The Gardener

John 15:1-5

Jesus is speaking… “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 (the Greek for “prunes” also means cleans) so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Remain in Me, and I will 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.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Why is it that when I think about being “pruned” – my natural default is a negative feeling? Why is it that our culture can’t stand to be “uncomfortable?” How have we come to see “waiting on something”  or “being uncomfortable”  or “pain” is something to be avoided at all cost?

During last Sunday’s Message the topic was “Thy Will be done…. On earth as it is in Heaven.” I was challenged to stop thinking of God’s Will in my life as a negative thing – and that really, when I am pouting or upset because something goes wrong – I am actually upset because God isn’t doing things MY WAY!  “I want You, God, to answer this prayer My Way – I want Your Will to be My Will.” ouch.

Instead, when things aren’t going my way, or the way I imagined, or when things are painful, I should change my “lens” and be thankful and excited that God’s Will in this matter will be even better than what I thought I wanted!

Same with pruning.  I have over a dozen Rose Bushes in my yard.  They are taller than me.  They look horrible this year.  Why?  Because I haven’t pruned them, I haven’t paid any attention to them really.  In the early Spring I did prune them back to about 2 feet tall, and for a while they looked gorgeous!  Since then they have bloomed and faded, bloomed and faded, bloomed and faded. Now, they are just …. Faded.  They are tall, and full, and have a lot of green leaves, but they are not producing any beautiful blooms.  There are no full, fat, pink roses that smell glorious.   I think my yellow bush from my children for mother’s day 8 years ago may be dead.   And my white JFK rose bush is not producing its magnificent white blossoms.  I used to enjoy snipping the different blooms and then marveled at who different each fragrance was, and the way the petals were shaped - if they were tightly packed, or loose and fluttery.  I haven not enjoyed them at all since this summer.

Why?  Because I haven’t pruned back the branches. All of the nutrients are being wasted on the leaves and branches that are shooting out everywhere instead of producing beautiful red blooms.

Why haven’t I?  Because it’s a HUGE job!  It requires a large scissor hedge trimmer – not electric - and  not those sweet little rose clippers that you see people in movies gingerly snipping with their cute little straw hats, white capri pants, with manicured nails, perfect hair, and powdery soft complexions.   No!  Because the stalks and branches are so thick  it requires all of my strength and grunting and groaning to prune them back far enough on each branch to do any good.  Seriously, some of the branches are now so mature and thick, it will require a chain saw! I won't be dressed in a summery outfit, my hair will be in a pony tail, my makeup will a mess, and my face and body will be profusely sweaty!  My arms will be bloody with my encounter with the thorns - no matter how careful I am.

But, if I would take the time and effort and trouble, they will be so fruitful, and the yard would burst with color and fragrances that bring much joy.  It is also hard for me, because I feel “sorry” for the branches that I chop off – especially if there happens to be a bud trying to grow – because I know the next step in this process is throwing all the branches onto a bonfire pile.  They are green right now, but after I chop them off, in a few days, they will wither and turn brown and die – because they are no longer attached to the main Bush.  But I know I must do this – in order to allow the rest of the bush to thrive – and now it is barely surviving.

Is this what it is like for us and God?  Is it painful for Him to prune me?  Does it make Him sad to say “no” to some of the things I have asked for, or paths I have been heading down?  He knows He must prune and clean, and say “no” and redirect me  - so that His Will can be done in my life – so that I can be fruitful for Him.  Otherwise, parts of my life will rob all of the nutrients from the main purpose I am here, and pretty soon I will not produce what He has in mind for me on this earth.  And before you know it, I will be struggling to just “survive” instead of “Thrive.”

“Thank You Lord for Your Word in the Lord’s Prayer.  Thank You for re-teaching me about Your Will being done in me on earth as it is in heaven.  Help me to rejoice and thank You when You prune me.  Help me to see it as a good thing – instead of pouting like a child.  I want to Bloom Gloriously for You – even though the pruning may be painful.  Thank You for being such a  good Father – and Gardener!”  Amen.