I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (John 15:1-4 NLT)
Early in our marriage, my husband and I realized he had no control when it came to hedge trimming. We had just bought our first home together, a fixer-upper with an unruly yard. He ran to the home improvement store—perhaps a bit too eagerly—to purchase an electric hedge trimmer. When he returned, he marched outside, wielding the whining blades to conquer overgrown bushes.
A couple hours later, he came in, triumphant. “Come and see how it looks.” Grabbing my hand, he led me out to inspect his handiwork.
As I surveyed the carnage, I shook my head and sighed. He had hacked the shrubs down to stumps that sported just a few straggling leaves. The trees he had attacked shuddered in shame—or maybe just the breeze. “Remind me never to let you cut my hair.” I wondered if our landscape could recover from his heavy hand.
The need to trim the foliage in my yard reminds me of our need for spiritual pruning. Jesus described our heavenly Father as a gardener who tends the crop of spiritual fruit in our lives. He cuts off unproductive branches and trims back healthy vines to concentrate energy for additional fruit growth.
The hedge-trimming massacre employed by my husband would decimate a crop of grapes. Vine growing requires precision and planning from a dedicated gardener. He must train vines to grow and produce abundant fruit through a years-long pruning program.
After he inspects the vines and considers the growing conditions, the vine grower creates a plan. First, he lops off any dead wood where nothing will grow. He also cuts back some of the healthy vines because the plants create more buds than it can nourish. Those branches lie dormant until a time in the future when the gardener may choose to allow them to grow.
Finally, the gardener lifts the grape vines out of the dirt and supports them on a trellis system. Strong wires stretched between posts prevent breakage of the branches under the weight of the grapes when they come to fruition.
The gardener knows exactly how to train his grape vines because he personally inspects their condition, tests their soil, and understands the climate in which they grow.
Aren’t you glad Father God applies the same attention to detail as He trains you to become holy?
No detail about you escapes Father’s notice. As your Creator, He understands every fiber of your being. He reads the motives of your heart—even the ones you don’t know yourself. Especially the one you conceal from everyone else.
With perfect precision, God examines each area of your life. He may snip out certain activities to allow something better to grow and bloom.
Father also lovingly removes the dead weight of sin from your life. His love will not allow you to be sullied by the dirt. His conviction of sin is always compassionate, never condemning.
We all need constant support to produce the good fruit God has planned for us. Father knows your specific strengths and needs and provides accordingly. He connects you, the branch, to Him through Jesus, the Vine, so you receive all the nourishment you need to exhibit the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
In what areas of your life is Father God training you? Perhaps you have resisted His care, fearful He will come at you brandishing a hedge trimmer. Don’t be afraid. He prunes with precision and care. We can trust Him to nurture us every day of our lives. All we need is a constant connection to Jesus. In His tender care, we flourish.
Father, You are my caring Master Gardener. With complete knowledge of my needs and devoted love for me, You remove anything in my life that stunts my holiness and wholeness. Supported by Your strong arms, my life can bloom for Your glory. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/FOTOKITA
Annie Yorty writes and speaks to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. She has written From Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed through Down Syndrome. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.
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Originally published Friday, 27 October 2023.