This morning, as I read Psalm 80, I note a pattern of God at work.
The psalmist writes in verse 8-11 (and refers to the Israelites as a “vine”):
You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
Its branches reached as far as the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River.
As I recalled the work of the “vinedresser” in John 15, I consider how I see God tending this vine: He transplants, drives out enemies, sows, clears ground, lets the vine take root, and then enables growth and blessing from this vine.
I remember this pattern when I think about personal growth in my life and what I’m hoping to see God accomplish. To grow best, I’ve learned, God first transplants (moves me somewhere new or into a new position), spends time (often years!) driving out enemies or sin from my own heart, clears ground for the work (the pruning of relationships and obligations to free time and space), and then lets me take root into a new thing.
And then–only then–do I observe fruitfulness and impact.
It takes time. I rush right to impact and fruitfulness without remembering how God cares for vines. There’s always a process and a biblical pattern to note. I think of myself as a little planted Israelite today. And I don’t resist the transplanting, driving out, sowing, and clearing work of God.