I don’t do much yard work these days, but occasionally, I love getting out and digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, pruning bushes, and spreading mulch. It’s therapeutic!
Sometimes, my ivy spreads too far, and, and I have to rip it from what I call the “mother vine.” Cutting off its lifeline and casting it in the yard debris pile prevents further spread… but, of course, the cut vine dies.
It’s the same with pruning.
My lone azalea bush was nearly lost to a rare coastal blizzard a few years ago. Ice and snow badly bent it, and I was certain I’d have to uproot it. Instead, I pruned it way back, as in pretty much lopping off every branch; and I am happy to report that this year it bounced back in its full glory, dotted in beautiful white azaleas!
I’ve thought alot about these yard adventures in the past few weeks, as I’ve been parked in the 15th chapter of John’s gospel, where the disciple writes about the vine and the branches. Read John 15: 1-8 for yourself, and ask yourself the following three questions:
- How are you remaining in God? What does that look like in your life?
- How is God pruning you right now?
- Is the fruit you are producing glorifying God?
For me, remaining in God involves being completely transparent with Him in my prayers (He knows me better than I know myself anyway, so I may as well own my good, bad, and ugly.) I dive into His Word–my “plasma”– and encounter Him everyday on my yoga mat. Attending worship each week and taking His body into mine greatly helps me remain in Him.
And joining fellow Christians in conversation and prayer is a big plus, too.
Let’s just say I think God has pruned me more in these past four years or so than ever in my life… a pretty bold statement considering some of the storms I’ve had to navigate in my life. I won’t get into specifics, but I will say I’ve shed many tears, been on my knees more than ever in my life, and have felt my heart literally hurt at times.
But… I always ask these questions: How have I grown in these challenges? What have I learned about myself? What have I learned about God, and how did these situations help me become more dependent on Him?
Then there’s that fruit that glorifies Him… ouch!
I honestly try to produce good fruit through encouraging others, but like pretty much everyone, I can grow some nasty, rotten fruit. That pruning I mentioned earlier? It does help to chop off the bad fruit, so while trials and challenges are hard, we can come through them as much better people who DO generate bountiful, glorious fruit!
Take some time today to read John 15:1-8, and consider how you are remaining connected to the Vine (Jesus), how God has pruned and is pruning you, and the type of fruit you are producing.
Trust me: I can be rotten to the core, but I daily dig deep to stay attached to Him, open myself to His pruning, and pray for a healthier growth of fruit!
I hope you will, too.
Amy Walton is a multi-certified Christian life coach and grief coach, author, speaker, and Holy Yoga instructor and ambassador currently living in coastal Virginia. She eats good fruit on a daily basis and continually tries to produce her own in the midst of her gifts of snarkiness and making up nicknames (at least she’s aware of her rotten fruit!). Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.