I have read that the best time of year to prune a grapevine is in the late winter towards early spring. As the Master Gardener, I believe God knows this and prunes you and I along the same seasons in our lives.
Some may remember the blog post I wrote at the beginning of this year, “The Winter of My Soul.” During that season of life, I felt God hiding me in the shelter of His wing. Though all seemed dormant, it was a season where my roots grew deep as my Father daily met with me face to face showing me the depth of His love and the outpouring of His grace. When I entered my winter, I felt confused, lonely, and stunted. But I left it refreshed, confident, and secure.
I believe God set me firm on this foundation as He knew what was to come: my pruning.
I am the grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so that they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
To prune literally means to cut away. One definition says, “reduced the extent of (something) by removing superfluous or unwanted parts.”
While God’s pruning is for our good, it doesn’t always feel good. When I began to realize I was entering my pruning season, it started out as an excruciatingly painful experience. Though the superfluous characteristics in me were causing me to die spiritually, the very much so flourished in my flesh. To have them cut off wounded my tender humanity. I ached as God dealt harshly with my sinful nature.
While I wanted to retreat into myself as the tedious pruning process began, my roots were set outside of myself.
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.
Though I have professed christianity the majority of my life, I rededicated myself to Christ last year and from that point on truly made my faith my own. God took His time with me, showing me the just how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is for me so that I might be able to withstand this pruning process.
Pruning is not just painful; it is equally humbling. The thought of bearing fruit is exhilarating! But pruning shows that none of it is out of us.
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.
“Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Those words sting my sensitive pride. I don’t truly want to be saved. A damsel in distress never appealed to my ego.
But pruning shows that no good fruit comes out of anything I in my flesh create. In order to flourish, it is not the bible lessons that are snipped out from me. The calluses the world gave me, the attitudes culture encouraged to me, the lies the devil established in me are the attributes that needed to be thrown in the brush pile. All these things were things of myself I clung so dearly to and are so humbling to hand over.
Still, I hand them over. That knee to knee time God spent with me showed me His unending grace poured out upon me. It enlightened me to the fact that this life of mine truly isn’t about me at all. I am merely a vessel for Him to work through. This fact I need constant reminders of, but truly, I am so grateful for a God and a plan for my life mightier than anything I could ever formulate on my own.
Even through the painful, humbling process, I am so grateful that God cares enough about me to not leave me alone.
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile and burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
If I were not to be pruned, I would be a useless branch. The fact that God pursues me to trim me so that I might be blessed enough to produce fruit and be called His true disciple overwhelms me. I see now that my Father works on me because of the depth of His care for me. Leaving me alone in my sin and dead branches would be the most unloving thing that could ever happen to me. As long as we are willing to listen to the holy words of God, He will never leave us to wither away in ourselves.
Though the conviction still ruffles my selfish nature, I am learning to rejoice when correct! I am loved so deeply that I am delivered from myself! Without the barrier of my sins getting in the way, I am able to boldly approach the throne to speak with my Father.
I know I will forever have twigs and limbs that need pruning, but I welcome the momentary pain. It prepares me to look forward with anticipation for the good fruits that are going to be produced within me.