I’ve never been much of a wine drinker.

Jesus was at meals and stuff, and at least one wedding – which is great for him. But for me, most of my life I have been unable to appreciate the stuff.  However, this past week I was able to go visit with family where they grow great wines and great grape vines. And while I don’t really like wine, I was fascinated by how they are made, particularly how grapes are grown.

The best grapes are planted in soil that is nutritive poor volcanic soil. They are given about a gallon of water when they are young, and then never watered again. With an annual rainfall of less than 25 inches a year, this makes for a harsh existence.  The grape vines struggle to get their roots into the ground. They fight around the rocky soil to push to get every spare mineral and every drop of water. And then on top of that, they try to produce grapes – after all, they are grape vines. It is a rough way to grow grapes. These plants also produce the best of grapes. Out of the struggle and the desire to grow, and the fight for every mineral and ounce of water, these grape vines produce the best berries.

And then there is the issue of disease, insects, and forms of decay that attack the roots, so much so that a traditional grape bearing vine can’t make it. Instead, the gardener plants a root-stock that is hardy, that can take it, that is disease resistant, and then grafts the grape vine onto it. It’s still a hard life, but the grape plant has a chance to make it now. Without this rootstock, the grapes would wither and die, and there would be no grapes. But with this hardy rootstock, the grapes can push through the soil, and can resist disease, and can make it as grapes – and produce the very best. To me, that rootstock sounds like Jesus.

He is the base of the plant that gives us the strength to make it through whatever poor soil we have been planted. That even as there is little water, God gives us strength in Christ to meet our needs and to keep us growing. And that at the end of the day, every obstacle and rock we have made it around, has made us stronger and the fruit we produce even sweeter. Christ is there supporting us through the times that it rains and the times that no rain falls. He is our strength, and our redeemer, and our vine – and we are better plants because of it.

…And Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Let us grow in Christ together, and blessings upon you this week!