Spring is breaking through. Cool weather again today. But the sunshine, oh the sunshine!
The gardener pulled out the pruners this afternoon. He got to trimming. And cutting. And chopping off life. Several hundred apple branches now lying lifeless on the ground.
But the thing is, I trust the gardener. He knows how the tree needs the cut for the growth he intends for it. The fruit he wants it to bear, fully round and juicy at the first crisp bite. He sees it, long before it comes. He sees it today, on pruning day.
I pick up branches, one by one. The repetitive motion and sunshine soothing me. The first outdoor work of the season. It calms me, helping the gardener grow up life in this place. To know even when everything else is questionable, this work will produce fruit.
I pause mid grasp.
These branches weren’t dead. They were very much alive. I still see the green life in them.
It is well known that when a branch dies, you have to cut it off for the health and beauty of the tree. Dead branches must be pruned. But these ones in my hands were living, not dead. And they still got cut. In the moment, I realize…
Sometimes the branches clipped are not just the dead ones that product no fruit. Sometimes you have to let the Gardener come and cut off life to bring the life abundant.
If the gardener didn’t prune this apple tree in this season, it would still produce fruit. But the health of the tree would suffer, and the fruit it made would be less than desired. The present pruning gets the tree to more life and bigger bolder fruit in due time, in the harvest season to come.
Heavenly Father, you are the Gardener of my life. Sometimes the things that seem so alive to me are the living branches that you choose to prune. Today I choose to trust that you know best and that this pruning will actually cause abundant fruit to be produced in me. Amen.
I’ll leave you with a story today, friends, that has stuck with me since I heard it told live several years ago. It’s from singer/songwriter Jason Gray in his Acoustic Storytime album. This story is called, “Getting the Good Stuff.”
I have a friend who visited a vineyard a few years back, and the proprietor of the place explained to him that they would go out in the spring and cut off the first fruit and throw it away. My friend asked him why they did that because it seemed wasteful to him. The man explained that when you go out in the spring and cut off the first fruit, the fruit that grows back is heartier; it’s bolder and more flavorful. It’s the good stuff. He said, ‘We want to get to the good stuff.’ It was a terrifying story to me as I thought of what Jesus had to say in the gospel of John when he talks about any vine that does not bear fruit will be cut off and cast away. It’s kind of hard enough for us to deal with the fact that He comes with the pruning blade and cuts off parts of our lives that don’t bear fruit. I don’t know about you, but I thought the fruit was safe. It got me wondering how many good things do I do in my life…in hopes that God will leave me alone? But He loves us to much to leave us alone and He wants to get to the good stuff. In your lives when that pruning blade comes and it hurts, and it’s difficult, we can take courage and find strength in what we know to be true: whatever God’s pruning blade cuts out of our lives does not diminish us, but in fact makes us more.
As Easter approaches this weekend, I can’t help but think that Jesus’ death on the cross was the pruning, the cutting off of life that actually brought each of us to abundant, eternal life. In celebrating the resurrection, may we each rejoice in the life He gives us, and in the abundance that is to come in future seasons from whatever present pruning He is doing. Glory to the Gardener who graciously gives generous life!