“A machine can do work; only life can bear fruit. A law can compel work; only love can spontaneously bring forth fruit. Work implies effort and labor; the essential idea of fruit is that it is the silent, natural, restful produce of our inner life.”- Andrew Murray, The True Vine
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”- Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)
As an infant and young child, my mother Elinor once wrote, I displayed an interest in everything around me. In addition, I possessed acute observational skills and had a good memory. Because I loved stories, Mom always read me a story before bedtime prayers. And once I started to walk alone at seventeen months, I ran everywhere. Hence Mom’s love of the harness!
Above all, I inherited my Uncle Elmer’s ear for music. During my toddler years, I insisted on taking my musical pull-toy along on walks. At the age of three, my parents bought me a cheap portable record player. My first choice of records? An album of marches. Also, my parents enrolled me in a children’s record club – my first introduction to classical music.
Before your birth, God selected you and established your sense of place. Writing in Chasing Vines, Beth Moore describes terrior (pronounced ‘ter-war’) as one of the loveliest terms in viticulture. She cites Robert White’s (Understanding Vineyard Soils) definition:
“You can see it’s relationship to the word terre, meaning ‘earth’, but terrior encompasses more than ground. It captures the interplay between factors such as soil, climate, the plant itself, and its orientation toward the sun. Together, these factors ultimately shape the ‘personality’ of the resulting fruit.”
In the natural science of viticulture, Beth reports, the first two steps in planting a vineyard involve: (a) selecting a vineyard and (b) choosing a vineyard site. Jesus, our Vinedresser, follows the same order. However, we’re more inclined to choose the place first, then the person. But God works just the opposite. As Beth underscores, God chose you on purpose! Not because you happened to arrive at the right place at the right time. Or because He couldn’t find anyone better within arm’s reach. There’s no ambiguity here: you matter!
Finally, Beth observes, some mysteries in viticulture defy scientific explanation. The finest vinedressers plant a vine in a perfect spot, choose the right climate, and strive for consistency in watering and fertilizer. But sometimes the soil fails to comply – and no one controls the weather. Neighbor vines produce vastly different grapes. Therefore, Beth compares this mystery to our desire for a sense of place:
“Nothing haunts us more than our search for, finally, a sense of place. As it turns out, true belonging is found only in the sovereign palm of God. There alone we find our place, even amid seasons of moving, planting, uprooting, and replanting. It’s only where we find our place in Him that we find rest.
Though the path of discovery is often painful, the discovery itself can be a relief — and not only to us. It gives us space to spread out and grow, and it relieves our other loves of a burden too big to carry. And then we can bear mysterious fruit.”