Thursday, July 14, 2016

Grapes Grace and Glory

Grace grapes and glory.
You may remember when I shared about how happy I was to plant the these "sticks in the ground."( Read Grapes and the Gardener here. ) No root, no leaves and certainly no fruit. I soaked them in a rooting hormone for a week, then babied and sweet-talked the sticks in their infancy with all the encouragement I could muster. You can imagine how very proud I was of their first tender pink leaves. They soon put out lovely little tendrils and held on to their line (clothes line strung between posts) for dear life. The more the vine held to the line, the more the foliage grew and gathered nourishment for the root system and the fruit to come later.

There was some pruning involved now and then. I didn’t enjoy it one little bit, cutting those beautiful vines that I encouraged to grow, yet it was necessary to train the vines into the proper position and to make the vine able to bear the fruit that was yet to come.

Grapes oon the vine.
The purpose of a grape vine is to (you guessed it) produce grapes! This was the year, and it was worth the wait. Cluster upon cluster of lovely purple pods of juiciness hung from vines that showed extraordinary brute strength and stamina to just to bear the load.

More pampering for each little cluster, flicking off Japanese beetles and spreading out the vines to avoid crowding. They were inspected every day for health and readiness for consumption, until this week when their color revealed they were ripe for the picking.
Brought from outside
into the master's house.

I didn’t have a way to explain to them why I was doing it but, I carefully selected and snipped these precious bundles and brought them in, so the canning could begin. They couldn’t have known they were chosen for a wonderful purpose. 

Their first stop is the sink for a washing. I gently removed each grape from its family stem and tossed them into a colander. Now, they appeared pretty clean so when a large hairy spider ran for his life, (over my finger) I almost did too. He didn’t make it. I did. (May he rest in peace.) Two more crawlies were discovered and removed, along with those grapes that did not mature.
Washed grapes,
minus a spider and two crawlies.

Their next stop was the cook pot. Now grapes have a tough skin, so it is necessary to crush them to get the best flavor. The crushing revealed the succulent insides that would ultimately provide the flavor for the jelly. The skin and seeds and insides are boiled all together for a good ten minutes. A full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.

What is left behind.
That is when you get the first sniff of the real inside of the grapes. With the skin off and the heat rising, the aroma of each grape is released. Their grapeness filled the air and anyone nearing my kitchen would have no doubt of what was happening.

Then the grapes, skin, juice, seeds and all go into a strainer to remove the unnecessary parts. While the pulp will be used for another purpose, it will not go into the jelly. Then, this luscious juice goes back into the pot for another heating and mixing then carefully ladled into jars. The jars are then yep, placed into a boiling water bath.
Back into the heat.

The result? Beautiful sparkling grape jelly that will bring delight to our tongues for the coming year! Still grapes? Yes, but different.
Glorified grapes.
Refined and preserved.

I have felt like those grapes, maybe you have too. Pruned, snipped, crushed…and at times plunged into heat that seems unbearable. I have learned that God uses those times to make something better out of me. He truly is the Master Gardener Who tends to His vines. 

Things to remember when life gets hard
  • God planted you in love. He will tend you and nurture you. He expects you to grow and mature.
  • God will prune you with love. He wants you to be strong and be able to bear fruit.
  • God will cause you to bear fruit in His time. He will bring you from outside, into His home.
  • God has a plan for you. You may not understand it but, He wants to clean you and remove anything that would be harmful to you.
  • He will allow you to be squeezed to the point of being crushed – what is inside comes out. It proves your faith is real to you and to those around you.
  • He will allow you to go through a refining fire. It will cause you to release the unnecessary, the dross that contaminates you. The refining is a process that is repeated more than once but, His grace will not allow it to consume you.
  • You will leave your skin and seeds behind. You will still be you, but you will be changed into something glorious! You will be sealed and preserved into His kingdom!

Dear Father,
Thank You for Your loving care through my life. Thank You for watching over me and tending me and pruning me when I needed it.

While I long to be beautiful in Your sight, I struggle in the times of the refining fire. It is hard. Thank You for staying by me side through it all. May I be an example of perseverance in my trials, that another would look to You for that same faith. I pray You will give comfort to those in the fire today. I pray You will encourage those who feel alone today in their time of testing. Thank You for the grace to endure it.

Father, may any fruit borne be to Your glory and leave seeds of righteousness sown for Your kingdom. I trust You with my eternity and I trust You with my today.
In Jesus’ name I pray.


“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:6,7
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

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For more faith-filled stories, including a hummingbird I named Oscar, read the first chapter here.

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