Before I begin, let me assure you I am not speaking as an expert on growing plant life. In fact, people talk about those with green thumbs and brown thumbs…well, mine are way brown. Very few plants that come to live with me survive. Though, in my defense, I do try. But while I am not an arborist or a master gardener, I have friends who are. I’ve hired such people to care for my trees. I’ve interviewed nursery workers on fertilizers and soils…and I have hope for my three little rose bushes outside. (I also have a fertilizer bag with large instructions hand-written, in black permanent marker, on the exterior of the bag by a master gardener.) There’s so much to learn. Today, while I watched workers scurry about in the tall branches of my hackberry tree, pruning branches and mistletoe, I thought of the passage about abiding in the vine from the Book of John.
“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…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.” John 15:1-2, 4-5
Jesus talks about pruning—pruning the dead limbs and pruning the limbs that bear fruit so they will bear more fruit. While it made sense to me that the dead limbs of my hackberry tree must come down, it was harder to watch the blossoming twigs and limbs fall to the grass. It seemed that bushels of new spring growth lay abandoned on my yard whilst the saws and clippers whittled away in the heights of the tree. What does this whole pruning process say about life?
Well—for one, when inviting someone in to prune your life, it best be someone like the Holy Spirit. I hunted for an arborist I would trust with my big old tree, and I paid more than I probably should have for the comfort of knowing someone with great knowledge was making the call about which branches should stay or go. Similarly, when seeking advice on how to manage my life, trim it, balance it, reshape it—my best source is the Holy Spirit of God alive and at work within me, whose whole purpose is to bring me comfort and wisdom and help mold me into the image of God. And thankfully, that same Holy Spirit can guide me to good counselors whose well-meaning advice can be confirmed and established by Scripture and the Spirit. My Heavenly Father is true and perfect and loves me the most. All this to say—I need to be careful who I let make the call about what needs pruning in my life.
More about my pruning epiphanies to come in the days ahead!