“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. I am the vine you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” (John 15:1-2, John15:5)
It hasn’t been very long since I went through my first horrible pruning season as a Christian. And let me just tell you pruning season stinks. It lasted a long time too. Pruning is always hard. I really hate it. Looking back you see the growth but in the midst of it… it’s just hard. And I don’t know if you’ve felt like this but sometimes during the pruning seasons of our lives God feels absent. You’re going through all these really hard life experiences and it just feels like God isn’t there at all. I have found myself screaming at the sky trying to figure out where God went and why he left me. (FYI he actually doesn’t leave you, just felt I needed to throw that in there.)
About a year and a half ago started the toughest pruning season I’ve ever been through so far. God called me to do something that was way outside of my comfort zone. In order to do what God wanted me to do I had to quit a good job, sell my beautiful truck and move 600 miles away from home. Pruning always seems to involve some kind of loss. The job and the truck were just the beginning. Over the course of the last year and a half I have lost almost everything, but here’s the really important part. I gained more than I lost.
If we really break down this analogy of the vine and the fruit we will get a much better understanding of what Jesus is trying to say here. Let’s put it into real terms. Let’s say you have a rose bush. You’ve had this rose bush for a while, it’s growing, it’s producing flowers but… they seem a little sparse and the bush isn’t very full. The best thing for the rose bush is to be cut back (pruned) so that it will grow fuller and make more roses and be more beautiful than it already is. I always have a hard time with pruning because I don’t want to cut off the current flowers that have blossomed but if I do the gain is so much more than what the bush loses.
So let’s put into perspective of our own lives. As Christians we go through these periods of pruning. It hurts and it’s hard but here’s the really important thing that you must remember during these times, he doesn’t prune the unfruitful. I’m going to say that again. He doesn’t prune the unfruitful, so if you’re going through a season where things are just being taken from you left and right and you are suffering just remember that you are being pruned because you have been doing well, you have been fruitful, you have been growing! He’ll take those things from you, but afterwards you will be in a new place of growth that you probably never thought you would get to.
I remember being in church a while back and looking around at all the people and thinking “man, they’ve got it together. I wish I could be as good a Christian as them.” Be careful what you wish for, because what you said was “God I want to be a better Christian. I want to serve you and love you and know you more.” What he heard was “Break me, shape me, mold me and throw me in the kiln to make me stronger.” “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.” (Hebrews 12:11) In other words, it hurts but afterward it’s going to be amazing.
God always prunes the ones that he loves. If you don’t believe me go ask Moses, Joseph, Job, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Go ask Lazarus.
I really like the way the message puts this. “My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)
Oftentimes when we are going through hardships we are discouraged and downtrodden, but we don’t have to be. I know that’s one of those things that are easy to say and harder to do but really we can be encouraged when we are being pruned. It’s like getting a promotion. I don’t know if you ever played Mario but it’s like at the end of a world and you have to beat the castle to get to the next world. The castle is always really hard to get through but the next level is SO much cooler than the last. He prunes the ones that are being fruitful. You’re doing the work. You’re going where he’s leading you! He’s pruning you because you have been obedient and mindful of him! You have been growing in him! Take heart! You’re doing well.
I had intended on saying more but I think I will just end with this. This is my life verse. I have had a great many hardships throughout my life and this is the verse that keeps me alive and keeps me encouraged. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts, is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:2-3)
Pruning Season Stinks| written by: Jaime Meeks