“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” John 15:1-2,5,8,11,16
I love planting and watching those plants grow, from bright or fragrant flowering bushes to scented, flavorful herbs to showy orchids in the house or in my trees. It is always hard to trim off a branch that is errant but still green, to divide robust root tubers, to remove any part of a healthy plant, but it is necessary for a fuller, more fruitful plant, and always worth the pain of the cut, the ‘loss.’ I have found that pruning and patience (and a great climate) have produced magnificent, profuse blooms in my phalaenopsis, and I marvel at the spiritual truths they teach.
Jesus, in one of His last messages to His beloved disciples, explains the importance of abiding in Him and allowing the Vinedresser, His all-wise Father, to prune them in order that they bear fruit that will last and show themselves to be His, that they bring glory to Him and be filled with His joy. The priority must be abiding in Him and His word, continually soaking in the beauty and truth of Who He is, what He has done, and all He teaches. But abiding also involves a willingness to submit to the Master’s blade, His cutting off of tendencies, plans, activities that deter us from the greatest fruitfulness. It may be that I am busy with good things that He intends for another to do, or I get a notion for how I want to spend my time or resources that He knows will have no lasting effect. Do I bring my plans to Him? Does my daily abiding include an openness to hearing Him speak, even messages I don’t want to hear? It is easier to submit to the cutting off of what we know is unhealthy and saps our strength and resolve, than to say yes, Lord, You can take this good thing that I enjoy in order to make me more spiritually fruitful. When I yield to my Master’s skillful pruning, I may be giving up a comfort, a pleasurable diversion, a precise and ordered schedule I have made, in order to grow and blossom in a new skill, endeavor, ministry, or direction that He has planned.
Lord, keep me abiding, submissive to Your masterful pruning, showing forth Your Name and glory in the fruit I bear. Thank You for the gracious reward of joy and intimacy with You.