My Dear Hubby and I completed our ongoing discussion about pruning today. It started about 5 years ago when he pruned the two abundantly fruitful peach trees in our yard after they blossomed. Both trees were so insulted they never bore fruit again. Wife freaked out, but recovered and forgave. Then he pruned the apple tree, which was not very fruitful. Smaller freak-out from the wife that time. Ordered a book on how to prune a small fruit tree. Changed her mind that he maybe shouldn’t read that book and hid it. Bought and planted two new peach trees. Oddly enough last summer both trees were loaded with quarter-size peaches one day and the next day every one was gone – none on the ground, none bitten into. Would a squirrel have done that? Better to have angst transferred to a squirrel than to husband who does everything else beautifully.
Found the book today and he pruned the two new peach trees. I haven’t looked yet – will look tomorrow. The reason I didn’t go out and look today was I got to thinking about pruning and when word thoughts pop up, I start hunting in the scriptures for instructions so I can react better than I have in the past.
Tomorrow has come and I inspected the trees – it was painful, but I hope, will be beneficial in the long run. I thought, tree, you are a lot like me. I too need a lot of pruning. Lots of branches need to be cut back (like diet, procrastination, running on emotion, etc). I found there are several applicable parables and advice in the Bible about pruning.
Not that kind of pruning… couldn’t resist. The most well known verses are about the vine.
The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Because I was in Israel I can picture somewhat where they were walking as he told this story. We know from other passages they walked through peak season (lush vineyards) of the Kidron Valley on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus used this scenery to teach about pruning. Imagine their thoughts as they heard the story. My first thought would be oh, no – what have I missed. I’ve accepted the call to follow Christ and trust Him to care for us. Likely it was that type of insecurity that prompted Jesus to comfort them (and me, and you, later) that we are already clean and ready for useful service (verse 3). But then he wanted to take them (and me, and you) further and closer.
What a comfort that must have been to know they weren’t about to be disciplined. Instead they were being taught about bearing more fruit and putting God before ourselves! That is what I pray for (don’t we all) and then when I find out it could hurt (I mean look at the chunks that were lopped off our little tree! It’s scary, and natural to hesitate unless we remember the huge benefits of pruning from other experiences in our past walk with Christ.
As I looked at the branches that were pruned, I thought yes, I want the sunlight (SON-LIGHT) to get into my heart to enable me to bring about the abundance He wants, but I want relief too because let’s be honest, pruning brings discomfort and deep self-evaluation.
So I went back in the house asking God for help because my natural self avoids discomfort. I pondered, which do I want more – the lack of discomfort or the deeper walk, the increased fruit and John 10:10- the abundance of life Jesus wants for me…
I thought about the story of the vine and branches again and thanked God for what this season was not – that it was not discipline like the Corinthians needed, and it was not being sifted as Job and Peter experienced. Have you ever done that – thanked God for what a situation was not? I was glad I did it, because it made my next chore a great example. I had to remove dead leaves from the peace plant, so the new buds inside could receive more sunlight!
What a Great God to give me so many confirmations that He is working in me to make me more fruitful for Him.