Beth Moore - Stressed Vines
Grapes are the single most profitable fruit on the planet. See, is it any wonder in our parallel, of all things it is a grapevine Jesus is talking about in John chapter 15 when he speaks of our fruit-bearing. Turn with me there. We're gonna start there again. Verses 1 through 11: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit". I wanna just throw this out to you because somebody in here, you thought, "Well, you know, I guess the reason why he cut that one back is because I didn't manage it well. I didn't do well with it". That's not true.
Do you know that sometimes when you feel like, I'm just gonna use this terminology because it's something we can understand. Sometimes when you feel will like that God is picking on you, it is not because you're doing a poor job. It is because you are a fruit-bearer and he is coming for you, knowing that he can entrust this process to you. He has not picked on you; he has picked you out. I gotta know that sometimes. I gotta know I'm not being picked on; that I'm being picked out, because he believes he can produce much fruit from me. That's what I wanna know.
Verse 3: "Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. But if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full".
So the very first time I perked up and thought, "Oh, I think I'm gonna teach on this," was when we were with a young woman driver who'd come to pick us up at the Little Resort out in the middle of a vineyard and about 20 minutes from Sienna and she drove us in. Well, while we were coming out, I had already seen, when we got in the car and started going down the hill and through it, I had already seen from a little bit of a distance that there were cars parked. We were out in the middle of the country and there were cars parked along the road and I can see people up in the vineyard and I can see what looks like, for lack of a better term to a Texas girl, a combine of some kind, something that's being used to gather up those grapes. And I'm realizing that they're gleaning, I mean, they're harvesting. And those that are on our side of the hill have already been harvested, but I'm seeing they're in the middle of their process.
Well, I'm sitting on that side of the car and I'm in the back seat and I'm just pressed against that window. And I said, "I'm fascinated by it. I'm just fascinated by it". And her English was not great but enough for her to basically say that I was fascinated because there was a lot to be fascinated about. This woman was proud of the part of the world she was from, and she said some words to me that completely riveted me: "Grapes grow in rocky soil. It makes them work harder". And then she smiled and glanced back over the back seat and looked at me and she said, "Stressed vines make the best wines". And I thought, "Oh Lord, have mercy, then I've got some good capability for some good wines coming out of this spirit, because I'm under some stress". Anybody else? "Anybody else"? I thought.
Now, it doesn't get better than that. And I knew right in that moment, that is a lesson if I have ever heard it. The saying still goes: "Struggling vines make better wines". I want you to hear part of an article out from a blogger that is a wine connoisseur out of the UK by the name of Jamie Goode, and he writes this. So give me a couple of paragraphs here but you'll find it so interesting, I think. "More modern methods of growing grapes in close-spaced rows on wire trellising take advantage of the fact that making the vines struggle generally results in better quality grapes. It's a bit like people," he writes, "Place someone in a near-perfect environment, giving them every comfort and all that they could ever want to satisfy their physical needs, and it could have rather disastrous consequences for their personality and physique. If you take a grapevine and make its physical requirements for water and nutrients easily accessible then, somewhat counterintuitively, it will give you poor grapes".
Do you need me to say that to you? This was just like, maybe you're from this part of the country so you get... how many of you knew this? I mean, how many of us didn't? I mean, this is huge. So I wanna say that again. "If you just take a grapevine and you make all of its physical requirements for water and nutrients easily accessible, then it will give you poor grapes. Forgive my anthropomorphism," he says, "but this is because the grapevine has a choice. Given a favorable environment and it will choose to take the vegetative route: that is, it will put its energies into making leaves and shoots. Effectively, it is saying, 'This is a fine spot, I'm going to make myself at home here.' It won't be too bothered about making grapes. But make things difficult for the vine, by restricting water supply, making nutrients scarce, pruning it hard and crowding it with very close neighbors, and it will take the hump. It will sense that this is not the ideal place to be a grapevine. And instead of devoting itself to growing big and sprawling, it will focus its efforts on reproducing itself sexually, which for a vine means making grapes".
Some of you know this. This is just fascinating to me. Did you know that most grapevines, the flowering on most grapevines, the flowers contain both the male and the female? And so they're able to pollinate right there within that branch and within that vine. So the new vine that's grown from this flower, the new branch that's grown from this flowering, from this pollination that it carries on the genetic coding of both the mother and the father. This is in the flower, for crying out loud. Both the mother and the father. So it takes on their genetic coding, but it also adds its own little unique kick to it. So it's itself. It's an offspring, bearing the genetics of its mother and father, but it's also its very own branch. What a gorgeous, gorgeous thought.
