Late summer is usually the time when all those who love the idea of making grape juice make their way to the vineyards in St. Catharine/Niagara area to glean grapes. Two weeks ago, my family and I joined a few passionate harvesters to travel an hour and a half to the region, to pick grapes. There was much enjoyment to the adventure, getting up before the crack of dawn, fixing breakfast to carry along for the family, and setting out on our trek. Upon reaching the site, we all went straight to the vines with bushel baskets in hand and started picking. The time spent was filled with laughter and conversations as we filled our baskets. As we picked, a very young child among us was conversing with another about making it to Heaven and she went on to say how prepared she was, even for the end times, and encouraged her friend to prepare also. I thought how wonderful and how fitting the occasion was. As we harvested the berries, here was a child also picking a “fruit” for the Heavenly harvest. Everyone was impressed.
The owner of the farm came shortly to inform us of the necessity of picking the vines clean. “Do not leave any before moving on to the next area,” he said. I thought again, how fitting. The Lord of the spiritual harvest also wants us to be thorough as we seek to win souls for His Kingdom, not leaving anyone behind.
After we were through, we got home about midday and faced the arduous task of separating the grapes from the bunches, then washing them and placing them in the juicing pot. It’s a very interesting process. The heat from the steaming container below forces the juice from the berries that were placed in the top container. The juice is then collected in a separate container in the middle.
It reminded me of the Sabbath School lessons we studied last quarter dealing with crucibles. Yes, the heat that we have to go through in life sometimes is used by our merciful God to extract the precious juices of our characters. 1 Peter 4:12 (NKJV) reminds us:
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice …”
If left on the vine, the grapes would spoil within a few weeks. If they were picked but left to remain in the baskets, they would spoil within a few days. However, when put through the fiery process that extracts the juice, which is then sealed in a sterilized bottle, the juice can then last for months and even years. So it is with the development of our characters.
After the juicing process, the bottles cool and we can enjoy a refreshing drink and taste the fruits of our labour. I was then reminded of Psalm 34:8: “O taste and see that the Lord is good …” Despite the fiery trials of life, will we be able to look at our growth and declare that the Lord is good? Indeed, it was a wonderful and enlightening excursion!
As we head into the home stretch of preparing for our upcoming Evangelistic thrust, let the experience of harvesting a vineyard remind us of our mission to work with the Lord in His endeavour to pluck souls from the grasp of the enemy and place them into baskets of truth to be preserved for the Kingdom of God.