I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. (Luke 15:1-2, CSB)
My family and I grow some of our own produce in the backyard. My husband has the greener thumb and is in charge of our seasonal vegetables. I love fruit and insisted on raspberry and blueberry bushes so that is my domain. I am always uncertain about how best to care for the bushes to stimulate growth for them to produce good fruit. I have come to rely on the experts available online who are very knowledgeable about berry bushes and my area of the country to tell me when and how to best care for my plants.
One of the activities that I struggle with most is pruning. Pruning removes parts of the plants in order to stimulate growth and fruit production, get rid of dead or diseased limbs, and control or redirect the growth of the plant. I want the bushes to stay healthy for a long time, but I’m afraid of not doing it right and ruining my chances for berries. In the first couple of years, it is encouraged to cut off some or all of the parts that will blossom to encourage plant growth and establishment rather than berry production. It seems counterintuitive to remove the newest growth, but I have to trust that more knowledgeable and experienced people know what’s best.
Having some experience as a gardener and the pruning process, I better understand when Jesus talks about himself as a vine, God as the gardener, and us as branches. Our gardener knows what is best for us and has the greatest good in mind. He wants us to be productive and for works in our lives to help us become fruitful. Sometimes that means allowing some trials or adversity in our lives to make us hardier.
When a plant is pruned, it has to seek nourishment from the main stalk. It has to recover from the struggle of being pruned and its wound has to heal so that a stronger branch can begin to grow from the area. When we face trials, we are supposed to seek our sustenance and strength from Jesus. If we try to rely on our own strength, we will falter because our attempt at self-reliance has been exposed as undependable. Only God will never fail us. He desires for us to be reminded of his constancy and faithfulness and use that as our source of strength.
Read the rest of this post over at The Glorious Table!