And there's this little quote that he says toward the end of it: "Struggling vines concentrate more of their energies on fruit production". I thought, if this is not iconic in the believing life, because we don't want this to be so, I don't want it to be so, but why is it a fact that if we have nothing but a cushion around us all the time, everything just goes easy for us, thing about is we don't produce a lot of fruit. I said to somebody the other day as gently as I knew how, I just want y'all to know, I have a lot of room for growth. Anybody else? 'Cause sometimes something doesn't bring out the best in me.
I said to somebody, "When is the last time you were around anybody in a desperate condition? Do you know anyone that's poor? Do you know a single mother with four kids who's trying to get those things to school"? But, y'all, it's hard. We're already under some stress. We might as well use it. I mean, you could leave today going, "I have the capacity to be a fine wine, 'cause, girl, I am under some stress". You can say to your family, "You have just improved the quality of my wine. I can thank you for this. Thank you, family. Thank you, friends. Thank you, in-laws. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, family holidays. Thank all of you".
Yeah, I got to tell you something. This is what I know, this is what I know, this is what I know. We're gonna get crushed in this life. I'm not speaking that prophetically. I'm speaking that realistically. You cannot live long on planet Earth. I don't even know if you can make it to 18 years old until you've had your heart totally crushed. But can anybody identify with that? I mean, you'll get crushed on this Earth. This is a place, this is a broken Earth. It's a very, very flawed and broken and wounded and fractured planet and we will see all things renewed and we will see God's will done on Earth as it is in heaven. But for now, until the renewing, our globe is groaning.
Romans chapter 8 says that all of creation groans, it's this groaning, the full redemption of the sons and the daughters of God, of the renewal of all things. Just groaning for that day and we're seeing that. But here's what I wanna tell you. Remember we got three life stages of the grape. And it's one of the things that makes it so fascinating. Now, our connoisseurs in this room would have you know, I spoke to a woman this morning who said, "I live in a vineyard," so I think she would want me to make sure that you know that what makes a good table grape does not always make a good wine grape. They're two different kinds of grapes and they're grown a little bit differently. But I do want you to look at the life course of this fruit berry because we have the ripe fruit right here, multi-colored, ripe. Just can eat it right now. We've got raisins a little bit later.
So when it dries up a little bit, we could still, I mean, look, there's still nutrition right here. And then we got the long-term right here. This becomes the wine. This becomes the long-lasting. Well, let me tell you this because this was just profound to me as I started thinking about it. Tables grapes and raisins are pretty affordable. Wouldn't you say so? I mean, they're getting more expensive and it depends on what the level of freezing has been, how produce has been that year from wherever we're shipping it into our grocery stores, but, really, wouldn't you say that table grapes and raisins, affordable. Would you agree with that? But wine starts getting expensive. Starts getting expensive because you know what has had to happen to a grape for it to become wine? It's had to have been crushed.
Now here's what I want to say to you. A whole lot of us have been crushed anyway. Again, then let's use it. Lord, then instead of bringing forth bitter vinegar, bring forth a flowing sweet wine from my life that somebody could taste and see that my God is good. Olives and grapes and grains, all the big harvests of God, all of those things, what they have in common, olive, grapes, and grains, is to become their ultimate food, all three of them have to be pressed and crushed.
Now, listen, I want somebody to stay with me here. I want somebody to stay with me. Here's something that would help us so much. We will be helped a lot in our personal journey with God if we would quit confusing what is a crushing with what is a pressing. I don't mean "oppressing," I mean just pressing. Because there is legit, crushing, but what I wanna suggest to you is that we can have such a shrek over a pressing that we start reacting at a ten to a pressing, and when it comes to a crushing, we got no coping skill whatsoever in the spirit because we already used it all. Or honestly, how in the world are we ever gonna work through brokenness, true brokenness and unfaithfulness in a marriage if we can't even get over the fact that he won't come home for lunch from work? I'm sorry, am I getting on anybody's nerves?
If we're gonna go to church and we're gonna get all hurt because we're not on the Praise Team anymore, we're gonna quit going. Anybody know what I'm talking about? And so when all of a sudden something traumatic happens in our church and there's some kind of family goes through a terrible, well, we can't even show up. Why? Because I'm crushed by the press. There's real-life crushing. Don't be crushed by what was just a press. We can be so over-sensitive. Everything bothers us, everything bothers us. Listen, if you are mad at everyone, you are the common denominator. I learned that one difference between table grapes and wine grapes is that wine grapes have thicker skin. C'mon, now, somebody. Ain't that a beautiful thing? You know, we need thicker skin. Not thicker hearts, not calloused hearts. But here's what I wanna say to you.
