As you can imagine, I know a lot more about organic lemons and avocados than I do about running a vineyard. But as I was recently reminded, a vineyard can teach us a lot about the important practices of abiding, rest, and renewal.
For the first time in a long while, my wife Krista and I took off for a few days of vacation in the vineyards of Paso Robles along California's Central Coast. We went with our great friends and former Grove staff member Mark Perez and his wife, Debbie. My, oh my, I didn't realize how much my soul was in need of rest and having no agenda to be anywhere at anytime for anyone.
So, like a good glass of wine, I'd like to share from the overflow of my heart to yours today in the hope you'll carve some time this week to be good to your soul.
Here's a few moments from our time away that reflect the full and generous life offered to us in Christ. They are the simple, creative elements we encourage all artists to cultivate a thriving life in God here at The Grove.
Noticing God's Creation - I get hoodwinked every time. Whenever I am placed in a new physical environment marked by tremendous order and breathtaking beauty, I'm reminded how much God's creation renews my soul. But in order to really experience this renewal, I first need to slow down and notice what is before me.
Driving through mile after mile of vineyards filled with majestic oak trees and green hills, I was so grateful both to God and farmers for creating and cultivating this wild planet.
Time at the Table - When we visited Justin Winery, we took our seats at a lovely patio overlooking the vineyard. Over wine, cheese, crackers, fruit, and chocolate, Krista, Mark, Debbie and I spent the next couple hours enjoying one another. All nine of our kids grew up together, so we laughed and told story after story. And we ate and drank. Drank and ate. The weather was perfect and it was one of those rare times when it felt like time stood still.
We all remarked, "Isn't this the Kingdom? Isn't this the life Jesus invites us to every day at his table... fellowship with him and one another? Isn't this a beautiful taste of God's coming wedding banquet?"
Admiring Art - If you want to expand your vision of art and what it means to dream big, a trip to California's Central Coast isn't the same without a visit to Hearst Castle. William Randolph Hearst did not build his castle to fill it with art -- he designed his castle for and around his art! His integration of the physical landscape, architectural design, and creative vision for sharing his art with the world makes Hearts Castle a truly inspiring place.
On the final day of our journey, we also had a chance to visit the Cal Poly Architecture Student furniture show. My daughter Ellie made an award-winning table from re-purposed materials that cost her all of seven bucks. From the grandeur of the Hearst Castle art collection to the emerging artists of today, I was inspired and in awe of artists past and present.
Whether it is celebrating God's creation, enjoying the good fellowship of friends, or contemplating a piece of art before me, if there is one invitation that stands out clearest in my heart and mind, it is the invitation of Christ to come to the vineyard and abide in Him.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
By abiding and resting in Christ, we experience the love of the Father as Christ did. From fullness in Christ, there is always abundance and the overflow of God's love into the lives of those around us.
I'd like to encourage you to take time this weekend to rest in the love of God and to cultivate your soul by doing whatever makes your heart come fully alive.
So what is it? Is a bottle of wine and good food with good friends? A visit to a local gallery or museum? Time in your garden? A quiet walk in your favorite park? Reading a good book and a cup of tea? A hot bath?
Give yourself permission to stop. Take time. Rest. Abide.
Come fully alive.
Please leave a comment: Name a time of rest and/or vacation that truly renewed you. What was it like? What makes your heart and soul come fully alive? What activities or practices are good for your heart and soul?