I have had a few thoughts swirling in my head this past week and felt the tug to write through them on here. John 15:1-2 "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." I have heard this passage has been taught on many times, yet it has taken another turn in my life. When the Lord has cut off branches that do not produce fruit in my life there has been pain, but it makes sense, yet as this passage states He also prunes those branches that do bear fruit. The Lord gave me a picture of a rose bush in fall, it is tall, the branch making it look as if next year the bush will be bigger and bloom more than ever. This is deceiving. I remember the first year I had a rosebush, thinking this would make it a better bush the next year. The problem is with the long branches now that the rosebush is putting all its' energy into giving life to these branches there is little energy left to be given to producing rosebuds, the "fruit" of the bush.
This struck me in a new way. Pruning is not all about getting rid of the dead and diseased branches, it is also about cutting back the good. We cut back the good so that our energies are for those things to which we have been specifically called. I have done this numerous times as I cut back my rosebushes and I have done it some in life. However this fall as I began this new journey I had to cut many, many things out. It has been painful. In roses it looks like we are killing the bush, yet for more fruit this is what is necessary. In our lives it can feel like death, taking from our lives these "good" things that feel like they give us life. If I am totally honest, it is not until the pain is too great that I am willing to pry open my hands and give up what have been grasping to for dear life. Others may not understand how we can give up "good" things and may resist us. However, it is a necessary season. And as everything is cut back bare, we can only rely on Jesus to give us what we need as we are no longer filled by these other things. Then, we are able to put our energies into those few branches left and they can bear abundant fruit. Living an abundant life does not mean there will never be pain, it means we pour into the few things Jesus calls us to rather than the many the world calls us to.
For me as I have struggled through the pain of this season, it helps to remember it is a season and it is for my good. It is not punishment, but love that calls us into these times of pruning.
I invite you to take this deeper. Take some time in quiet contemplation and ask yourself the following questions. Invite Jesus to be present with you and ask Him what is His view in this.
Where season are you in? A few I can think of are: the budding season, the growing season, the harvest, dormancy and the season of pruning.
If you are in a season of pruning, how does it feel? Has it felt like punishment? Can you ask Jesus about this? Why is He pruning you?
Are there things to which you are clinging because of the bits of life they bring? What does Jesus invite you to? Many times we cling to these things and Jesus invites us to open our hands. Can you physically do that right now? Clench your hands, notice how you feel. Then release and open your hands, notice what happens inside.