Put a generous cup or so of clean grapes in each sterilized quart jar. Add some sugar and fill the jars with boiling water. Process and once the lids have sealed, put them on your shelf for at least two months. The liquid and the sugar will leach the goodness right out of those grapes. When you open the jar, strain them out and enjoy what’s left behind. Perhaps not as much fun as jumping into the vat with Lucy and Ethel, but far cleaner and easier.
One day I decided to taste one of those strained-out grapes just to see what was left in it. I should have known—it was duller and several shades paler than its original shiny purple-black, and loose as a deflated balloon. How did it taste? Like sour nothingness. Maybe that’s what happens to us when we steep ourselves in the world.
Is wealth consuming your thoughts? “Just let me have enough,” is a lie we tell ourselves. He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income, Eccl 5:10. If you allow thoughts of riches to flood your life—even if you don’t have them--anything spiritual will be washed out of your heart. Notice the prediction God made about Israel: But [they] waxed fat, and kicked: you have waxed fat, you have grown thick, you are covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation, Deuteronomy 32:15. Their wealth (“fatness”) covered them so that it was all they could think about. Any notion of serving God was completely forgotten. If you think we aren’t at risk, just take a minute and look around. What used to be a God-fearing nation has become a people who worship wealth, power, and celebrity instead.
Other times we allow the pleasures and conveniences of this world to permeate our lives so that the mere thought of sacrificing anything, whether comfort, ease, or even opinion, will be smothered out of us. “Self” will leach the good out of hearts and minds, and leave nothing but the emptiness of indulgence. If your “rights” spring to your lips every time someone crosses you, you have stifled the spiritual character of yielding to others, whether your neighbors, the man in the car in front of you, or the brother who sits next to you on the pew. You have suffocated the spirit of mercy that marks us as His children. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh... For to be carnally minded is death… Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God, Romans 8:5-8.
But sometimes we simply drown in “stuff.” What do you do all day long? Run from this to that to another event, none of which is evil, but none of which is spiritual either. How do you feel at the end of the day? Drained, probably, and maybe even quicker to fall into the sins of impatience and intolerance simply because you are so tired. And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word; and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful, Matthew 13:22.
What are you floating in today? Will it make you sweet and useful to the Master, or will it leave you an empty, useless hull of a servant, one who will be strained out and thrown away? Let me know if you need a jar of my grape juice to sit on your shelf as a reminder.
My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food…For zeal for your house has consumed me, Job 23:11-12, Psa 69:9.