And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. (Luke 5:37 NASB)
Raisins. That seems an odd topic for a morning devotional, doesn't it? They are perfect for a morning breakfast cereal or even a mid-morning snack. If you are trying to make wine from grapes, however, they are not so good.
When harvesters pick the special varieties of grapes used in making wines, those grapes are earmarked from the beginning for wine. They are not destined to be table grapes (the ones we eat) or raisins. As wine grapes, they go straight into the wine-making process. Inevitability, there are some grapes that are missed in the harvest. Those grapes may be perfectly juicy and ripe, but they were missed in the harvest for one reason or another. Left alone on the vine, they will eventually wither and dry up, forming what we call a raisin. Raisins on the vine may be a tasty surprise, but they are, sadly, a failure of harvesting.
When I raised grapes, there were always stragglers that matured later than the first grapes. They were no less tasty, they simply required additional picking. The only way to prevent what I call vine-raisins is to return to the field after the first round of harvesting and check the vines again.
For the Christian, we are called to the harvest by Christ Himself. It is our God-appointed job to share the gospel with as many as we can and bring as many people as possible to faith in Christ. Just as God expects the "whole tithe", He also expects the "whole harvest". He is not willing for any to perish and we should not be, either.
It is easy to look at the bulge on a grape vine and think, "That will never be a grape." It is also easy to look at someone who is estranged from Jesus and think, "They will never be saved." We may be wrong in both cases. We are not called to predict what will happen. We are called to stay in the fields until the entire harvest is gathered.
I shudder to think what would have happened to me and my son if someone hadn't "returned to the fields" for me.
There is no one who is beyond God's grace and they should not be beyond our willingness to reach out to them, either. Do not be deceived. We will be accountable for the fruit left in the field because of unwillingness or plain laziness on our part.
As we pray today, ask for eyes to see the "fields that are white unto harvest" and that God will show you where He wants you to work. Pray for willing laborers and receptive hearts. Pray that perfect laborers will work the fields where our own prodigals reside and that those workers will stay the course until ALL the harvest is in.