…and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Has this ever happened to you? Just when things seem to come together and your grape-bearing life is growing gangbusters…SNIP.
“Ouch! What was that?”
“Ooh, that stung.”
–I am cut to the nub and some part of my branch falls to the ground.
This is the pain of pruning.
Pruning has a purpose; God does not prune growing things out of our life just to get our goat.
He is never capricious or mean-spirited.
By his very nature, God is all good, all holy, and all wise.
This part of John 15 refers to times when God prunes things from our lives so that we can bear even more fruit. There is fruit growing and all seems well…but then comes a SNIP.
God’s pruning comes in many forms and situations.
It comes for various reasons. For example, every time our family receives new orders for a military move, God prunes away the familiar and makes room for fresh growth.
I don’t like this process.
I don’t like myself in this process.
There is something about pruning that tempts me to shrivel up on the inside, pulling in to comfort and protect what is left. I can’t say that I have been happy or joyful about pruning. It is more of a bandaging up of the slice and saying through breath that rubs against the raw, “I believe God will bring something good from this loss.” At times, I repeat this in order to convince myself, but most of the time, I say this in faith.
I have seen God bring beautiful growth from the things He has cut away with His pruning shears.
Sometimes I confuse pruning with punishment, normal maintenance for failure. You too?
In this passage, Jesus is referring to a branch that is bearing fruit. It is doing what it is supposed to do. However, to the masterful eye of our Gardner God, He prunes according to his knowledge of the perfect balance of what we need and what He has planned. His sovereign grace cuts away that which will bring the greatest result.
The power of pruning is in the hand that bears the cutters.
The power of pruning is in the wisdom of God as he cuts away that which will hinder, that which will drain life and energy from our greatest fruit.
It is always for our good.
I forget that in the discomfort of pruning.
Long ago, I thought that music was my main gift. Singing was my joy and I had always been in choirs, praise bands, and often done solo work. After moving to a new city, we joined a church where there was no opportunity to sing with the praise band. It appeared to be a closed group, newcomers…not welcome. For a time this grated against my desire to sing. It frustrated me. It wasn’t right…not fair. When the harmony was occasionally off -key, my bad attitude flourished.
This was the year that I began teaching Bible studies. Before long I was teaching three studies a week: one in my neighborhood, one on the local military base, and one at my church. Slowly, I began to understand that God had trimmed back my involvement in music ministry in order to make room for the development of a different gift.
Fast forward many years–some years I have had sweet opportunities to sing, but teaching is a constant passion. Over time, teaching grew into speaking, and speaking blossomed into writing. I still enjoy singing, but I am so grateful for the additional gift God nourished through pruning.
This is the power of pruning: God brings healthy life and greater fruit.
We all experienced God’s pruning hand in our lives.
When you do, remember that it is through the pain of pruning that the power of pruning is released.
How has God used pruning in your life lately?