Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I am the vine; you are the branches . . . Any branch that does not bear fruit [the Gardener] cuts off, while any branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15)

I have a hopelessly black thumb, but I still understand the concept of pruning.  I recognize that when the flowers on the little plant behind my sink die, I need to pull them and their dead stems out to make room for new living ones to grow. So the idea of God trimming out the deadwood in my life to make room for new growth makes good sense.  Yay, God.  Thank you, Jesus.

But the late, great Andrew Murray informed me during my reading last night that trimming a vine is not just cutting out the deadwood.  It is "the cutting off of the long shoots of the previous year . . . the removal of something that is a proof of the vigor of its life."  The gardener seeking fruit from his vine trims off living, thriving sections of the branch.  Why?  Because it will waste sap that could be used for fruit. 

And again, the goal is fruit.  The goal is not a large, dramatic branch structure for someone to look at and admire.  The goal is as much good fruit as possible, which requires only one or two inches of wood -- enough to hold the grapes -- as close to the central vine stem as possible, so as to get the maximum amount of sap.

A sobering thought.  What living, thriving stuff does God prune away in my life because it sucks away from the fruit he intends my life to bear?  Religious activity . . . all the very good, very beneficial activities I get myself involved in that simply spread me too thin to be effective in any of them.  Excess "learning" . . . all the articles and commentaries and pithy sayings that I'm bombarded with in the media, all of which distracts me from the primary lesson he's working on in me. 

Even -- and oh, this is sad -- people.  People he has used to grow me in the past, whose friendship gives me great joy, but whose regular maintenance needs (all friendships require maintenance) suck time and energy from new directions God has sent me on.  Work . . . passions . . . our upcoming move may even be a method of pruning.  I expect it probably is.

I can cheer God on when he trims the deadwood out of my life.  But I'm likely to scream bloody murder when he starts whacking away at the stuff I like, that I think is supporting me, making me stronger and more beautiful.  The grand structure of My Branch . . . which is all about me and not about fruit.  I forget the blessing of being a bearer of fruit -- how much more satisfying it is to see God do great things through a weak me than it is to see a delusional me delude myself with my greatness.

Prune away, Lord.  Make me want the fruit as much as you do.

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