Thursday, February 18, 2010

Walking In The Vineyard

All these years I’ve spent in the vineyard
And yet, have I ever really looked
Into the eyes of the Vinedresser?
He has looked at my fruit
Dreaming of a harvest
He hasn’t yanked me from the ground
He has lovingly – yet firmly
Rubbed His hands with tender care
To smooth my branches clean.
And all that time
Believing in the harvest to come
Dreaming for me
And my whole existence has been for what purpose?
To bear fruit for a Vinedresser
Whose eyes I’ve yet to meet?
I have only seen myself muddied
And producing
An occasional bunch of grapes
And so for me – a change
To meet the eyes of the Vinedresser
To bask in His care
To walk by His side
Through the mist
Every morning
Each day
In the Vineyard

I wrote this poem years ago when I was in the midst of a time of immense change in my relationship with God. I had become very performance oriented in my walk with the Lord and desired to become more intimate and authentic. I love this poem because as I wrote it I was visualizing a walk with God through a vineyard having an intimate conversation. It was written more out of a desire to have that intimacy than actually experiencing it at that time.

I came to a realization that the very essence of a close and intimate relationship with God could be characterized by the very same things that marked my relationships with my close friends. Walking together, sharing my heart, dreams and failures, or quietly sitting and listening. Having a relationship with God wasn’t about what I could do for him; it was about who I was and how I interacted with His will and the truth that I saw in his Word. It was a big shift in my thinking, and it’s something I am still constantly aware of. I long for relationship and not a list to check off to show my worthiness.

I love John 15 and studying that chapter, as well as reading a book called “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson, it helped me to retool my thinking. Verses 1-9 discuss vine and branches and their unique correlation with one another and also the gardener who cares for them. Their cohesiveness depends upon remaining together – which relates to nearness, familiarity or what I would describe as intimacy.

In the second part of John 15 an amazing concept is revealed to the disciples – friendship with their Lord and Teacher and ultimately, God. Jesus says to them in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” This is a time near to Jesus’ death. He is trying to share some important concepts with these men who hold his ministry in their hands; the concept of intimate friendship. He was offering friendship with God in the flesh. They had been with Jesus for years and had seen him perform miracles, pray to God as Abba instead of Yahweh and basically silence the mouths of the Pharisees. I think it’s interesting that one of the important concepts he shares with the disciples near the end of his life is that of intimate friendship. Jesus equates knowing his “business” as companionship. I don’t think this just implies that Jesus has shared only his plans with them, but his heart along the way. That is what closeness involves, a sharing of heart and soul; and it is one of the differences between a friend and an acquaintance. An acquaintance knows you, and has possibly known you for years. But a friend knows what makes you tick, what you love, what drives you crazy or fills your heart with emotion. We can know God in the same intimate way. He wanted the disciples to transfer the intimate friendship they had experienced with him to that of God the Father as well.

My friends have helped me through several very hard times, emotionally and spiritually. I don’t know what I would have done without my closest friends at a time when it felt as if the world was falling out from underneath me. I can honestly say that I desperately needed them, and they made a seemingly unbearable situation bearable. But I didn’t call them in the middle of the night when I was awake and crying on my pillow. I prayed, and talked to my Father, who knew exactly how I felt. He was there, every single minute and situation through the entire ordeal. My Lord was ever-present and aware of my circumstances. I found that genuinely comforting, more so than I ever imagined I could.

It was during that time of uncertainty that I felt the shift occur and my bonds of intimacy with God develop in a stronger way than I ever imagined it could. I felt his presence with me then, and it has grown and deepened since. I long for the daily walks with him through the Vineyard now, and am thankful that I embarked on that journey years ago to go deeper.

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