i got to thinking about how Papa speaks to us through His works, as my Artist-Teacher showed off another of His creations.
recently i spoke with a precious heart sister who has been broken over the last few years by career difficulties for her husband and almost unbearable difficulties in adopting a baby boy. they, along with their four beautiful daughters, have visited and bonded with this little boy over a long distance, and dishonesty and lack of follow-through on the part of those they've trusted has them in a waiting period that breaks the hearts of them and their children. i tried to encourage my friend that this time of brokenness will lead to a beautiful place, where the working of Jesus will be evident in their family's life. as i spoke, i realized that our family has just come into the sunshine in many ways from just such a period of darkness.
a couple of years ago, we walked through several events back-to-back that left us stunned at the brokenness of man and the ability we have to absentmindedly break the hearts of another. to be honest, there were times i lay on the shower floor, water beating down on me, praying my children wouldn't hear, crying desperately for release, and wondered if i'd survive the hurt. i wrestled with my Father and wondered that He still noticed me, much less loved me. and yet years later, i see with crystal clarity the ways He used each of these situations to teach us gently and severely, again, of His love and faithfulness. i settle, for the moment, in the peace He has wrought in a life that, while still broken, reflects a little more of his refining.
i'm enamored with the beauty of a row of vines, growing magically on their precisely lined up twine rows. i am innately curious about the process that takes an already perfect piece of fruit, and refines it into an experience. i'm intrigued by how our Lord formed this liquid sweetness by His first miracle, yet our natural tendency to thwart the blessings he longs to lavish us with, leads many to abuse or refuse this gift of nature and artistry.
i think to myself, this is what we do. Papa gives us an entire garden, and says of one tiny piece of real estate, "don't touch." and just like my little Blue (thanks, Papa, for the daily reminder...), we run straight toward the forbidden fruit.
he offers us beauty of married love, and says only, "wait," and we dive headlong into dangerous waters that leave the un-self-disciplined hurting and wanting.
little Blue had to taste the unripe grapes. we stopped him, fit-pitching, at just a few, but he'd have eaten a whole sour bunch, mindless of a coming stomach ache. and yet, if he knew to just wait a bit longer, the rich, wet sweetness of a ripe grape would be his to savor.
this process of plant, train, wait, press, ferment, wait, so symbolizes our life in Him. He plants the seed of His grace in our hearts. He trains us to follow the best, most healthy way. we can fight it, and we will be sadly fruitless. we must wait for His sweetness to develop through obedience, through dry days and hot sun and oh, at long last, refreshing water. sometimes storms come along and nearly wipe us out, and then it may be years again before edible fruit can be harvested.
He presses us, sometimes unbearably, to release the liquid beauty of His love, and we can do nothing but bear it. sometimes He will even allow our own "yeast," the sin of our choosing, or the brokenness of the world, to break us down into an aged and beautiful wine, our color deepened and richer through time, and through suffering.
but when the pain is done, we may be poured out like a drink offering, and oh, God, the privelege is indescribable.
and because of His faithfulness as the winemaker, we are a glorious and satisfying offering.