Jot down, if you're taking notes, jot down Proverbs 19:11. Proverbs 19:11. Because it says this: "It is to one's glory to overlook an offense". It's to one's glory to overlook an offense. You know, if we're just offended constantly and there's so much offensive stuff going on and we're just wasting all this energy just getting offended at everybody and we're gonna talk back to everybody, we're gonna let them have a piece of our mind, we keep giving a piece of our minds and we got no mind left. "It seems like I don't know where my mind has gone". Well, you've given everybody a piece of it. Is that fair to say? We need to say to you, "I'm not gonna give you a piece of my mind because I need to keep that".
You know, I'm just gonna say if you're over 50, don't give anybody a piece of your mind. You need it. If you're a new mother, don't give anyone a piece of your mind because you need it. You need it. But here's what I think. Remember when in 2 Corinthians 4:8 Paul says, "We are pressed but not crushed"? There are times, legit times, there's crushing. But he's drawing the difference out between the two. Yeah, there's pressure here. Yeah, there's stress here, but we're not crushed here.
I wanna tell y'all something happened exactly a year ago. I was speaking and a lot was weighing on it. And I don't know why it was an inordinate amount of, "Beth, we're just believing God's gonna do it through you. We've been praying for this for years. It's gonna"... Anybody getting this with me? Where I was going like, "Don't. Stop, stop, stop, stop". And it was constant, it was constant, it was constant, it was constant, and it was meant so well and meant for such encouragement but so many, like, pastors had come in and so many leaders had come in, all of 'em going, like, "Beth, we're just, I mean, we're believing he's gonna use you to do it". And I'm just like, "Whoo". Because I'm thinking to myself, "You know what? He's gonna use himself". I need somebody to agree with me on it. I need Jesus to use himself 'cause I'm not big enough for that. I just wanna keep saying, "I'm not that good".
And so I was on my way home. This was the night before the conference started the next morning. And I was with, you know, I don't like to cry in front of people. I'll tear up, but by the time tears are fall, I don't like to do that. And I couldn't, you know, when the damn's bursting and there's just flat nothing you can do, and here it comes? And that was happening. That was happening. And I was in the back seat and hoping nobody was really on to it and, you know, Ron and the driver were in the car. I almost started into the ugly cry. And I told the Lord, my spirit, I was, you know, I got into it. By the time I got home to my hotel room that night, I said it out loud. But I was like, "It's too much. It's too much. Lord, it's too much. It's too much pressure to bear. Lord, sometimes I feel like I'm gonna break".
Sometimes, it's the weirdest thing when you do what I do. People want you to compete with yourself. Like, they'll go, "I'm really believing it's gonna be better than last year". I wish you'd get somebody better then. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Just trying here, do the best I can to just, like, study and somebody goes, "Bring us a fresh word". Well, I just gotta same old one. I don't know what to do with all that kind of stuff. And so, you know, I'm about to say something. This kind of stuff gets me into so much trouble but how many of you feel like, in your heart, God answers you back with something and that the only way you know to communicate it is then you put it in human language. I mean, that's just a normal way. Maybe that's not you. Maybe you're gonna be mad at me. So what? Join the crowd. Write me a letter. No, no, better yet, tweet me in all caps, please. Please.
And so I got back to my room. I'm just like, low. "Lord, honest, are you freaking well gonna break me"? And I had the strangest sense. And the reason why I believed it was God is because this could not have been further from my mind, and it sounds just like something he would say. I had the strangest feeling that God spoke over my heart and went, "I built you for this. I built you for this". And I said, out loud, "You built me for stress"? You know what I heard in my heart? "Yes"! And I was, like, "Okay". It changed my whole year. It's been such a stressful year. Over and over I've said back to him, "You built me for this. You built me for this. I can take this 'cause you built me for this. When you made me, when you put this body together, you made me this way. You made me this way".
I gotta tell you one of the most prominent, iconic, let me say this, iconic features of the vineyard is the trellising. It's the trellising. You know what I'm talking about? Because we see it right here. When it grows up on a trellis on some kind of a... it can grow up a tree. When one of my articles said: "A grapevine will grow up anything. You put it next to anything. If we stood still long enough behind it, it would grow up us". And so I just found that to be so interesting, how a vine can climb virtually anything. And you know, y'all, I love pines so much. But, you know, we've all heard of climate change so I wanna just put a little bit of different wording on that and make it "Climb-It Change". You know what I'm talking about? You want a change? Climb the thing. Climb the thing.
Vines are made for trellising. They're made to grow up something. There's this wonderful verse. You can write it down: Genesis 49:22: "Joseph is a fruitful bough, by a spring; and his branches run over the wall". He's talking about a fruitful vine. He's talking about you up against a wall. Grow over it, climb the thing and grow over it. Don't just go over it, grow over it. Productive vines learn to climb what they're up against. But God had two ways in his Word for his people of faith to deal with tall things like mountains. He said, "By faith, move 'em or climb 'em". Climb 'em. If it won't move, climb the thing. Climb the thing. Get on top of it.