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. John 15:1-2
The Lord laid this scripture on my heart this morning. This one is always a special one to me. I guess it is one of my life verses. Having studied horticulture, all of the scriptures where Christ uses agriculture to teach have become some of my favorites. Several years ago, I was going through a particularly hard time. As I read this scripture, I realized that areas of my life were being pruned by THE Master Gardener in order that I would bear more fruit. I would never fear being cut away completely from the Lord, as I am saved by His merciful grace. As believers, we are tried and tested, pruned and shaped, so that we can grow more in His image and bring Him more glory. Part of being a believer and living the life of a Christian with a loving relationship with our Father, we must bear fruit.
I'm just going to lay it out here. Several years ago, God brought a friend into my life when I thought I needed one most. For her friendship, I was so very thankful. Without going into the all of the details, God pruned our friendship. I was devastated. I had absolutely no idea what God was doing in my life. Let's just say I played the victim - constantly wondering what I did wrong to end the friendship. To this day, I still don't know what I did that was so horrible to her. I guess that was the hardest part. Accepting the fact that for whatever reason - she didn't like me anymore. Wow. That sounds so juvenile. Anyway, we just had shared so much over the course of three years. It was just. so. painful. Through much prayer and study, over much time, God revealed to me that during this friendship, I had turned my focus away from God. I had turned away just enough that I was no longer bearing enough fruit....juicy, plump fruit. As I read John 15, I realized that I was being pruned. This area of my life was being taken away...by The Master Gardener Himself.
There are several reasons why a plant needs to be pruned.
1. Allow more light to get to the interior of the plant. WOW. As Jesus is the LIGHT, I would say that pruning must be done so Jesus can change our hearts...our INTERIOR. Also, many times light is blocked by the crowding of branches. It's not that the branches are bad, or diseased. They are just in the way, blocking light from other branches, causing them to bear less fruit. Do you have so many branches growing that they are blocking the Light of Christ from shining on each other?
2. Pruning is important to remove those little vigorous shoots at the base and along the trunk of the fruit tree. These are called "suckers." They show up in the early growing season. Suckers are fast growers, stealing much needed energy and nutrients from the developing fruit. They must be pruned away so that all of the energy of the plant goes toward developing that precious fruit.
We recently have attempted to save some deciduous magnolias from one of Brett's job sites. The trees were going to be thrown away. We brought them home and place them in a holding area for a while (actually a LONG while) until the final grade was done and we could put them in their new home on the farm. During the move and the long wait, the trees underwent stress. The dropped all their leaves, and we thought they were going to die. After lots of water and mild temps, they started to leaf out again, and then came the suckers. Once we planted the trees where they belonged, pruned the suckers, and gave them much needed water, they started to grow.
3. Pruning must be done to remove diseased branches, branches with parasitic growth or insect pests. Diseased branches can quickly infect other branches causing a quick decline in the plant, less or no fruit, and ultimately it's demise. Diseased and pest infected branches are usually easy to detect. Thank goodness.
4. Pruning must also be done to remove branches that rub close together. The constant rubbing can cause injury to the branches. This can weaken and wound them, making them susceptible to disease and insect attacks. Are some of your branches rubbing too close together. Is there enough room for you to grow and bear fruit?
I am constantly being pruned. As believers, we all are. Is your current pruning particularly painful? Mine is.