Last week Ken and I visited Tim, a friend from church, who grows several rare varieties of grapes on the hillside behind his house. I was surprised that Tim had planted his vines along a steep and rocky portion of the hill. “Why didn’t you plant the vines at the base of the hill?” I asked him. “The soil certainly looks a lot better—and there’s more sun.”
Tim smiled. “There’s a rule you need to remember when it comes to growing these special varieties of grapes,” he said. “When you feed them luxuriously with lots of nutrients and fertilizer, the vine produces a profuse bush of leaves and cane. But the fruit it grows is sparse and very poor. Oh make no mistake,” he laughed. “The plant loves lots of fertilizer. But it invests all those nutrients into growing lush, dark, beautiful leaves. And when the vine has finished doing that, it has very little energy left to produce fruit. It certainly looks like a beautiful vine. But that’s it. It just looks good.”
How, then, do you get good grapes? As Tim explained it, you have to make sure the grapevine struggles! You plant it in rocky, flinty soil, or you girdle the vine by wrapping wires around the cordons, forcing the plant to struggle as it tries to draw nutrients from its roots. This causes the distressed vine to divert most all of its prized and hard-won nutrients into the fruit, instead of the leaves. The result of these trials and tribulations is the sweetest fruit possible!
So… maybe the rocky soil and steep inclines in your life aren’t so bad after all. The trials and struggles, disappointments and setbacks you face, this “girdling” that presses you in from all sides… is a bruising of blessing. And you won’t bear a crop without it.
Are you in the midst of hardship? Are you facing challenging trials or setbacks? Keep pressing on!