Following is a message in the midst of Vineyard Days that I didn’t intend to write until the Lord indicated it was time. Given that a major portion of the State of Washington where I live is on fire, it would seem it is time. I unapologetically acknowledge the length of this post, so much so that it requires two parts. It is not meant to cause you to turn aside; rather, to press in all the more. May Holy Spirit speak truth to your heart in the manner in which He knows you hear Him. I pray we choose to listen deeply and well. Remember, the midnight hour of adversity is the time to listen that we might hear and see Him clearly.
August 20, 2015 – I went to bed last night with my spirit on alert. I was tired but recognized within me a desire to pray regarding the wildfires raging uncontrollably in not only Washington, but a good portion of the Pacific Northwest and down into California along the west coast of the United States. So, I asked Holy Spirit to help me to pray – which He did throughout the night. I slept little.
There must have been periods of rest though between 11:55 pm and 3:43 am – two instances I was aware of the time. It might best be described as in the Song of Solomon 5:2 (go figure) – “I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking: …” (which we will get to as it comes in Vineyard Days).
On a side note, I love the time on the clock of 3:33. Years ago I nicknamed it ‘Jesus time’ since three is His number, indeed the number of the Godhead. At 3:33 in the afternoon before this night of which I write, Wayne and I came out of our offices and I happened to note the microwave clock read 3:33. As per my usual outburst whenever I see those digits on the clock, I light-heartedly called out ‘Jesus time’! Little did I know that twelve hours later He was going to bring a word of reminder and a word to share. Though I got up and noted the clock at 3:43 am, it had been about ten minutes I lay musing. Had I looked at the clock when the word came, I would not have been surprised to see it reading 3:33 am.
The word of reminder came in the recalling of a number of prophecies about the Pacific Northwest. Numerous times in past years by numerous prophetic voices, the word had come that the PNW was going to be alight with the fire of God. That many would come to this northwestern quadrant of the United States because of the mighty move of God taking place. That it would be a light in the dark world, as scripture has promised that those who are His disciples (called by His Name) will be manifested – like a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).
The word He shared came immediately after the reminder in the form of a question: “How will they come if the land has not first been purged?” I knew it was Him speaking as it resonated within me.
When I got up at 3:43, I asked Him to not let me forget this exchange. As you have read, He did not.
So, what does this have to do with two kinds of flames? Bear with me as I share the message that applies not only to this current fiery state of the Pacific Northwest, but is applicable for places throughout the earth where His believers reside. It also has much to do with Vineyard Days and the progressive growth in our own spiritual walk and preparation for deepened union with our Bridegroom King.
THE FIRST FLAME is a purifying fire. The Word tells us in Deuteronomy 4:24 – ‘for the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.’ That verse is tucked in the midst of a powerful word in Deuteronomy 4, verses 15-31 and on through verse 40. I encourage you to read it prayerfully, truthfully, in a spirit of repentance and seeking heart to return to your covenant-keeping Father. The same One who desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6) and searches the heart (Jeremiah 17:10).
We do not escape His searching if we are a true disciple of His. Remember the Bride who will be found without spot or wrinkle, having prepared herself. It is in the purifying fire she is made pure and holy. The fire is not fickle. It burns whatever is in its path that cannot stand up to His searching, be it our works, our beliefs, or those we esteem above and in spite of the Lord, Who is above all.
What remains is what is built on the Foundation, Jesus Christ. (I encourage you to read I Corinthians 3, particularly in the Amplified Version if you have it available).
I remember when the truth of the purifying fire first impacted me. It was in the viewing of a 1995 movie titled A Walk in the Clouds starring Keanu Reaves as a soldier returning from WWII. He meets a young woman on the bus who is headed home from college to help with the grape harvest and meet her father whom she fears, for reasons which I will not spoil the entire movie plot! The vineyard is called Las Nubes which means ‘the clouds’ – thus the movie’s title.
What I will share is the grim and frightening scene of the vineyard on fire. An argument between two men near the edge of the vineyard causes an overturned lantern to ignite a nearby bush. Though drunken effort is made to quench the flames the fire licks up the first vine, then the next, and the next…
When the camera draws back and the entire vineyard comes into view, the midnight sky has become the backdrop for line after line, row upon row of crackling orange, leaping flames of fire. A total loss of the vineyard. Or is it?
