My husband once noted that, for women, either they had a very close relationship with their father growing up or an awful one. Rarely is there a middle ground of neutrality in women’s relationships with their dads.
Often times, the relationship with our earthly father heavily influences the view we have of our Heavenly Father, God. Over time, my personal view of God (who He is and His view of me) has drastically changed. I’ve moved from vengeful, distant, spiteful, and a heavy-handed judge, to a close, loving, and tenderhearted Creator.
But some days, it’s a much bigger challenge for me to think of God and simultaneously also consider how richly He loves me. Some days I see my humanity all too clearly. Some days, no matter how hard I try, I get caught up in never being “enough”. Some days I feel alone, ashamed, and so far from where I “should” be. Today was one of those days.
As I worked through the tears, the shameful feelings that cloaked me, and the utter sense of being an infinite disappointment, I reached for my Bible and began reading John 15 and 16, where I have “parked” the last few days. I read no farther than John 15:1 before I was captivated by a word I hadn’t paid any attention to before.
What? A vinedresser? The closest I could come to relating a vinedresser to my current day world was hairdresser. Which led me to thinking about my outer beauty and what God thought of that and maybe He wanted me to go to a dermatologist.
Obviously, that rabbit trail wasn’t the point of the word… So, I headed over to my favorite online Greek lexicon (www.studylight.com) and looked up vinedresser, ready to find something amazing, something powerful, something entirely “other” to describe a deep mystery of God.
But, I didn’t.
I found that vinedresser referred to someone who worked the soil of the vines. A vinedresser was simply a farmer of the vines. He wasn’t the owner. He wasn’t a connoisseur of wines. He wasn’t wealthy beyond imagination. He just faithfully worked the soil. He had dirty hands. He was deeply involved with the growth, the health, and the food and water intake of the vines. A vinedresser would be intimately acquainted with every detail about the vines in his garden; the weakest ones, the strongest ones, and the ones that needed a little extra TLC. Only a vinedresser who knew the tiny details of the vine could be a good vinedresser. What struck me most about this definition was that the vinedresser in John 15:1 wasn’t Jesus. It wasn’t the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t even a famous pastor, like Paul. The vinedresser was God the Father Himself.
I (Christ) am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. – John 15:1
Even with all the ways that I have worked on changing my view of God, I still often imagine God as being a little farther removed. I think of God as guiding and directing Jesus while Jesus is the one actually involved in the day-to-day dirt of human life. Put another way, I think of God as the CTO and Jesus as the team member. Or another way, God is the doctor, but Jesus is the labor and delivery nurse.
Before my investigation of John 15:1, if you had asked me, “Who is the one who really loves you and is actually pulling for you?” Hands down, I would have said Christ Jesus, the 2nd person of the trinity.
But, that’s not biblical.
John 15 makes it clear that it’s God the Father who is in the nitty-gritty of my life and yours. Christ is the vine and we are to abide in Him and His love. We are to know Him, discover Him, stay with Him, and live out our daily life in light of that wonderful knowledge. But God the Father is the one with dirty hands. He is literally caring for the root system of our lives. He is watching our food and water intake. He’s cutting out the poisonous sins. He’s bandaging our wounds. His gnarly, wise, and weathered hands are knowingly touching our lives, sensitive to every bump, quirk, wound, and strength. God is in us, Christ is rooting us, and the Spirit is our life giving teacher and counselor feeding us pure wisdom. My understanding of the mysteries of the triune Godhead is limited at best, but the more I learn about the character and characteristics of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more I am utterly humbled and completely blown away by His greatness, His majesty, and His love. A love that is defined by humility and selflessness so that for God to “get his hands dirty” with the intricacies of humanity is a natural outflow of His Godhead character.
The next time you’re tempted to view God as being a far off father, watching your life go on, remember the dirty hands of your local farmer and know how closely his hands are related to the hands of your Heavenly Father. That, my friends, is the best kind of father anyone could ask for!