I spent the afternoon looking for antler sheds. It’s really too early, but the weather was beautiful, especially for February. For about two hours I traveled the well-worn paths looking for any glimpse of the rare treasures left by an unsuspecting buck. I’m not sure if they know they are falling off or if they suddenly feel the release of their unique characteristic. Hunters name bucks according to the individuality of their rack. Without it, they are the deer version of John Doe. For smaller bucks, the loss of their antlers should seem a non-issue. After all, it’s not like that four-pointer had gained any respect with its larger male counterparts. But that mountain monarch is a different story. It has taken him years to attain his respect and notoriety. And it seems especially cruel to lose it against a flimsy twig that is normally no match for the mass of bone on his head. But even after all these years, he is taken down – seemingly crushed, until what is taken away is replaced with something even greater. Again, I’m not sure of any soulful thought this deer may have formed from this action, but I am sure about the questions mankind has when this crushing happens to us.
I’ve been listening and learning lately about the crushing God allows to come into our lives. The illustration is of the vinedresser or who we would call the vintner. Grapes are a beautiful and tasty fruit. The most mature grapes take a few years to produce. There’s no doubt the vintner feels a since of accomplishment when the vines produce the fruit they are meant to produce, especially when that fruit is of the highest quality. I can imagine the grape thinking (If grapes could think) how accomplished and successful it must be, that it became all that it was meant to become. And then something happens. The maturity is mashed. The accomplishments are crushed. The success is squeezed. The antlers fall off. For a moment, or several moments, one is left to himself, to wonder what just happened – to see that which made us stand out and that which gave us our individuality and unique characteristic, and the culmination of years, laying on the ground for someone to gather and collect while we continue to wonder what just happened. And while we are wondering, God is taking the sweet juice of the vine – the fruit of the fruit, and turning it into something that is not only valuable now, but will grow more valuable each year.
My friend, are you being crushed? Does it seem like the fruit it has taken years for you to produce is being pulverized under the pressure of uncontrollable circumstances? During this time, try to remember the real value is in the crushing. It takes it to bring out your true worth and to make you into what you were really meant to be. Not the best grape, but the finest wine.