Speak Tenderly to Me
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope . . .” Hosea 2: 14-15a
I must remember that the vineyard not only shows me how deeply loved I am by Christ, but how real, lasting fruit is produced. In the vineyard, the God who chooses me digs up dirt, clears away stones and plants me with the choicest of vines. With such allure and tender care from the Vinedresser, how can Isaiah sing, “Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit” (5:2)? It was in the vineyard context that Jesus told his closest disciples, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing (John 15: 5). I will be faced with countless seasons when the Landowner comes to collect the fruit. The wood on the vine is too soft for any other purpose; it is good for nothing except fruit-bearing. And the only way I can be prepared for those seasons is threefold: dependence, communion, and obedience.
First, the vineyard is not a place of independence. I must be a woman in leadership who recognizes the details in which God has given me everything to live a fruitful life. My family, my work and my call are gracious gifts from God but I am not to depend on them. I am to live with a confident dependence that “nothing else in all creation will . . .separate [me] from the love of God . . .” (Rom. 8:39).
Second, the vineyard is where sweet communion happens in the everyday. I can choose to “put off” intimacy with my Savior to the end of the week, but I cannot avoid that He’s waiting for me. The tragedy is that if I avoid intimacy, I will have that need met elsewhere. Tempted to self-sufficiency, I shut others out as God and those closest to me have “failed” to meet my need. Such desire is the clarion call of the Creator to his creation. Dependence is a place of trust that helps me to say, “Speak tenderly to me” (Hosea 2: 14b).
The vineyard season of fruitfulness follows the sequence of dependence, communion and finally, obedience. Lord Jesus, let me honestly say that to “obey is better than sacrifice” (I Sam. 15:22). Let me deeply know that fruit-bearing is not based on my performance but what you accomplish through my obedience. And I will hear you say, "Remain in my love” (John 15:10).
“Obedience is the necessary stepping-stone to fruitfulness and power.” ~Glyn Evans
What has been a fruitful season of life for you? What does that look like? What about a season of pruning? What did that feel like? What blocks sweet communion with Jesus?