This past week Cheryl and I got together with some friends to experiment with a little wine making. We won’t know how it turned out for another six weeks, but the process brought to mind this article and sermon from about a year and a half ago. Since there’s a bunch of new folks around here these days, I figured it might be worth resurrecting it. Hope you enjoy!
God: The Divine Brewmaster
I recently read a newspaper article about the growing popularity of “home-brewing” – the hobby of brewing beer at home. It was an interesting insight into the process of how beer is made; from the selection of choice ingredients, through fermentation and bottling. The whole thing was quite fascinating.
I was amazed to learn what a delicate and careful process it is to take the basic elements of grains, hops, yeast and water and – after hours of labor and weeks of waiting – have it yield the preferred taste and “body” of the brewmaster’s choosing. It truly is a remarkable endeavor.
While it may be unconventional to think about the beer brewing process and gain insight to our relationship with God, my mind began to draw many parallels between the two.
The brewing process begins with the finished product in mind. The brewmaster knows just how he wants a particular batch of beer to taste, look and smell before he even begins his work. His goal is the perfect brew, and he is confident that his labor will ultimately yield a drink that will not only quench his thirst, but also suit his palette.
In much the same way God has his perfect image of us in mind before he even begins his work in our hearts. With Jesus as the “prototype,” he is confident that his finished work in our life will be a perfect and glorious reflection of his beloved son.
With this finished product in mind the brewmaster then selects the appropriate ingredients that will be blended together to bring his vision to fruition. Great care and careful attention are paid to the details in this stage of the process. He must know when the grains and hops are at their peak and ready to be used in brewing. He must know which types of grains should be used in precise proportions to bring about the desired flavor. It is here, with impeccable detail and great creativity, that the brewmaster lays the foundation for his masterpiece.
The ingredient list of our lives is too vast and diverse to comprehend. Each of us has been molded by our upbringing, relationships, life experiences, handicaps, strengths, interests and a host of other factors. And while the brewmaster carefully selects the ingredients for his beer, God gives even greater care and attention to the things he uses to mold and shape our lives. Each and every thing that is allowed into our life by our Creator is likewise used by him in the process of molding us into the perfect image of his son. There may be no greater display of God’s creative ability than the coalescence of our varying life ingredients into a pure and genuine reflection of Christ’s beauty!
After the brewmaster envisions his completed brew and carefully selects the ingredients he’ll need to produce it, he allows the mixture to ferment for a period of days and even weeks – several different times. This is a vital stage in the process as the ingredients and water are at work blending together to take on the form of the final product. It could even be said that the elements are growing into what the brewmaster intended them to become. All of this while the brewmaster is away from his creation; fully confident in the process he has set about.
While I do not believe that God ever leaves us, or that there is any time that God’s hand is not actively at work in our lives, this portion of the brewing process did remind me of those times in life when God appears to be silent.
We all have experienced those times when God appears to be distant and silent in our lives. No matter how alive or vibrant our spiritual walk may be, there are moments – sometimes extended moments – when we find the voice of God difficult to hear if audible at all. There are times when we can’t feel his touch and are painfully unaware of his presence.
We never seem to be aware of it but God is at work in the darkness. Although we feel disconnected and alienated from him during these times, the work he has begun in us continues. The ingredients – our experiences, personalities and background – have been set into motion by our Creator and are at work helping to mold us into who he desires us to be.
Often times it’s during these times of darkness and desperation where the richness of life is truly developed. In these times of quiet desperation we must cling to what we know of God to be true. We must trust in the work he has done in us already – in what he has taught us through our experiences to this point – and share in his confidence that the finished product will be the achievement of his divine and perfect plan.
When the brewmaster’s work is finally done, after weeks of careful labor and much waiting, his reward is a finely crafted drink that is brewed to his exact liking. When God’s work is complete in our lives his delight is in our bearing the image of his perfect son. After the working out of life’s circumstances, and the melding together of these elements over time, we then understand God’s perfect love for his creation – his perfect love for us. And in that we are made complete, a finely crafted design brewed perfectly for God’s purpose and by his love.