Sunday, March 25, 2007
“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 bears fruit, He
prunes it, that it may bear more
fruit." John 15: 1-2
Earlier this week I did some work in my flower garden. I had a new pair of pruning shears, and I was ready to do some necessary trimming. Every year the Lantana freeze and their long branches die. It is necessary to cut them off so the new branches have room to grow. The Salvia had become long and leggy and didn’t have much new growth. The same was true of the Texas Sage that grows beside the front porch.
And so I went to work. Being a girl with a very vivid imagination (something I never seem to have out grown) I pictured the plants cringing when they saw me coming with those sharp, new shears. “Oh no. Here she comes again. She’s going to cut away with abandon, and it hurts. Why can’t she just leave us alone? We’re growing perfectly fine without all that unnecessary pain. Look we even have new leaves and are putting out new branches. We’re producing. Leave us alone!!”
However, being just a bit wiser than my sweet little plants, I knew something they did not. It was the very painful cutting that was going to make them stronger and more productive. Take the Texas Sage for example. I cut it back drastically last year, and its branches grew fuller and stronger than they ever had before. It produced the most beautiful lavender blossoms all summer long. It was a delight to just look at it.
The same is true for the Lantana and Salvia. I cut them back until it looks as though there isn’t any life remaining, but before long the new growth appears. In just a matter of a few weeks they are full, luxurious plants with beautiful flowers. The pruning was, no doubt, painful – but the results were stronger, healthier, more productive plants.
Jesus told us that He is the vine, and we are the branches. The Father is the vinedresser. He does the work of making us more fruitful. He does it lovingly, knowing that it is in the very process of painful pruning that produces more fruit. Like my little plants I dread the pruning time. I wish things could just stay as they are. After all, I’m doing okay. I see fruit in my life. Why is it necessary to go through that painful process?
I have been through a time of pruning – and it is a very painful process. At the time I didn’t care a bit about bearing fruit; I just wanted it to be over. The Father, being so much wiser than this little “plant”, knew that it was necessary work. He had something so much better in mind for me than the status quo. He wanted to bring me to a place of trust so that He could grow me stronger and healthier and then use me to bear fruit for His kingdom. I am still a work in progress. I am still learning, but I have done a bit of growing too. I have learned more about my Father in this season of pruning than I could have possibly learned without it.. He is faithful; He is love; He is my peace.
I heard Dr. Dobson give an illustration of this once, and I have never forgotten it. He spoke about a time when his son was just a toddler. He had a very bad ear infection, and it was necessary for the doctor to probe inside that very painful ear. That helpless little boy lay on the examining table, and the doctor asked Dr. Dobson to hold him still. As the painful process began, that precious child looked into his father’s eyes with such tearful confusion. “Why are you hurting me Daddy?” they seemed to say. There was no way to explain to such a young child that this was all being done for his good. He only knew that his father was allowing him to go through a lot of pain.
So it is with me. There are some things I will never be able to understand this side of heaven, but I have a Father who loves me and only does those things which are for my benefit. I rest in that.