“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2
Pruning can be a pretty painful business.
And sometimes it can look decidedly ugly before the blossoms bloom and prolific floral beauty prevails.
I’m no gardening expert, but I know when something is beautiful and I know when something is dead-looking. Therefore, every year when my husband “cuts back” (hacks to death) the rose bushes and trees and fruit bushes in our garden, I have to hold my tongue. And that’s no mean feat!
I remember the first time he went on a pruning frenzy, leaving a barren pile of sad sticks in his wake. In my horticultural naivety, I thought he had gone temporarily insane, but he assured me it was for the good of the garden, and that everything would come back more beautiful than before.
And what do you know… he was right! They did grow back, healthier and producing even more flowers and fruit than ever.
As Christians, we need some regular pruning, and it’s not always pretty or welcome. When we’re ineffective, not realizing our full potential, it’s up to God our gracious Gardener to trim us in and shape us up.
I’m not sure a bunch of half-hearted, wishy-washy, superficial Christians is what God has in mind for furthering His kingdom! But He loves us, knows our hearts, and is willing to put in the work with each one of us. We need to be ready and willing to be pruned, a constant work in progress, if we are to be truly FRUITFUL.
When we are undergoing the “pruning process”, we might feel discouraged, disoriented, and unsure of our sudden nakedness, thrown off kilter by our uneven branches. It’s hard to imagine we will ever be useful and beautiful again. But eventually, the buds WILL reappear, and when they do we see promise and strength and beauty- God’s handiwork. In us!
It doesn’t happen overnight, and patience and faith are key. “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” (Philippians 1:6) But when we are in full bloom and can look back on our journey, we see why we were stripped back, and that it was the best thing for us and made us stronger in our walk with Christ.
You see, God wants our very best. I find it beyond exhilarating to imagine the Almighty finds something precious and worthwhile in us that He can actually use and take delight in. A life which is full and rich and abounding with fruit.
The pruning might be painful, but the results will be prolific… for His glory.