In May I shared that I was having to remove rocks and put good soil into my garden as I planted out seeds. It’s now June and I am turning from planting to nurturing my plants.
It’s been fun for my boys to see plants growing fast! However, I am now faced with needing to remove stems and branches to ensure the plants remain healthy. I don’t profess to being a great gardener (in truth I am useless), but I am keen to see some veg and fruit from all my hard work! Surely, I can manage to grow a couple of cucumbers and tomatoes!
Before Jesus went to the cross, he gave a final sermon to his disciples. Right in the middle, he uses a gardening metaphor to describe the importance of growing spiritually and drawing strength from him—the true vine.
He also says, “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 15:2).
Jesus was telling the disciples, and all Christians, that he was setting them apart for a lifestyle of bearing fruit. Their fruit would come as a result of God’s intentional pruning.
After getting rid of the dead wood, the gardener gets down to the exacting work of pruning each shoot or branch. The purposes of pruning are to:
Allow the vine-dresser to shape the vine,
Produce maximum yield without breaking the branches with too many clusters for them to bear,
Protect against mildew,
Produce better quality wine, with more highly concentrated and flavourful grapes.
Of course, God prunes areas in our lives, too, so that you and I will become healthy and bear much spiritual fruit. Like the branches in Jesus’s story, we’re all unique, and our pruning won’t look the same. He will prune us differently, but this is a process we entrust to him, knowing that he is good and at work in our lives.
Often severe pruning produces the best fruit. The invitation isn’t to offer the bits of ourselves we think need lopping off. We need to put ourselves completely in the hands of the master gardener. CS Lewis puts it fairly bluntly…
“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!!
No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Pruning is preparation for something greater. Happy gardening!