Hours and hours of driving. 17 hours the first day in the dark. (4:30 p.m. – 9:00 a.m.) 5-6 hours to the next location. 6 hours the next. 7 hours the next. 10 hours the final day. We saw a lot of highway. Freeways. Towns. Traveled Hwy 101 and Hwy 1. Coast lines. Small coastal towns. Tourist stops. It wasn’t until we were on a stretch of land from Ventura to Santa Cruz that my breath was taken away.
To my left, for miles, was the lightest brown/tan dirt. No vegetation, or at least no living vegetation. The drought has surely taken over that part of California.
To my right, every once in a while, a small farm would creep into view. Deep dark earth. Rows and rows of plants. Strawberries, so large and dark red you could see them from the road. Artichokes, Cabbage, an assortment of vegetables and fruit. The vineyards were amazing. Rows and rows with the most beautiful landscapes.
It wasn’t the idea of unlimited amounts of strawberries that drew my breath,
but the contrast of the two sides of the highway.
We’d see the line of cars on the side of the road. Drinking water stations, lunchboxes on tailgates, tents for workers. So many workers. Head down, hands busy. Planting, Tending, Fertilizing, Harvesting. Plots of ground ready for planting.
I could easily find the ‘main house’ in these land areas. Anything remotely near the home would flourish. Anything a plot away would be brown and lifeless. On the left side of the road they would gather trees, limbs and bushes and pile them high. I wondered if there was ever the conditions to burn these piles or if they had to truck them away.
I mentioned the contrast to the kids in the car – and talked about why I love the Vineyard Church – of being a part of the vine, and we drove on.
Last week in church we had an amazing prayer session. Using Evernote I started to type as I prayed. The longing in my heart came out this way –
I am validated by the Spirit alone. He will bear witness. Training or classes aside. Where I am each day. I am not boing to eat scraps or be thrown scraps. I will walk in power. The fullness of God living in me. The fullness of the spirit. I take in the bread. I want to walk in the vineyard. In the vine.
My mind wanders to Colossians 2:9-10 –
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
I want to walk in the vineyard. In the vine.
My fingers began to click on the kindle as my mind saw the trip vividly:
To the left and to the right. Desert. Tan. White cracked earth. Not even weeds really. Cut down trees. And to the right of the highway, rich earth.
Dark green vegetation. Fruit of every kind. Artichokes cabbage strawberries grapes.
The workers were in the fields. Vehicles by the side of the road. Lunch boxes at the end of the rows. Bee boxes.
The only life found was at the overseers properties.
The land owner set it up and paid for the workers water equipment seed fertilizers.
The workers came. The fruit. Rows of strawberries. So dark red. Green. The vines over and under the earth.
Did the vine have a choice? Could I choose not to grow fruit?
Did the enemy come? Pests, animals, neighbors thief?
Abundance. Optimal abundance.
Sweet. Juicy. Whole. Rich. Vitamins. Nutritious fruit. Cut to give life to others so that it can produce in them. Cut for seeds. Cut for more vines. Fruit that is enjoyed, shared, given and sold.
Want to be abundant and full of fruit? Let Jesus tell you how –
John 15 ~ New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus, the True Vine
15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.