“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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
When Tim and I were in Croatia we lived in a house that had a yard in front, over the yard there were these wonderful grape vines. The purpose of the vines was not to grow grapes to eat, it was to create a canopy for shade during the summer months. Those vines were beautiful and healthy, they grew so thick that there was a solid canopy of vines and leaves and were very effective as a shade from the sun. Every fall though, the man who owned our apartment would come and prune back the vines (well, after the first year he made Tim do it). I was always amazed at how much he cut back; he seemed ruthless, the beautiful foliage that had been was reduced to bare, naked vines, devoid of any leaves or branches. I would sometimes question our landlord’s wisdom; why did he prune so deep? Was it really necessary to cut so much away? However, our landlord was a much more experienced gardener than I am, and sure enough, every spring we would see the sign of new leaves and branches, and soon our beautiful canopy was again providing lovely shade from that hot summer sun.
Recently, I’ve been considering Jesus’ statement that He is the vine, and we are the branches. Not only that, but His Father is the vinedresser, and as the vinedresser He lovingly prunes those branches, whenever they need pruning. Somehow, I am surprised whenever I find myself in a season of pruning. I am surprised at myself; how am I, an experienced Christian still in need of such intense pruning? I am surprised at the Lord sometimes; how can He allow me to go through such hard seasons? Why is He allowing these things in my life? As I find myself asking these questions I have to go back to this portion of scripture; “every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” As I’ve grown in my experience with the Lord I have come to realize that I will hopefully never get to the point that He is no longer pruning me. Just as those vines in my yard needed thorough pruning every season, the Lord cares enough for us to make sure that we receive pruning regularly. I never want to find myself in a place where the discomfort of a season causes me to reject the loving care of my Gardener.
The author of Hebrews puts it this way; “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” As we walk with the Lord, we will find ourselves sometimes in a place of barrenness, or maybe feel like we’ve been stripped down to nothing; I pray that we all learn to yield to our heavenly Gardener, He really does know what He is doing, and afterward we will always experience the abundance of fruitfulness that comes from the care of the Master Gardener.