We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NRSV)
Last June, I decided to make dandelion wine. It sounded romantic. Early summer in a bottle. Weeds turned into wine.
At a city park, I convinced my wife to join the illegal harvest. Back home, we painstakingly separated the yellow petals from the green bracts until our fingers were stained and our bowl was full. I made a simple syrup, juiced and zested three oranges and a lemon, activated some champagne yeast, and threw it all in a jar to ferment.
Nine weeks later, I opened it up to bottle it, and it smelled disgusting. Sickeningly sweet. Overwhelmingly floral. (Almost like hundreds of dandelions…) I took a taste and knew that no one would ever drink this wine. But I’d put in so much time, I went ahead anyway.
I set a reminder for six months, and when it came up, I put the smallest bottle in the fridge. That night, I poured us each a tiny taste. We raised our glasses and prepared for disappointment.
But we were surprised. It was good. Light and not too sweet. Pale yellow, like early summer in a bottle.
Something had happened in that bottle. Something had happened over those months. A miracle. Weeds turned into wine.
Paul treats it as obvious: we know that all things work together for good for those who love God.
To me it is anything but. The whole project seems a mess. A waste. A total loss.
But I cling to the promise, even now: God is working. A miracle is underway. In the fullness of time, it will be good.
Jesus, winemaker, transform us.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.