Last week I was in Napa, California. Wine Country. The fall is “crush” time. It’s when the grapes are harvested and crushed to begin the process of making them in to wine. For a mere $30 you could even participate in crushing grapes the old-fashioned way: with your feet. I decided that was too messy and chose to observe as I sipped my wine sample. Really, I just wanted to reap the benefits from the results of someone else’s hard work. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible in other areas of my life.
You may or may not be familiar with the concept of Communion. In a nutshell, It’s a ceremony of sorts, where people eat tiny pieces of bread and wine (grape juice, if it’s at church) as an act of remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross. The bread often tastes like a piece of styrofoam. When I was in college, I went to a church of about 50 people and a woman in the church would make pie crust for the communion bread. I took everything I had to not dig through the pile to find the biggest piece! But I digress. So. The bread represents Christ’s body and the wine his blood. Now, if that totally freaks you out, please keep reading. I think you will find something you can relate to. What i want to focus on is the idea of US being “broken bread and poured-out wine”. How can we be of use to others? How can how we effect and bless people around us? The answer is to let God “crush” us. Listen to how Oswald Chambers puts it: “God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when he uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object…If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.” I personally don’t enjoy being “crushed” or “squeezed.” And it’s hard enough when it’s done by God’s hand through my circumstances, but it’s especially painful when the crushing is done by an enemy. I want to become a better person, but at what cost? Am I willing to let ALL circumstances, good or bad, turn me into broken bread and poured out wine? I ask God all the time to make me more of many things: more patient. more loving. more forgiving. more sensitive. But when the opportunity arises to learn these things, I object to the manner in which He has arranged for me to learn them. Actually, I am not convinced he arranges it (living in a broken world brings many hardships God does not wish for us to have), but I do believe that when situations or broken people challenge my serenity and test my character, that God can use them to mold me into something more beautiful.
No more arguing with God. Or at least try not to. It’s not an easy thing to learn. But Oswald suggests this: “Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.” He wants to pour you out. Not age you. The process of “aging” wine comes from letting it sit on the shelf, sometimes for YEARS before it is ready to drink. But not you. God can use you today if you are willing. As the Devine Vitner (that’s fancy talk for “wine maker”), He knows the perfect time and manner in which to “squeeze” you. He knows how to bring out the fullest and ripest fruit in you. Trust Him in your daily trials. He knows what you need better than you do.