Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been on a trip thinking you knew where you were going only to find out you might not be going the right way? One of the things I speak to groups about is the faith journey. I tell people that sometimes I wish God would just hand me a map with a little pin on it saying: YOU ARE HERE!

In our family I am usually the one with the map. Mike drives; I navigate. That works for us. I plan the trip. I know the stops. I always know where I am and where I am going. I like it that way. But sometimes God doesn’t tell us where we are going. He simply says: Follow me. In the wilderness the Hebrews were told to follow the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. Moses led them into an existence where they had to depend on God daily for direction, provision, and protection. No map. No little markers.

This week was one of those weeks where I needed to know where I was. I wasn’t sure I was going the right way. I wasn’t sure I even knew the destination. I was lost. As the week progressed I knew I had to keep a cool head, maintain a still and quiet heart, and respond rather than react. Lives depended on it. And I had to hear from God for direction. My heart was heavy throughout the week as I dealt with my own emotions and circumstances. Some days I could only turn to God and feebly whisper, “ Help.”

But today He graciously told me where I was. He said I was in the winepress. It brought me peace to know where I was. According to (don’t laugh) Wikipedia, “A winepress is a device used to extract juice from crushed grapes during wine making….Pressure must be controlled, especially with grapes in order to avoid crushing the seeds and releasing a great deal of undesirable tannins into the wine.”

So that is what I am going through? That is what God is doing in my life right now? He is allowing me to be crushed to bring forth new wine? To know that He is in control of the pressure so that only the best of me will be released is a little comforting. But does it feel good right now? No. The truth is that being stomped on and squeezed out hurts. I am being separated from the seeds and skins—parts of me that are not necessary in the wine. Personally, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the grape that I was. And that in itself is part of the problem. Just when I was getting comfortable with being me, a little grape, the Lord decided it was time to make some wine. He knew those skins and seeds had to be extracted.

I could write a whole blog on what those skins and seeds represent in my life, but I can’t today. I am still in the winepress. When I researched ancient winepresses I learned that there were treading floors where the grapes were crushed by the feet of the workers. That is the kind of week I have had. I have been stomped on under the feet of others. That is not a visual I want to dwell on, but in context, at least I know where I am. And I wasn’t particularly happy to learn that there was an area for a SECOND crushing using a single fixed-screw press. Eventually the liquid flows into areas where jars and wineskins are used to collect the wine for fermentation. The wineskins have to be new because the process is so active that old wineskins will burst. New fluid just cannot be contained in an old wineskin. After 40 days the fermented grape juice becomes wine. So for me, the process has just begun. But at least I know where I am.

According to tradition once the grapes were put into the winepress, the people would sing and shout. It was a time to rejoice. I suppose if you are the one stomping on a grape you might be having a good time (a la Lucille Ball), but I get the message. The Lord wants me to praise Him and rejoice through this process. He is making some really, really good wine. And you know what? I trust Him. If He says I need to rejoice through this, I will. I know this process is necessary…and it is going to be good.