What happens next is the perfect picture of where Vineyard Days began quite some time ago:
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God–a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.
Isaiah 53:1-2 MSG
And there shall come forth a Shoot out of the stock of Jesse [David’s father],
and a Branch out of his roots shall grow and bear fruit.
Isaiah 11:1; Romans 15:12
Paul (Keanu Reaves) refuses to accept the family’s, particularly the father’s, last nail in the coffin verdict. He goes to the head of the vineyard where was planted the original stock brought over from the Old World. When first planted, it represented the very lifeblood of the family – for if it took root, from that stock a vineyard would form, grow, and bear fruit. It had fulfilled its part as the stock and a thriving, producing, sustaining vineyard was raised up.
Unfortunately and as is the lot of our fleshly nature, the vineyard was zealously tended while the real relationships around which the vineyard revolved began to suffer. Their lifeblood turned to bad blood. Until came the devastating fire…
Paul draws out his pocket knife and reaches beneath the charred soil. At first glance he is met with a blackened root of death to the stock. Not easily dissuaded, he scrapes away the burned outer hull until he sees something that causes hope to spring up. Calling over the old patriarch who has hated him so, he coaxes him to ‘just take a look.’
There is a change of countenance and outward witness when one confronted with the reality of great loss takes another look and discovers life remains.
So it is with the aged father along with his wife, his family and his laborers as he confirms what Paul sees hopefully to be true. Life remains, preserved through the fire, in the old stock from which a new vineyard will form, grow and bear fruit. Though smeared with soot and smelling of smoke, they rejoice – for though the old is gone, the new has come.
Dear readers, this is not meant to be conveyed as just a nice story of metaphor with some Hollywood artistry thrown in. There is no denying the choking smoke in the air, the loss of life and homes, businesses, land, and in the beautiful wine country of Chelan, WA – no doubt, some real vineyards.
My husband took me to Chelan for my birthday in March. Though we were both born and raised in Washington State, neither of us had ever been to Chelan. For early March, it was an exquisite Spring weekend. We experienced the community, the scenery, the atmosphere and returned home refreshed. It hurts our hearts to remember the way it was and to see news pictures of its near devastation from the raging fires. At present it is only 50% contained. The winds prevail, the hot summer temps continue. It seems hopeless that much will remain protected there and all over our state and neighboring ones.
Yet I know, I know, all this – the consuming fire; the message of Vineyard Days; the call to the Church, His beloved Bride – is His yet holding open the door of His grace and mercy to all who will respond, that His joy and ours may be full, complete. Finished. I’m talking to disciples. He is serious in His ardent love.
There are many going through consuming fires of a different nature: cancer, deaths of loved ones, lingering illness, financial loss, care-giving and burden bearing beyond human strength, deep heartaches, broken and wounded relationships, loss of home or job security – the list goes on.
It is a picture of the Body of Christ, Whose vineyard we are, caught in the midst of raging fire. It is both a time of warning and a time of encouragement. Holy Spirit’s wind of His all-consuming love will mark the victory when the prevailing winds of His purifying fire subside and the flames are quenched.
For those who yield anew their very lives to Him, new life cannot help but follow. But I exhort you, when it does, take care how you rebuild. Do not turn back seeking to reinstate the way it was, for the old order has been removed by Christ himself in order that His new order come into your life and living.
How do you rebuild? Like Job – who put his hand over his mouth, stopped speaking and listened to the I Am’s recounting of I Am. In the darkest time of his life – his midnight hour of adversity – by the time I Am finished, Job knew who he was and Who the Lord is. In humility and submission, he acknowledged that his ears had heard of Him, but now his eyes had seen Him. Big difference.
With a repentant heart, Job went on to live in obedience to the Lord’s word. As a result, the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first (before the devastation). Job lived in this life restoration by the hand of the Lord. But it came about because he learned to listen and obey. (Job 42)
Part 2 will follow, but not at present. The ongoing story of the Shulamite – and us – will pick up again in Vineyard Days. When we reach the appropriate point, the second flame of fire will be brought forward.
I pray you choose to continue the journey in order that your steadfast hope becomes a tree of life. There is life in the stock of Jesse.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12 AMP
~ Gracefully Free
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at shammahsfield.com and nancybentz.com.