“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (John 15:1-4)
Our Arizona sun has done a number on our garden this year. What started out so healthy, green, and fruit bearing has now become brittle, yellowed, and the fruit is nowhere to be found. The severe heat of the day, despite covering the plants with shade covers, has made what should have been a very fruitful spring/summer harvest a dud. I have observed something similar in God's kids on occasion. They seem to spring up with all kinds of gusto and good intentions, then when life's heat turns up a bit, they almost wither on the vine. I am not sure what happens to them, but they usually just drift for a while and most eventually 'come back', but you can certainly see that they have been through the 'pruning process'. If we want things to grow as they should, there is always going to be this 'pruning process'. We might find it a bit harsh at times, while we barely notice it happening at others.
The truly amazing thing is not that God cares enough about us to 'save' us from wild and unhealthy growth, but that he ensures the best possible growth by ensuring we are 'grafted into' his healthy 'stock'. If we remained where some of us were planted originally, we'd just be a bundle of gangly branches with dead leaves and gangly, unyielding branches. When the 'pruning process' begins, we might feel a little 'naked' for a bit, but because of the exposure of things previously hidden under so much 'overgrown deadness', we begin to put forth new growth. New growth always seems to come from the most unlikely places within us. That may frighten some of us because we never imagined growth to be possible from those 'dead' and 'damaged' places. In God's hands, there is always the potential for new life!
The Word of God is life to those who hear it - it is also the very 'shears' that will 'prune and purify' our lives. To neglect the Word of God is to neglect a very necessary 'pruning'! Too many times we think we can get away with a little 'nip' here and there, but what we really need is a good old fashioned 'deep pruning'. We want the pruning process to be over quickly, but God's Word has a way of being there each and every time death is uncovered. When we yield to the Word of God, we are ensuring the 'graft' remains strong and vital. That strong and vital connection with God is what actually ensures not only growth, but fruit. How many of us want an unyielding garden? We want it to flourish, giving its fruit in season, and continually revealing that the gardener has 'been in attendance'. Just sayin!