I love blueberries.
I love cranberries and raisins and strawberries.
I even love kiwi (but only in my mother's homemade fruit salad).
But the fruit I love the most, the fruit that gets me going every time?
Right Place. Right Climate. Right Time.
A big travel dream of mine is to taste grapes from vineyards all over the world. One that I am anxious to sample from the vine is the pinot noir grape, also known as the "heartbreak grape". Originally grown in the French regions of Burgundy and Champagne, it is considered many to be the perfect grape because of its terroir.
Not terror, terroir.
There is no true English translation of the word, but one sommelier describes it as "that all-encompassing 'sense of place'". But because the grape's skin is thin it can easily mutate into a different pinot if the environment is not optimal.
It has to be the right place, the right climate, and the right time.
Growing Fruit in a Barren Land
Thomas Didymus the disciple is a heartbreak grape. He could be rollin' with Jesus one minute, then challenging him in the next. Faithful, but doubtful. Even his name is double minded. Thomas is the Hebrew (Aramaic) and Didymus is the Greek for the same word: twin. The Gospel of John details how he lived up to his name.
He was one who always needed to be in the right place, in the right climate, and at the right time to receive the revelation. By reminding us who Thomas was as a man, John helps us understand the delicate nuances of Christ growing you and I as fruit in a barren land:
CLARITY IS NOT A PREREQUISITE TO BEING A FRUITFUL CHRISTIAN
So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, but for your sake I am glad that I was not with him, so that you will believe. Let us go to him.” Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!” ~John 11:14-16, New Living Translation
I can hear Thomas saying to himself as they take the long walk to Lazarus, "Better to die with my Teacher than without him". A clear understanding is not a prerequisite to Christianity. There will be parts of your journey that will press your belief system. But the Master Gardener has provided the living vine of Christ for your nourishment and growth. In one season, your ears like Job's may hear of God's goodness. In another, your eyes will see it for yourself. But only if you stick with Jesus even when it doesn't make sense.
OUR VULNERABILITY NEEDS CHRIST'S PROXIMITY
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” ~John 20:24-25, New International Version
It's difficult for me to get upset with ol' Thomas. The walls were closing in on his life, and the one who kept his sense of place in tact was gone.
How would you feel? What would you do?
Although he had not yet seen the risen Savior, he remained close to those who had. I am encouraged to do the same, for this could have gone another way. He could have felt abandoned by the Teacher and walked away. But he stayed close to those who had been close to the King, and that made all the difference. This is one of the many reasons staying connected to your local church is so crucial. You need people around you who have hope when you don't.
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~John 20:26-29 NIV
This masterclass in faith saturated Thomas, giving him the mental and spiritual capacity to move outside his comfort zone and take Christianity into what is now India. With great fervor, he taught a nation about the God They Could Not See. To this day, there is a harvest of millions because the Teacher saw fruit in his barren land. If Thomas had walked away, a people would have no "sense of place" in Christ.
If the Risen Savior can do that for Thomas, what can he do for you? More importantly, what can he do with you? GOD 'n You.
Skin is thin?
Welcome to Winemaking 101.
Yes, you are in the right place.
Yes, your chaos is the right climate.
And yes, now is the right time.
You are grown to be great.
I pray that you see this for what it is. Your harvest season. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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