Spring is in the air. That means it’s time to clean up the yard, including doing some pruning. I love gardening. I always have, but I haven’t always understood the necessity to prune plants for healthy growth.
As a child, I remember watching my father pruning our shrubs and trees. I would have a hissy fit because he was cutting off some of the branches and cutting others way back. The way I saw it, he was ruining them. I gave him nothing but grief when he tried to prune anything. It was so bad that he finally waited until I wasn’t home to prune, so he didn’t have to listen to me.
The Necessity Of Pruning
Now many years later I realize that pruning is a natural and necessary part of gardening if you want healthy growing plants. It may be pruning away that which is dead and sapping life from the plant. Or pruning back that which is growing to produce more and stronger growth. If my dad were living I could hear him saying, “See, I tried to tell you.”
Ironically, my first attempt at pruning was, well let’s just say it was a disaster. About the age of 11, I tried to surprise my dad by trimming one of the shrubs. I guess I wanted him to see that I finally understood the necessity of pruning.
I thought I knew how to prune because I had watched my father do it before. So I cut and snipped the shrub. It didn’t look too good, so I pruned some more. But the more I pruned, the worse it looked. I stood looking in horror at the once beautiful shrub. All that remained was a stump. What had I done?
Optimum Growth Requires Pruning
I called my father outside to show him what had happened. I didn’t want to, but I knew I needed to fess up. I expected to be in a lot of trouble. To my surprise, he didn’t yell at me or tell me how stupid I was for ruining a perfectly good plant. Instead, he took me to another shrub and proceeded to show me the correct way to trim.
I failed at my first attempt at pruning because I tried to do it on my own instead of going to my father for help.
As I reflect on my pruning adventures with my earthly father, I realize they illustrate for me what Jesus is talking about in John 15.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:1-2, 4-5, 8 NLT
We can not become the fruit-bearing followers He created us to be if we don’t remain in Him. He makes it clear we can’t do it without Him. But what does it mean to remain in Jesus? It means we daily invest our minds and our hearts into maintaining our relationship with Him.
Let The Gardner Do His Job
How do we do that? We grow and maintain our relationship with Him by prayer and spending time in the Word. Other ways we maintain the relationship are through worship, giving, and serving others. But if we want to produce the best fruit and not just good fruit that will require pruning.
Pruning is often painful and sometimes hard to understand. I can understand that He wants to prune things out of my life that do not belong there. But does he want to cut out good things too? Yes, sometimes the good must be snipped off or pinched back so the best can grow.
One thing we must understand, when God takes His pruning shears to our lives, it is always because He loves us. He wants the best not just the good. He is doing it to help us become who He created us to be.
It is imperative to understand that Father God is the Gardner and it is His job to prune not ours. We must not take the pruning shears into our hands. If we do the results, though well intentioned, will be the same as my bungling attempt to prune the shrub. We cut too much or in the wrong place or even destroy.
As we remain in Jesus, we begin to accept the need for pruning for our spiritual growth and development. It is at that point we can invite the Father to prune what most needs to go. When we allow Him to do this our lives will become increasingly productive. We will be brimming with the best fruit. Fruit that will bring Him glory.
[reminder] Have you felt our Heavenly Father pruning any areas of your life? [/reminder]