I recently went on a tour of a grape farm up in California’s central valley. I had been on tours of the farms of the central valley before as I have family who is from there. And each time I am immersed in this farming world, God always speak to me about it through His Word. The Bible is filled with farming and planting analogies and often I feel there’s always more we can learn from those analogies is by experiencing farming ourselves. We might not grow our own food anymore but the art (or science) of farming hasn’t changed! So in a different type of blog post today, I am going to share a little more of what God showed me during this grape farm tour.
Its all about the soil!
This farm was nestled below the foothills in the beginnings of the sierra nevadas, which are only 50 miles west. This land was never intended to be farmland, especially grape farm land but the farmer’s predecessor saw the land and believed he could make grapes grow from this rocky dense clay soil. It was not sought out land but the farmer saw it and invested in it. I think that point is so important because I think in our lives we often don’t see ourselves as the good land that can grow good fruit on. We see ourselves as the forgotten piece of land, written off from ever being able to be made into a rich produce of good fruit. But that’s not what God sees. As our Farmer, he sees us as land and soil worth investing in.
And looking outwardly as we look towards other people, its the same way. Often the person far off and looked over is the very one God says is land that can grow good grapes. We must always have eyes like that farmer of what is possible.
To a farmer, soil is so important. As this farmer gave us a tour, what I began to realize is that a big part of his work was about taking care of the soil. He was constantly testing the soil, testing for the right acidity and right mineral balance and treating the soil in specific areas where the balance was off. He even was able to look at his vines and the growth from the soil and tell where the soil quality was low. He also pointed out that you must always treat specific areas of the soil because if you treat the soil the same everywhere, it will ruin some of the good grape vines.
Soil’s Parallel in Life
I think this is the same as the soil of our hearts. In the parable of the sower, Jesus referred to people’s hearts as soil where good seed went in. Jesus also emphasized that if the soil was too rocky or too weedy, the word of God would never get in. I think it is so important to know the soil of our hearts, to know where there is good soil and to know where there is soil that needs to be treated. We all don’t have perfect soil in every area of our lives but as we allow the washing of the Holy Spirit in areas that feel rocky or hard, we can develop good soil everywhere. If we don’t constantly work on the soil of our hearts, we could very well be missing good seed that is being planted from God’s word.
Treating specific areas of the soil can be seen corporately as well. Each heart and person is different and each person’s soil might need a different treatment to help get it growing better and more abundant fruit. I think as farmers in other people’s lives, it’s so important to be able to evaluate the growth of other people’s vines to see where they may need more care and treatment of that area.
“But he replied to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, [just] one more year until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit after this, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”Luke 13:8-9 AMP
One last thought I want to leave you with. A farmer takes care of his vines all year round but grapes only grow on the vines once a year. If timed well, a farmer could have a crop coming from different vines for several months but even then, there is a significant period where his vines are not producing a harvest. But, care of his vines is a daily and ongoing responsibility. If he were to leave his vines after they stopped producing fruit, they would fall into disarray and never produce fruit again. No, care of his vines is a year round endeavor. I think this easily has direct application in our own lives as well as in our care of others. Its okay if you’re in a season of not producing fruit. Guess what, you weren’t designed to! But continue to take care of your vines, watering them and tending the soil knowing that in due time—harvest times—good fruit will come!