
Jesus is the true vine and we, believers in Him, are the branches connected to Him; the result of abiding in Jesus is producing fruit for the vineyard, His kingdom.
As branches we are completely dependent on the Vine. His life flows through us. Every resource and nutrient we possess comes directly from Him. Apart from the Vine, we are both fruitless and lifeless.
Seasons with the Savior
As we abide in Jesus, we will have spring times of newness and restoration, summers of scorching trials, autumns of change and loss, and winters where our relationship with Him seems dormant or certain habits in our life must die. We can expect that these seasons will come and change as suddenly and unpredictably as the wind blows.
We must believe that all seasons – pleasant or painful - are productive with the Savior.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24).
The death of Christ was the most wretched winter that brought forth the most blessed spring for all mankind, through His resurrection. The cycle of those seasons were planned, prophesied and permitted by God.
Because God never changes, His plans for us do not either. Our seasons are not a surprise to Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the vineyard Keeper. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Each season has purpose and intentionality. Nothing is wasted.
The time from when a seed is planted and the fruit is harvested can seem long and daunting. We can wait many seasons for a prayer to be answered, for a bud to break into ripened, usable fruit. We can languish in the waiting, and weeds of doubt and unbelief can spring up and try to choke out promises that were planted long ago.
A supernatural patience is required that, like a winemaker, hopes in faith for the harvest to come.
What season are you in right now?
Are you sowing into a family member, friend, colleague or ministry through prayer, Scripture and discipleship? Are your arms tired and weary?
Are you experiencing personal growth or seeing an area where you have prayed and plowed and labored develop from a tiny seed into a mighty oak?
Are you being pruned – cut back and cut off from some of the very things that could actually prohibit abundance?
Are you being pressed by a trial, squeezed to the point of feeling spent and empty?
Are you pouring your fruit-filled heart and testimony out for the sake of others?
In the Lord’s vineyard, seasons can be simultaneous.
We can be sowing seeds for one thing while reaping the blessing or consequence of another, while being pruned and pressed for another.
Your growth as well as your pressing, if done joyfully, can sow seeds of faith into the lives of others.
These coinciding seasons indicate spiritual productivity and are cause for worship. But instead of delight it can often bring discouragement and despair. We can lose sight of the harvest that is to come, on earth and in heaven.
Are you finding it easy or difficult to rejoice in the season you are in?
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8), in seasons where we flourish and in seasons where we wither; therefore, He is worthy of our praise at all times.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
The result of abiding in Jesus is a closeness to Him that brings refinement and a deepened trust, in spite of the season.
The deeper our roots go with Him, the more we will bear resemblance to Him.
We can have confidence knowing these seasons are not a random series of events in a chaotic and fallen world but part of a carefully crafted plan to return us to the true self and image of God, for the glory of God.
We can worship the Winemaker in all seasons, because we know His purpose is a holy harvest that will produce in us the choicest of wine, to be poured out and drank up at His table of grace - for today and into eternity.
“Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt your name, for you have accomplished wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness….
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world.
It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat” (Isaiah 25:1, 6).
The harvest will come. Worship the Winemaker!