“Pruning – when you selectively remove limbs or stems from a tree or plant, removing unwanted branches, improving the plant’s structure, directing new, healthy growth.” ~somewhere on the web
We usually wait until plants go dormant to prune them, like it’s easier on the plant, taking less of their stored energy and “life?”
Anyway, I was giving my little somewhat green lovelies a cursory glance. I did a double-take! How surprised I was to see new growth appearing- some in places where I had cut back a while ago, some just on the plant new. I had expected these plants to be nearing the end of their blooming/fruit producing cycles, inching toward death, as I was seeing some browned leaves and stems. I had the cutters in hand.
Things cannot always grow properly, left unchecked.
“Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?”
It took me back to a lesson presented during a ladies’ retreat. The lesson was about the vine, the vine-dresser, pruning, and the discomfort we can feel in that process, while working toward the healthy, beautiful payoff. I realized, there is the need for intentionally looking for signs of sickness, or dead parts in a living thing, in ourselves. How, if we don’t take time, we can discount or consider things unsalvageable, or unworthy of time. We could do this to someone, and deem them a lost cause- even ourselves!
To see a plant in the throes, showing it’s tenacity- “I am still here. I am not finished. Do not give up on me, just take away what I no longer need. I will rally and give back in your efforts.”
It should make me pause.
Where is the dead in me? Will I offer rotted limbs, spoiled roots, those things taking energy to maintain, when that energy would be better spent on a newness in me? Will I bow to the snips and shears, to hands that desire to uncover the renewal lurking beneath all that is dark and shriveled in me? Am I brave enough? Am I trusting enough? Am I even interested?
It hurts to be pruned, but it also stings to be the one doing the cutting. I second guess myself in where my blade falls on a plant or tree. God, on the other hand, knows exactly what He is doing, and while I won’t decide what He’s feeling, I know He sees our pain in those moments. Will I willingly be aware of and understand God’s use of people in my life to walk with me in these moments? Am I willing to bend to God and be a useful vessel in the lives of others lost or struggling, bearing His words and directions, offering love and encouragement to return to the vine-dresser, to be examined, pruned, shaped, and rerouted in an upward direction? Can I move with grace, humility, and patience? Will I risk a relationship to move toward righteousness? Will you do that for me if I lose my footing?
Life seems long, until we are looking back at it.
When we do, let us see the burn piles that litter the path we’ve been on, marking places where we stopped growing and producing good fruit, were pruned, purging us of things holding us back from climbing and growing toward light, warmth, and love.
And pray, let those be small specks of ash, lest we feel like there was nothing good in us at all.
“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:1-6 ESV