“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
In previous decades I often imagined myself as a grape on the Lord’s vine, a fruit that was sometimes crushed but never discarded, surroundings that were often pruned but never destroyed. It was a comforting image. At other times, I felt like part of the Vine that was grafted into situations that were far outside my comfort zone, but, knowing it was the Lord’s doing, I trusted and was able to bear fruit. Lately, however, I’ve not felt like a life-filled fruit or a leafy vine. Instead, I’ve been a raisin – still clinging but rather dried out, wrinkly, and of no use. At least if you crush a grape you get juice or wine. When you crush a raisin you just get a flat raisin, an item only good as substitute ammo in a pea shooter. I haven’t tested this, but it seems valid. (For those of you not familiar with this type of “tool” think of the modern take-off: a straw that delivers spit wads. Thirty years as a teacher were not a waste!)
What can make a raisin useful? Hot water – literally and figuratively. A raisin’s reaction to being placed in hot water is plumping up. It becomes soft, tasty and a welcome ingredient to all sorts of things. When a people “raisin” asks the Lord to make him or her useful again, guess what? Uh-huh. Finding oneself in a situation that could be described as “hot water” often arises, and one realizes that navigating the situation highlights lessons learned, wisdom gathered, and abilities developed over time. You’re able to say a “right word in season,” embrace a shoulder or comfort a heart. Life is never over whenever the Lord is in control. I love the line from one of David’s songs: “They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.” (Psalm 92:14) So, here’s to being a raisin in the Lord’s little box. Remember, grapes can mold. Raisins endure!