Today was the first day of school for my kids. As I look out across a new year and the masses of students, teachers, staff, and administrators I consider what kind of year will it be? Will the friends they start with be there at the end? Will the teachers they like still be like at the end? Will the administration still be in tact at the end of the year? What changes can we see? What stability will we see?
As I read in Isaiah 5, God likened Israel to a vineyard that he had planted. Once everything had been done, all waited in anticipation for the harvest. What they expected were sweet grapes. Bu they brought in bitter grapes.
Will this year be a year of sweet or bitter harvest?
According to Damon Smith of Oklahoma State University, bitter grapes can be a result of several things. He offers a few suggestions as to how to avoid a bitter harvest and I think it applies to our lives as well.
- Sanitation – this is so obvious, yet we can go or days or weeks without cleaning ourselves. We bathe daily, but do we sanitize our spiritual life that often? The primary source of spores and infection results from the filth and dead fruit on us. We have to be cleansed for us to remove the problem.
- Proper pruning – there are some things and people we just need to prune from our lives. Removing the dead canes and parts can reduce the spores that create bitterness. What is there in your life that needs pruning? Is there that hateful “friend” that drags you into bitterness? Is there a relationship that is souring you? What are you bringing into your life through media outlets? Is it causing rage, anger, resentment, hatred, or the like? When they root, you will not be able to produce sweet fruit.
- Increase airflow – when the leaves cannot dry, the wetness causes fungus that leads to greater and lasting problems. What is your schedule like? Do you have every minute planned without the ability to breathe? How about time with God, in the Word, or in worship with a church? Do you have the time space to allow for freshness? How about your money? Are you so overspent that you couldn’t tithe, let alone give, even if you wanted. There just isn’t any space.
- Fungicide – chemical management allows for the fungus to be controlled and eliminated. Consider what outside agent you need to bring into your moment to allow the fungus of sin to be eliminated.
In your life and relationships, are you experiencing a bitter harvest? Maybe it’s time to take action. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Joy comes from a vibrant, healthy relationship with God that produces a sweet harvest.