Prun­ing and trim­ming


ONE OF MY MOST PLEAS­ANT CHILD­HOOD MEM­O­RIES is ly­ing on the bench be­neath Grandma's grape ar­bor on a hot sum­mer day and munch­ing on fresh grapes. Years later, when I was mov­ing to a vine­yard in Italy, I en­vi­sioned many comfy benches to lie on. To my shock, we ar­rived to what looked like bar­ren fields. Only the tini­est stub­bly heads ap­peared above the roots. It was ex­plained to me that the vines were cut back to the ground each year af­ter the har­vest to in­crease their yield. It wasn't a pretty sight, but it was a fruit­ful field.

When the grow­ing sea­son be­gan, I was amazed at how quickly the roots gave birth to new vines be­neath the warm Tus­can sun. Their ten­drils reached out quickly through the fields, and where there had been bar­ren earth, sud­denly there was lush new growth and green grapes that would pro­duce won­der­ful wine.

As I re­mem­ber Tus­cany, John 15 comes to mind: “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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”1

I am a very poor gar­dener be­cause I hate to prune my plants. I let my rose bushes grow to un­gainly heights. I shoo away ev­ery tree trim­mer who comes to the door want­ing to trim our trees. I let my peren­ni­als grow wild. I like the ru­n­away growth of liv­ing things and don't like to be the judge of what to cut.

But it is pretty clear in John 15 that God knows about vine trim­ming. If we don't bear fruit, He cuts. When we do bear fruit, He prunes. Ei­ther way, He takes ac­tion.

There are times the rug gets ripped out from un­der us, and He's all we have left to stand on. The un­ex­pected knocks us for a loop; tragedy, ill­ness, be­trayal or fail­ure give us a sucker punch, and we feel all of those beau­ti­ful leafy branches be­ing ripped away, un­til all that is left is a stub­bly, chopped-up root in some seem­ingly bar­ren ground.

But then, the time is right. The sun shines down. Rain falls. We re­al­ize that we have all we need in Him, and the mir­a­cle of new life and growth be­gins.

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