God likes using wines and vines in his miracles and parables.
I thought of that a number of years ago when I read the following in an article:
Great wines come from low-yielding vineyards planted in marginal climates on the poorest soils. Though hard on the vines, these tough conditions are good for the wine, because the vines that are stressed must work harder to produce fruit, which leads to fewer but more concentrated and flavorful grapes.
By contrast, the vines used for bulk wines have it easy. They are planted in the fertile soils in ideal climates of regions such as California’s Central Valley. Such regions are great for producing tons of grapes to fill up the bulk fermentation tanks, but not at all great for producing the complex, intense flavors needed to make great wine, because the vines are not stressed and the yields are way too high.
I think this paradox in nature — stressed vines produce good wines — is also a parable for how God produces rich, complex, intense faith in his children. Because when it comes to faith, God loves good wine.
All you have to do is read Hebrews 11 to see that the great wine of faith often “comes from. . . vineyards planted in marginal climates on the poorest soils.” And James 1:2 tells us plainly that “tough conditions (“various trials”) are good for the wine” of faith. Because faith-vines “must work harder to produce fruit” leading to “more concentrated and flavorful” wines.
Now, as a faith-vine striving to grow in a hard place, you might be tempted to wish you were a bulk wine vine basking in the spiritual equivalent of California’s Central Valley. Oh for that rich soil, bright sunshine, warm ocean air. Sigh. But here you are, stuck on some coldish, semi-arid hillside where the struggle is frequent and sometimes severe.
Yes, it’s hard. But it’s not a mistake. It’s not a punishment. It’s not mean. It’s simply that tough conditions produce the best faith. Your Vinedresser (John 15:1) has planted you in a unique vineyard with uniquely stressful conditions because he intends for you to produce a uniquely fine, flavorful faith-wine. And he will tend to your every real need (Philippians 4:19).
If you need some perspective today, review Hebrews 11 and the great faith-vine heroes of history. Remember what their vineyards were like and the rich faith-wines that resulted. And then remember Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and the joy set before every vine that endures in faith.
When God makes wine, he makes really good wine (John 2:7–10). And when it comes to your faith, he knows that really good wine is made in the vineyard.