Joanna Davidson Politano

A Rumored Fortune (August 2018)

Dry spells are the worst. Most of them happen when I’ve filled my life with wonderful things that create a chaos of busyness in my everyday existence, which hinders or completely eliminates that much-needed, soul-drenching alone time with God. This quiet time is to me what coffee is to some people, and I just can’t function in the day without it.

Yet I’ve often tried. I prioritize the “urgent” matters or the must-dos, putting out fire after fire with most of my time, pushing aside things that truly bring life to my heart. I don’t realize how my lack of “coffee” is affecting me until I return to it and again feel whole and healthy. What a difference there is between a “full life” and being full of life!

In the process of researching my second novel, A Rumored Fortune, I studied vineyards extensively. They go through dry spells too, and just like with people, you can’t always tell it from the outside. (Sound like your life at all? It did mine, at times.) In a vineyard, a poorly-grafted branch might look connected and fully alive, complete with beautiful leaves, but the fruit will be bitter and immature and the branch weak because it’s only receiving a trickle of sap. It can survive for a long time with this trickle, but is that what we really want—survival?

The heroine in my novel went through a dry spell and she tried to flood her life with so many “fixes” in the process. She attended to the urgent (finding the money she needed to survive), she sought comfort from people around her (who eventually betrayed or disappointed her), and even opened herself up to a bad romance to avoid being alone. So as I was sinking deeply into some wonderful time with God in my vineyard research every day, connecting with Him and really soaking it up, seeing the difference in my life, I prodded my character toward that same strong connection she desperately needed. Her search for life was only satisfied when she understood what the true vine was, and connected to it wholeheartedly.

That leads to another discovery I made in the research—pruning. Remember what I said above about being overloaded with good things? That’s where pruning can be life-saving. All vineyards will grow a huge abundance of grapes—more than a branch can support or feed. Farmers handle this in two ways—first, they tie them to guidewires for support (which I liken to Scripture). Second, they strategically prune.

God graciously does the same with us. You see, when a branch is weighted down with too many grapes, beautiful and luscious as they may be, it strains the branch’s connection to the vine, and nothing is worth weakening that. It’s the source of all life for the branch. So what does our gracious Heavenly Father do? He removes some of our fruit—some of those wonderful things crowding our life and weighing us down—so that we can lighten our load and strengthen that connection to our True Vine, which is Him.

Pruning is utterly discouraging and painful, but it’s also a reason to hope. After all, God only prunes a branch that will be effective. As you experience pruning, remember that God’s goal for us is not more fruit but a stronger connection, more of Him, and He’ll do whatever it takes to give us that. This is a merciful act of love, because true abundance in life comes only from Him.