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We were traveling down Highway 99 towards a town called Lockford. Lockford is the very definition of a small town. Their main street may be all of 3 or 4 blocks long. Why would we visit a town that has one grocery store, one meat market and a few restaurants? Friends, very good friends! These wonderful people have also cheered us through good times and our bad times. They are treasured.

As we drove closer and closer to Lockford, we started passing more and more vineyards. There were long, straight rows of grapevines lazily growing over wired posts, stretching their vines and soaking in the California sun. We passed parcels of land, growing their bounty; some parcels were an acre or two and some parcels larger with a winery and tasting room. Normally, in October the grape growing and gathering season is completely finished but this year, with its unusual and wet weather, grapes were still on the vine. We saw several wineries covering their vines with white and green plastic; the plastic was stretched across the long planted rows.

After seeing this puzzling phenomenon, I asked my husband who grew up in the Central Valley, if he had ever seen plastic over the vines. He said no, which didn’t answer my questions. After a series of guesses, we concluded that the green plastic may be like those little green bags we all put our veggies inside to keep them from ripening too soon. Or, maybe, the plastic makes a mini-greenhouse and the grapes will mature faster.

Every time I think of those plastic covered vines, I think of my spiritual growth. Some years, months or days, I am ripening at the proper time. Other times, I am in slow growth mode; lagging in growth and feeling a bit bitter. But, at the appointed time when its time for my next growth spurt, Jesus gently covers me with grace, fortitude and keeps me producing in the safety of His vineyard. Without Jesus, I can’t produce. Through Jesus, I can the abundant harvest meant for my life-song. If I make Jesus my comfort and my home, His words will be with-in me. Then I can finally be the mature vine I want to be and finally producing the gifts He has given. Oh Lord, help me to continue yielding the harvests in my life for without You, I can do nothing!

Deuteronomy 6:10: When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there..

John 15: 5: I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.