The Grape Vine Story
My dad has this grape vine that he has been cultivating carefully for the past five years. Prior to planting the seed, he dug a little two feet deep plot, picking out jagged rocks, broken pottery, and gnarled roots in the process. He then filled the freshly dug plot with store bought manure and potting soil rich with nutrients. A few days later, a minuscule, green shoot poked shyly out of the ground.
In the vine’s infancy, my dad would water it daily with meticulous care so as not flood the soil or leave it parched. When leafy weeds invaded, he’d promptly pull them out, roots and all.
When it grew large enough to merit a makeshift stake made from a splintered board, I went out to take a gander at the new addition to the garden. I was, without a doubt, far from impressed.
Barely three feet tall, with no accolades of fruit swaying from its delicate tendrils, it seemed hardly deserving of notice compared to some of the other titans in the garden. Just a few feet away stood a lemon tree, triumphant with blossoms perfuming the air and lively with the buzz of bees. On the other side of the house towered lush palms and taro that had staked their roots during the era of the previous owner.
Meanwhile, the seasons flew by. Fall waltzed into the garden with its crisp leaves and cool evenings before withering away into winter. Winter graced all the foliage with light dustings of frost and sporadic showers before melting into Spring. With spring the garden filled again with the aroma of lemons and roses. Come summer again and the cycle repeats.
Eventually, I headed for college, and forgot all about the grape vine. In my absence, it continued to flourish, weaving its way through the wooden lattice my dad had gifted it to guide its growth. On occasion, tiny bulbs of grapes would speckle its twisting frame. Though my dad found them worthy of boasts, because they never exceeded its store bought counterparts in either size nor taste, I continued to neglect its presence whenever I returned home on breaks.
Pent up nowadays in the face of the pandemic, I’ve taken a fancy to simply standing outside under the sun as a way to ease my eyes off the plethora of screens glaring inside.
Today, after following my dog to her favorite plot of grass under the shade of the grape leaves, I looked up and was startled at the sight awaiting me.
Resting upon the trellis my dad had built, it curved gracefully above my head in a network of verdant branches, most laden with long clusters of burgeoning grapes. I lifted a hand to feel its soft, veiny leaves and its strong, sturdy stem as a realization dawned on me.
It amazes me how faithfully God has nourished this once little and unimpressive sapling of three feet into this marvelous and intricate vine that not only collects sunlight and dew for itself but also kindles new life with the life endowed to its body. All this began with just one seed one-tenth the size of my thumbnail. What a miracle.
Just as God made the plant grow, He is also the one who strengthens our faith. Just as God sent an attentive gardener to plant and water it, so does God send people–mentors, friends, parents, pastors–into our lives to guide us.
There is a rather famous parable in the Bible that analogizes the growth of one’s faith with the growth of a seed. In it, Jesus claims that the kingdom of God “is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade” (Mark 4:31-32).
I find it mind blowing that God is a God who never scorns the small, the weak, and the seemingly unfruitful. He is a God who is both infinite in size and power yet who looks upon the bruised reed and the smoldering wick with compassion. In fact, the Bible teems with examples of God deliberately choosing to use the unlikeliest of unlikely for His glory.
Abraham was seventy-five and childless when God promised that he would have a son and not only that but also become a father of nations. Moses had spent forty years as an Egyptian prince in luxury and another forty years as a shepherd in the wilderness before God called him to lead Israel out of slavery. King David’s story began with him entering a sword fight with a couple rocks in hand. Paul hated Christians, slaying them left and right, before handing his life over to Christ to become one of the boldest Christian in history.
How a seed looks is not at all reflective of the plant it grows into. Let’s say you’re someone who’s lived in a barren desert all your life. Then one day someone shows you a grape seed. Never in a million years would you imagine that, that tiny tear shaped pod can sprout into a vine seven feet in height, double that in length, and produce fruit by the pound year after year.
I think it’s the same with people. When the seed of faith first takes root in someone’s heart , how that person appears at the time does not reflect what they can become under God’s careful, tender care. Just five years ago when my dad planted the vine, I could have never pictured myself with the newfound identity in Christ that I now posses. From a depressed, unhappy high schooler to now, God really has changed me inside out.
What about you? Perhaps some of you are nodding along, reminiscing to when your own seed of faith was just beginning to quiver with growth. Perhaps some of you are scratching your heads, thinking to yourselves, “Seeds? Grapes? Parable? What?” Whoever you may be, I just have one last message of truth. God is able to work wondrous, marvelous, mind-blowing things in your life. All you need to offer Him right now is a little bit of faith, even if that faith is as small as a grape seed.
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