Life in the Winepress – Matthew 16:24
“…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
I know little about winepresses other than what I recall from an “I Love Lucy” episode decades ago during which she stomped all over the grapes. I remember the vehemence needed to smash those grapes to smithereens to produce wine. I had no idea what self-denial was when I became a believer in Christ. Since becoming a follower, I have learned what it feels like to be one of those grapes being crushed, stomped on, smashed, stepped on, smooshed and broken with the goal of there being nothing left of “me” so I can be utterly filled with God’s Spirit. Can you fathom the pain of those grapes? I can. Self-denial is like being a grape in the winepress. Who would want a life like that? I do.
Grapes are not crushed to pieces with no purpose; they produce delicious wine. Learning to deny myself and live according to God’s ways instead produces the most amazing wine in the universe – an intimate, loving, forever relationship with God. I once saw self-denial as turning my back on a history of drunkenness, chasing drunk men in bars, landing in the wrong beds, starving myself to death, etc. The obvious. But the more wine that is produced through me as I say no to my own dreams, agendas, ways, etc. in favor of God’s ways and plans, the more I see it’s a denial of everything about self. A bad attitude, complaining, self-pity, revenge, bitterness, jealousy, worry, bad-mouthing people, pride, holding back God’s love, hurting people & dogs, living for me instead of for God. Why live a life of self-denial? Because every drop of wine produced as the grapes of our flesh get mashed, and oh how it hurts, is another drop of communion in breathtaking fellowship with God!
Are you in the winepress? Is it time to jump in?