Friday, September 10, 2010

I Heard It Through the Grapevine

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

When Paul and I were house-hunting eighteen years ago, I fell in love with our very old house, mainly because it has a large and well-established grapevine arbor in the backyard. It is so large, that it is actually an outdoor room, and it is so old that most of the wood with which it had been built and that provided the main support for the vine was rotting.

Several years after we bought our house, a violent windstorm swept through our neighborhood and it caused the grapevine arbor to collapse. We were grateful that our insurance covered the replacement costs and Paul eagerly set to work to build a sturdier arbor to support the extremely heavy vine.

As he was working on the vine one extremely hot summer day, the entire vine collapsed again, this time, with Paul trapped underneath it! He managed to crawl out from under the vine and decided that before he would continue the project, the vine needed to be drastically cut back to prevent further accidents. I was heartsick when I looked outside and saw that there was hardly any vine left! I was sure that it would die, and I would lose my favorite part of my house. Was this a symbolic sign that I was living my life apart from God and like the branches on my grapevine, I had cut myself off from that close and loving relationship with my heavenly Father?

I’m sorry to say that my deep attachment to this material object caused me to give my poor husband the cold shoulder for many days as I blamed him for killing the vine. If only he had asked some family members for help with the project instead of insisting on doing everything by himself, this never would have happened, I reasoned. And Paul reasoned right back that if I didn’t insist on living in this old, run-down house, this wouldn’t even be an issue. You’ll notice that at the beginning of this essay, I said that I loved the house, not that we loved the house. In fact, Paul hated our house even before we first bought it, and he continues to beg me to move. He is forever bringing home flyers from homes for sale in our neighborhood, but I continue to dig my stubborn feet in and we have remained in our old, decrepit house that is loaded with life and charm and memories, and a grape-vine that I love, but also, never-ending projects for him to work on when perhaps he’d rather take up golfing.

The period of time without the abundant life of the grapevine and the lingering resentment that I carried towards my husband was certainly a desert time for me. “Speak to me, O God,” I prayed. “I want my family and I to be close to you, attached to Your vine of life, not to my own unnecessary needs.” And then I read these words and peace came to my heart:

“I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. From there I will give her the vineyards she had.” Hosea 2:6

And God, the author of life and love, saw to it that the life that once flowed through that vine would be restored to its original splendor, and my husband and I would resume our loving relationship in the joy of forgiveness. He gave me a time of emptiness without the vine, to learn the virtue of detachment to material things and rediscover the importance of my marriage. And by the next summer, the vine grew back to its normal size and produced an abundant amount of fruit. That was twelve years ago, and today, my husband has not only restored the arbor into a safe and shady haven for my family, he has also built a deck over the pavement so that it truly is a place of rest and relaxation in the summer heat.

Over the years, the vine has produced an abundant amount of delicious and fragrant concord grapes and I have become very well known for making grape jelly to share with family and friends. In fact, I have not bought jelly from a store since we moved into our house. This year is no exception as I just completed the annual harvest and have frozen 9 gallons of juice for jelly and filling for pie, more than enough to last the entire year until next September. And as Paul and I sit together in the evening shade of the grapevine, we contemplate the love we have for God and for each other, and discuss our continued love/hate relationship with our home and the next project that Paul will be working on!

For more stories and prayers about adventures with the grapevine, check out these posts from the archives:Crushed Grapes and By His Wounds.


  1. What a wonderful story! It really shows that God has lesson plans for each of us. And provides such abundance in our lives. We had a 17 foot in circumference catalypa tree(100 years old) in our mowing step. I always said I didn't want to be in my loved home if it wasn't there. After 35 years of family memories around the tree a storm took it down. GRIEF! But two years later I see God's blessing. My husband has Parkinson and he could not do the yard work this wonderful tree provided. I have MS and cannot help but we can stay in our home and continue to stay in our community of friends that pray with us and support us. Now we watch a little tree stuggling to grow. We can manage the few leaves it drops and celebrate it's growth. sharon

  2. Thank you Anne for this wonderful story. It has great meaning for me.

    God bless.

  3. Yes, some of the hardest pruning we have to do is some of the biggest. And we'll never know what will grow back until we just go out and do it.

    Paul seems like a special guy.

  4. Oohh, concord grapes! They don't grow here, and you cannot get them here. I will get some next week when I am in Korea. I grew up with them, growing wild on our Maine farm. They are my favorite kind of grape, and your picture made me hungry for them! (I would agree with you -- I prefer the charm of old. And my husband would agree with yours -- the newer the better, sci fi-ish is the charm for him.)

  5. I needed to read this today. Thank you, again, for another timely post.

  6. I love when God speaks to us like that through scripture. Every time I think I am reading something "old" and "from the past" ... it brings new life to the present just like it did for you. Wonderful.

    God Bless.

  7. that photo of the grapes made my mouth water!! so delicious! Your story is wonderful. and as you quoted Hosea, I was thinking of the hosea song and the verse:
    "The wilderness
    will lead you,
    to your heart,
    where i will speak."

  8. Beautiful post. I'll try to contain my jealousy on so many levels. ;)