(This series of devotionals spanned over a three year period of my life. I wrote out of truths that God shared with me throughout every season of this process. I love how he brought this all together and I pray that you will receive encouragement from what he allowed me to experience. Praise His Name!)
I am in an in-between place in my life right now. I'm not here or there. I'm at the half-way mark. At least I hope I am. I'm not sure yet because I can't really see the end or the finish. I know I'm working toward something. I just can't see what the something is. This place is sometimes referred to as the waiting period, the meanwhile time or the in-between. Whatever you'd like to call it I'm there.
The thing is, even though I'm here, there is still plenty to do. There is a ton to learn. There is work to be done. It's just unfortunately the kind of work that is underground. Right now there is no tangible evidence of the work to see and it feels like I'm killing myself for nothing. Can I get a witness?
This is what discourages me. This is what makes it hard. This is why we sometimes quit. The in-between is not fun. Sometimes while we are here we tend to forget that this place is where the Lord is doing the majority of His work.
I was reading John 15 this week. The famous lesson about the vine and branches. I've heard it a million times and you probably have too, but it meant something new to me. A fresh word that I needed to hear in this in-between season. Jesus simply says,
"I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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." John 15:1-2
If you were to look up the pruning process of grapevines (which I did because I'm a nerd and that's how I love to study the Bible) you would learn a whole lot of amazing facts. The most interesting to me is it is a three year process in order for a new vine to have the potential to produce grapes.
Three years! And that is just for the potential for production.
So with this series of devotionals over the in-between, we will examine some words of wisdom from the friendly grape grower at the website grapegrowingguide.com to help explain this fascinating process and hopefully offer some encouragement for those of us who may be in midst of the in-between.
Here is the intro:
"Don't let this scare you. Most new grape growers fail because they do not prune enough. It's really simple, pruning and training are performed in order to optimize the production potential of the grape vine."
I've got to tell you, I get this author. I seriously laughed so loud at the opening sentence. I love that it starts out with not being scared! We are all to some degree scared of the process of spiritual pruning. The Bible refers to this as suffering. We understand that cutting away any part of us hurts. But look at the last sentence when it states it is to optimize production. In order to bear fruit there will be things cut off. Listen to this:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Romans 5:3
Take this truth to heart and let it encourage you. Only vines that have been pruned can persevere to produce fruit.
Only vines that have been pruned can persevere to produce fruit.
This is truth. It's not popular or fun, but if you want to produce fruit there has to be a pruning. A cutting away of the unnecessary so what remains is optimized for production. I can't forget that the reasoning behind this is so I will be even more fruitful.
There is more to talk about and discuss because of the three years worth of pruning! But, we'll get to that next time. Just for today and just what I needed and maybe you did too, is that this work that sometimes seems so very hard and not worth the effort will be someday. God is laying a foundation for optimal fruit bearing and in the process He is stripping away things that hinder us.
Here is what I'm going to do in light of this truth. Embrace the in-between. You heard me! I'm going to wake up everyday and recognize that this place is God's will for me right now. I've got Peter to back me up.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7
Take comfort in these words. The in-between is doing something greater than we could ever imagine!
All grape growing quotes from: http://www.grapegrowingguide.com/grape-pruning.html
All scripture from NIV, ESV and NLT translations.