A sparkly sequined lunchbox, hot pink soccer cleats, plaid uniform skirts, collared shirts, Nike shoes. These are just a few of the items purchased last week as I prepared for my children to return to school. Each of my children need different things for the first day of class. Some need new socks and some need new shoes. The boys need a haircut. I have spent several days making sure that we have clean lunch boxes, enough snack containers, summer reading completed, math problems correct, and the sports schedule intact. Soccer, flag football, volleyball, basketball and cross country are about to be part of our routine again. Mercy!
As I prayed for my children last week I asked God to help me equip each child. Up to that point, much of my time had been spent on the tangible preparations. As I began to pray, I was led to consider their needs that go beyond the sparkly lunchbox and the haircut above the collar. For their classes. For their relationships. For their teachers. For their sports teams. As my prayers continued, I was led to pray further….deeper. For their hearts. For their character. For their minds. And then, it struck me. Lord, what are the needs I do not know? What are the ways they are not prepared for the challenges they will face? Each of my children are in a different place. Each of my children have different needs.
I found myself in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel of John reading the words of Jesus. “I am the vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, s/he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Unsure of the definition of a vinedresser, I went searching. Theologian E.Radmacher says this, “A vinedresser, or husbandman, is more than a mere farmer. The vinedresser’s grape vines remain with him for decades. He comes to know each one in a personal way, much like a shepherd with his sheep. He knows how the vine is faring from year to year and which ones are more productive or vigorous than others. He knows what they respond to and what special care certain one’s need. Every vine has its own personality. And the vinedresser comes to know it over the years. The vinedresser cares for each vine and nurtures it, pruning it the appropriate amount at the appropriate times, fertilizing it, lifting its branches from the ground and propping them or tying them to the trellis, and taking measures to protect them from insects and disease.”
This passage reminded me that God the Father, (the vinedresser)
- Knows my children in a personal way
- He knows how my children are faring in school year after year
- He knows when my children are productive and when they are not productive
- He knows their needs.
- He knows their personality
- He prunes them as necessary
- He protects them from harm.
My prayers changed significantly. As a mom, I want to foresee their needs. I want to ensure a good year, a fruitful year, not a year of pruning. I was reminded the One who foresees is the one who has my children in his care, as a part of His vineyard. The passage in John reminded me my job is to walk with them and teach them what it means that they are connected to Someone greater. What it means to abide. What it means to bear fruit and to be pruned. My prayers now include:
- They would desire to ABIDE with their Father, and learn what this looks like by walking with my husband and me.
- They would see PURPOSE in PRUNING in their difficulties, in their failures, in their doubts and their insecurities.
- They would experience the FRUIT of their FAITHFULNESS in their friendships, their studies and their serving.
- They would find joy in being part of a vineyard to which they’ve been called, a community .
- God would give them eyes to see how He is working in their lives through blessings and challenges.
- That my daughter’s sparkly lunch box would be filled with fruit!
Blessings on a new school year! May our children grow in grace and fruitfulness in their calling as students.