“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2
In John 15, we see that God prunes those who remain in Him in order that they become more fruitful. We read this passage and understand that we are to remain in Him, but have we ever really stopped to consider what else it means? What is pruning, and why is it necessary?
By definition, to prune is to trim by cutting away the dead or overgrown, in order to increase fruitfulness and growth.* Pruning removes or reduces the parts of the plant which are no longer required or effective. By pruning, you are helping the plant conserve energy, because removing the dead branches allows the energy to be sent to the healthy stems.
This concept seems easy enough to understand, especially as the one who does the pruning. You understand what is best for the plant and can see the picture bigger of how this will allow growth. However, it may be difficult to understand the importance of pruning when we are the ones being pruned. The pruning process can be difficult when it is happening to us.
Many times I have been in India working or playing with the children and a conversation will begin from a little question. The question of “why does this happen?” It would be easy to assume that this is just a simple question coming from the mouth of a child. However, I believe that this question is asking about a deep truth. The child may ask, “Sister, I have prayed for this and nothing changes, why?” or “Sister, why do these hard things happen?” This child knows that time and energy has been put into prayer, or thought, or even action. This child is asking the same thing that we do. “Why if I spent so much time with this, is this happening?”
So I begin the conversation with the child.
Often times we work so hard to grow our “branches.” Our “branches” may be things such as a job, a relationship, or even dreams we have. We pray, seek guidance, and work hard to grow our branches and to have them flourish. We believe the energy we spend pouring into these areas of our lives will eventually grow them to be strong and healthy.
Yet sometimes, no matter how much energy, time, and effort we pour into something, it can still become unhealthy. Our work becomes draining and difficult, we are invested in toxic communities or relationships, or these things are no longer in a healthy place to grow and/or flourish. Sometimes the things we wish would happen don’t work out. The things that we have worked hard to grow are now dead and need to be pruned.
God, being the true gardener, sees all of this. So He prunes. He prunes because He knows that certain things in our lives are no longer healthy. He knows that our energy can be spent elsewhere to grow us and be used to live life to the fullest. God prunes because He can see the bigger picture. Yet we who are being pruned may not see this. We fight it, and/or find it painful because we are invested, and we have spent so much of our time working on the things that have become dead. Maybe the job that you spent years working overtime for lets you go. Maybe the relationship you gave your all for ends. We don’t understand why these things have happened. We question and we fight it. We are only seeing our branches being cut off.
This is where faith comes into play. When we are abiding in the Lord, remembering that He is the master gardener, we are given the chance to see Him at work. Yes, the pruning may hurt and be confusing, but the Lord is growing us. He is giving us the opportunity to invest in the branches that require more of our energy, the branches that will bear much fruit. He is the gardener and knows how to take care of us.
This is exactly what I explain to the child. That sometimes as much as we would like something to happen, and despite the effort we put into making it happen, God is doing something beyond what we know. Sometimes these things we pray for don’t work out. Sometimes hard things happen. But no matter what happens, in our lives or the orphan’s, God is in control, directing, guiding, and seeing over it all. Nothing goes unanswered or unheard.
*Definition found at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/pruning?s=t