“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
A friend recently told me about a fascinating conversation he had had with a professional gardener.
First, my friend described how professional gardeners approach rose gardens. They will intentionally cause harm, hacking away at all of the dead branches, leaving a skeleton of what used to be there. But cutting off unnecessary limbs actually enables the healthy parts of the plant to receive the nutrients they need. The pruning fuels the health and growth of the plant. The pain enables it to become more beautiful.
He also explained the phrase “stressed vine.” Professional gardeners will sometimes intentionally withhold nutrients from a young plant. The plant is then forced to struggle, working with all its might to survive. As a result of this “stress,” the plant’s roots grow deep down into the soil. If the gardener did not do this, the plant would have shallow roots and become too top heavy. When wind or storm or rain came, the plant would fall over and be swept away.
Though it seems counterintuitive, it’s actually loving to withhold nutrients from the plant for a time, because this paves the way for growth and flourishing later on.
Pruning. Pain. Stress.
These are the means the Father uses to cultivate beauty and flourishing in our lives.
A sin exposed.
A difficult conflict with someone.
Waiting in the darkness for God to show up.
Idols and dreams taken away from you.
The death of a friendship.
These are painful. But in Christ, God can use the pain in our lives to fuel our growth.
Ponder for a minute: Where might the Father be pruning you?
The verse above (John 15:1) ends with two sources of encouragement.
First, the pruning process produces more fruit. The Father will sometimes prune you, withhold things from you, cause you more pain – because he’s good. Because he loves you. He wants you to bear more fruit. Too often we give all our energy and time to dead things. He wounds in order to heal.
The second encouragement involves the Father’s presence and care. As my friend was reflecting on his conversation with the professional gardener, he wisely said, “The hands of the Father are never more near to you than when He is pruning the vine.”
As you live the Christian life, remember that when you are being pruned, the Father has never been closer.
This verse teaches us God works all things together for our good. What are some issues in your life with which you need to trust God?
Reflect on the Lord’s work and faithfulness in your life from when you became a Christian to today.
There is wisdom in embracing discipline instead of despising it. In what areas of your lives do you lack discipline? How can you cultivate self-control?
God disciplines us that we might “share in his holiness” and produce the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Reflect on how discipline in your life has led to peace and holiness.
Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. Where do you try to live life apart from God?
All of the Father’s pruning is a result of his love for us. God commands us to abide in his love. What do you think this means practically, day in and day out?
Those Winter Sundays
BY: ROBERT HAYDEN
Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold
Then with cracked hands that ached
From labor in the weekday weather made
Banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking
When the rooms were warm, he’d call
And slowly I would rise and dress
Fearing the chronic angers of that house
Speaking indifferently to him
Who had driven out the cold
And polished my good shoes as well
What did I know, what did I know
Of love’s austere and lonely offices?