“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.
-This is to my Fatherʼs glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
-You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
~John 15:1-2, 8, 16 NIV
As the vineyard is planted (salvation), the plants (us) begin to grow amidst rocks and weeds that can choke out growth and must be removed. The vine (us) and the environment is prepared (discipline). These actions result in that individual plant (us) beginning to rapidly grow and show signs of promise/opportunities as young fruit begins to develop. This is when God as a Gardner is literally “hands on” in our lives and begins to prune; remove growth and shape our lives when we listen to His will.
Our Father knows that there are many good things available to each of us, but many of those seemingly good things are not a fit with His will, our unique talents, capabilities or relationships.
God does not want us to be mediocre, or chasing the world’s “standard”.
We each bear His image and are to do things with excellence and bring Him glory, giving him the credit (that’s the real definition of humility). So God will stop us, will remove what seems good to us, will even cause us to sacrifice and deal with pain.
God will direct our steps away from a job promotion, a school choice, a seemingly attractive potential spouse, a great hobby. He will even have us change churches as we enter new seasons of life. God will orchestrate events which may prohibit you from your own goals and plans. This can flat out suck at times, as we question and wrestle with why a good thing ended.
Many awkward, and at times, painful things have happened in my life; losing a dream job, forced to move and away from good friends, injuries that had me stop some loved endeavors and aspirations. Slowing down, pausing and looking back I can see the paving stones God laid down as he directed my path, a path I would have never picked. God has pruned my career, my hobbies, my friends and even my finances to get me to where I am today. I thank God that He shaped and directed me. For I am now living a blessed life that I couldn’t imagine or reached on my own.
Embracing what seemed to suck, I now see the choice fruit of my life blossoming, and while more pruning may occur; I know the best is yet to come. Through pruning I reflect the master more and more each day.
Daily Battle Order:
Dare to ask God what is a good thing He wants to remove from your life. I suspect you already have an inkling of what that is; maybe a career aspiration, an advanced degree, a long pursued relationship, the clothes in your closet you might wear, a prized art collection/gun, your dream vacation.
Check out this video from Francis Chan on pruning and finishing well.