I noticed some wild grapes growing near the church building. Wild grapes are all over central and eastern North Carolina.
I’ve seen these grapes, as well as all kinds of flowering and fruit-bearing vines, just at the edge of an old field where the congregation used to host softball games. Walking the edge of the field, where there’s some shade from the surrounding woods, is a favorite hot-weather pastime for the dog and me.
Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” (John 15:5) Usually when I read this verse I have cultivated grape vines in mind: vines with a sturdy base and glossy leaves, well-tended by the Master.
But these wild vines give me a different perspective on Jesus’ image. These are vines that could spring up anywhere. Come a hurricane, a large tree might take them down, but they’d spring up again. Their leaves are pockmarked by the elements and plant-eating critters. Despite the lack of professional care, these wild vines of the Carolinas still produce succulent grapes.
Does Christ want us to be a little more nimble, a little more hardy? Able to produce good fruit regardless of the circumstances? Regrouping and regenerating wherever the Spirit wills? Drawing strength from him when we are literally at the edge?
Perhaps God’s plan for you or me will be like a plant growing in a commercial vineyard, orderly and well-groomed. But what if God’s plan is to help you and me inhabit the edges, the wild spaces, and still flourish?
I wonder if God has another plan for this old ball field too. Children seem to enjoy running free in it. The dog has enjoyed romping in it. The only tending the field receives is an occasional mowing. We will see what God creates in this space, where wild things are all around.