"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. 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. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." - John 15:1-9
Last Sunday at church the pastor challenged each person to begin his or her day by reading the above passage throughout the following week. Well I did manage to read it, but I was not so successful in beginning my day by reading it. More like last thing before closing my eyes at night. Sigh. I have a sneaky suspicion that it would be even more effective had I fully risen to the challenge, but alas, the late night reading was not in vain as I did manage to gain some new perspective from an old standard as far as passages in the B-I-B-L-E go.
"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."
Now I'm not gardener by any stretch of the imagination but the whole concept of pruning branches that do bear fruit really stuck out to me this week in my reading. So, in order to educate myself on the pruning process, I consulted the most reliable source on the internet, Wikipedia. Here's what I learned: Pruning is the practice of removing diseased, non-productive, or otherwise unwanted portions from a plant. (I can definitely think of times when I have been the queen of non-productivity). The purpose of pruning is to shape the plant by controlling or directing plant growth, to maintain the health of the plant, or to increase the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. Hum. Learning was taking place so I continued to read. The time period for which pruning of large branches can take place is during dormancy in winter or in mid-summer just after flowering. Lately it seems that I'm in the midst of a dormant period in my relationship with Christ. Maybe you've experienced something similar before in your lives. For me, I am not the greatest example to others, sleep is more productive than prayer, my Bible is...somewhere. Talk about a withered branch needing to be tossed. A couple of weeks ago I was completely broken. While periods of brokenness are some of the most difficult times, I was also comforted because through it, I was reassured that God is using me some way some how. The trick for me though is being ok with being used in ways that I did not plan and in ways that I may not see the final outcome . Ahem....notice the "I" in the previous sentence. One day I'll get over myself. I'm sure of it. The truth is, as God's children He is going to use us the way He sees fit and knows is best and if that requires some pretty intense pruning along the way, I think it's worth it if the result is greater amounts of sweeter fruit.