John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch 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 for greater faithfulness 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 apart from me.”
The vine on my mailbox has been pruned to the ground. The support trellis is still there but nothing is growing on it. I had been thinking it needed pruning, it had many dead branches choking out the little bit of greenery left. Last summer it displayed less blooms than anytime since it was planted, and that was some twenty years ago. It needs fertilizing and tending by my gardener if it is too return to usefulness and beauty.
To be honest, that plant has always been a source of disappointment to me. I thought I was getting a big blooming, purple Clematis, one of the first signs of spring. Instead, it was a tiny bloom white star plant that bloomed only in August. A landscaper made a mistake in installation, and we just went along with it..
Reading today’s scripture I could not help but think of my vine. It needed to be cut back for many reasons, one being it hid the house number on the pole in case of an emergency that could have been a problem.. Then, it was not growing, not producing just like we read in the scripture. We are like that. Sometimes we need a good pruning to be rid of the old dead wood, that keeps us from being all we can be in the Father’s kingdom.. That pruning is never pleasant, it hurts. It can take many forms. God uses our circumstances sometimes to do a work in us. Loss of loved ones, health issues, loneliness, problems in relationships, nothing is wasted with our God. I think He allows and uses the normal circumstances of our lives to shape us into His image and usefulness in the Kingdom.. Sometimes we see things about ourselves that disappoint us, just as I have been disappointed about my plant.
I know God is teaching me many things right now. I know He will not waste any experience I have come my way, if I am faithful to His word and keep myself in His care. If I keep praising Him despite the situation, as one of my favorite song says, ” I can praise the pain away.” He is with me. He is fertilizing me with His Holy Spirit, and His word, as I sit in His presence. He is watering me with Living Water. He has provided a support trellis of church family and friends for me, that I cling to, who will help me grow and be useful and support me though this drastic pruning time.
Yes, the pruning is severe on my mailbox plant and in my life, but the outcome is going to be more fruitfulness, more usefulness, as I share my experiences with others. I would not have chosen this growth pattern for myself, but I know God will not waste anything that happens in my life. That’s God’s Good News and for that promise I give Him praise. How about you?