“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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 15:1-2 NIV
Recently, I got to take a trip to Tuscany in Italy. We stayed in the middle of a vineyard where I took my morning walk through rows of vines and ripening fruit. The experience took me back a couple of years to a gathering of Christians wanting to learn more about disciplemaking. One of the men who spoke, a sage of the disciplemaking community, opened my eyes to part of this Scripture I had not considered.
This man has also spent time in vineyards around the world learning about what the gardener is actually doing when he prunes the vines. He made the statement that the gardener is never closer to the vine than when he is pruning. He lifts the vine out of the dirt if it has fallen, he cleans the leaves, and places the vine in the most advantageous place to get the light it needs to grow. What a great picture of how our Heavenly Father, the gardener, loves and cares for us! I know I got down in the dirt in my life and certainly needed to be picked up, cleaned, and brought back into the light.
Then come the words “cuts off.” This part of what the gardener does is not as comfortable to think about. The gardener cuts away not just the bad, but also some of the good grapes that are growing in order to let the best fruit flourish. What? God might cut out things in my life that seem good?
As I thought more about this, it gave some perspective to things that have happened in my life that made me ask God “Why would you let this happen?”: Lost jobs, damaged friendships, the car that breaks down when you can least afford it, a church split... It hurts to experience loss of any kind, but what if it is God pruning us so we can bear more fruit, even much fruit, fruit that will last?
Daily Battle Order:
I'm still wrestling with this almost daily, but it has given me pause to not jump to an emotional reaction to something painful being removed from my life.
Take time today and read through John 15:1-17. Take this perspective of a loving Father/Gardener who sometimes removes what we think is good to make room for His best in our lives. Look back at some hard times you have experienced and ask yourself, ask God, if some of this was His pruning. See if you can’t find the fruit it produced, and then thank your Father for being willing to do hard things in your life that show how much He loves you.