“ . . . every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2 (NASB)
“Deeper, deeper! Blessed Holy Spirit, Take me deeper still, Till my life is wholly lost in Jesus, and His perfect will.” (Verse 3, Deeper, Deeper by C.P. Jones)
Have you ever been pruned? I have.
Did you like it? Me, neither!
At least at first.
I’m been through relational pruning, financial pruning, physical pruning, church pruning, and work pruning. In many of those situations I elevated something or someone over Him. I looked to these things, food, or people for happiness, security, and self-esteem. It’s not that I meant to. In fact, I didn’t even know I had until it was pruned away.
There were relationships where I tried so hard to please the person that I missed God’s will for my life, elevating his or her plans for me over His. I thought finances could make me feel secure, but when they were gone I found security came only from Jesus. Without realizing it I allowed church ties to dictate doctrine, and I missed some of the most beautiful truths in Scripture. Eating never filled my emotional emptiness, it only add the pain of weight gain.
When I allow my self-esteem to be tied to relationships, accomplishments, food, or stuff, I can’t live in a stable, peaceful place. The only place that is truly secure and safe is in the shadow of my Lord’s wings. Only by being firmly connected to the Vine called Jesus can I find the courage to become all God wants me to be.
Of course, I’m not saying that every loss is pruning. But, looking back on my life, many losses were. Wise pruning only cuts away what is unnecessary or impedes healthy growth. Pruning never means being cut from the Vine.
I don’t like being pruned. Yet, even as He saws away He holds tightly to me. We don’t walk through the experience alone because God’s love always remains. The Good Gardener wraps my wound and binds me to the Vine. After a while the loss hurts less because the nourishment from the Vine is flowing more strongly through me.
The cutting helps us focus more passionately on the Savior. We experience our desperate need for His nourishment. Often we turn to Him, drinking big gulps of His grace and truth instead of little sips.
Sometimes it feels like pruning means the Lord is mad or doesn’t Like who we are. It’s really the opposite. The Lord prunes only the fruitful branches.
God prunes because He likes the fruit He sees and wants more! He prunes so we can become more peaceful, secure, and strong. He prunes so we are firmly rooted in Him and have all we need to produce more fruit.
God wants is to know Him best of all and to be set free to taste the sweet depth of His love.
After the pruning we become more fruitful. Our life is more focused. Joy buds. Peace grows and blossoms. Perseverance blooms. And then we feel that solid foundation of abiding.
It feels like the arms of Jesus.
“Lord, sometimes I fight your pruning. I only see the hurt and not the plan you have for my good. I complain, whine, and cry. Sometimes I even doubt your love for me. I tell myself you don’t care. But all the while you bind my wounds and pour your nourishing love into what remains of me. Thank you that I never go through this process without your love. Give me the ability to submit to your shears and trust that You know best. I give you permission to prune away. Just hold me REAL tight. Okay?”