by Sherry Hoffcastle
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My friend was pruning his vineyard yesterday. He was very sad. It seemed that more and more of his branches got old and withered away. He asked me if I loved him. I replied, “Without a doubt!” “Then go and bear good fruit for me so that you may dwell within my house.”
When I had returned after many long hours in the field my hands were bruised and callused and the skin on my knuckles peeled. What was worse what lay ahead, for to see my friend, I had come to dread. “I worked so hard to make you proud. I upturned earth and weeds I plowed. But still, my friend I am to fear. A place at your home I am nowhere near. I came across so many stones and ugly weeds and skeleton bones. I worked all day and to my dismay I did not bear good fruit today.”
My friend just smiled. “Come here, my child. There is something you should know. I have here in my hand for you instructions for how to make your garden grow. Read it very carefully. Take it to your heart. Before you leave tomorrow, get an early start. These directions that I’m giving you, you must never lose. If you follow them exactly, I promise you will bear good fruit.” I thanked my friend profusely and I bolted out the door.
Never again, I vowed would I make the same mistake as before. I did as my friend asked of me. I read the instructions thoroughly. But in my haste to make things right I stayed up late into the night. Out on the field I fell asleep and the good fruit I bore just didn’t keep. When I awoke I was ashamed. For once again, my friend, I failed. This time it was good fruit I bore but it didn’t last. I cried once more. My patient friend, he came to me and sat me down upon his knee.
“Child, he said. Can’t you see? You waste too much energy when you worry. Take your time and think things through. The right answers will come to you. I am in no hurry just now. You can bear fruit, you’ve shown me how. Trust that I am always here. A place at my home you are very near.” With open arms he held me close and I cried freely ensconced in his purple robes.
For the third time I went out on the field. When I came back my knuckles were peeled. My hands were callused and my feet so sore. But after many years, good fruit I bore. I read the instructions pinned to my heart. I went to bed early and rose with a fresh start. For a final time my friend came to me, for the fruit I bore he wanted to see. I laid it all at his feet and bowed my head. Another mistake I had come to dread. Maybe he finds something I didn’t see and sends me back out, though still lovingly.
“Child, lift your head and open your eyes. You have found favor in my sight. Three times you did as I commanded. Three times you obeyed as I demanded. You bore me fruit, though not always good. You stopped your worry as you should. You read my instructions and made them your own. Now it’s time for you to come home. Come sit at the table and dine with me. For to be my guest I would love you to be.”
As he said these words I looked up in his face and knew I had found the most amazing grace. He always loved me, faults and all even when I wasn’t much a man at all. What kind of friend loves someone like me enough to want to spend eternity? I may never know and I won’t try to guess. I’ll just marvel and wonder at how I am blessed. The greatest gift I have ever received was to sit at the table in perfect peace with a gardener who loved me and asked me to be a guest in his home, a home of my own.
John 15:1: “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener.”
copywrite 2005 Sherry Castelluccio+
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It is so good to know that all we have to do is go out, do the works, and let Him worry about the rest. It is even more wonderful to know that He loves us... unconditionally.