Wow! Do I love to be corrected. I enjoy having my spiritual myopia pointed out. My patterns of sin exposed. It is amazing!
Just like eating brussel sprouts or going shopping for jeans or cleaning the green liquidy stuff from the back of the refrigerator is a-ma-zing.
As children of God, along with blessing and resurrection power comes the responsibility to become like Christ–you know, the One Who left all the awesomeness of Heaven so He could take on the form of a bondservant and touch lepers and hang out with prostitutes and be taunted by religious types–to be obedient to the point of the cross? Yes, Him. That’s pretty much our business model.
John paints it this way:
John 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
To the original hearers, this presented a shift–Jesus Christ, not the Old Covenant under the Law, is the True Vine. All those who claim Him as the Messiah are branches. God the Father tends the True Vine as the Vinedresser.
Yet, it also requires that if you are going to be a follower of this True Vine, you must live in Him. And, one of the surest signs of living, immersing yourself in Him is a life which bears an increasing amount of fruit.
Left on their own, vine branches harbor disease and grow spindly, then die. They head off in wrong directions. God’s good nature is to prevent that. But, sometimes it hurts.
We are pruned.
Pruning can be one of those concepts tossed around in church settings, left to float in some spiritual atmosphere where real people don’t exist.
But, trust me, pruning is real. It has practical applications, and it really does lead to more fruit.
Here are a few things I have learned along the way…
What I mistook for drowning was a season of pruning. It felt like a burden. Personal circumstances made me feel backed into a corner. The words mentors gave me stung. The habits God asked me to confront were embarrassing.
If we are to abide in Him, we hold on anyway. Hebrews 12:11 says “ Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
His snips are precise. His removal is on purpose. There is peace and righteousness for those who are willing to be trained. Every bit of correction coming in the form of godly people pouring into you, worship songs which pop up in your feed, every scripture which comes to mind, even events which seem to be coincidental can be a deliberate part of your pruning. Switch your mindset. You aren’t drowning. You are becoming.
In order for pruning to be effective, we must be real. We have to participate from a place of authenticity. No faking it when God gives you direction. I learned this the hard way.
There is an artificial, religious way to repent. The one where you say it but don’t mean it. God showed me the areas which needed to go. However, I justified my bitterness. Ever tried repenting while still holding onto bitterness? Yep. It doesn’t work. If I’m abiding in Him, if the Vinedresser says it’s time to be pruned of a mindset or habit or blessing that has spun way out of control or a hindrance which could be blocking your fruitfulness– wisdom is to let go and yield to His direction. Take what other godly people say seriously instead of being offended. Stop talking. Better to be quiet than a faker when it comes to repenting.
For me, I just gave up and stood still.
Then something powerful happened.
I was led to a place of godly sorrow. God didn’t just prune the sin, He removed the hurt that led to the sin. He shone a light on the painful memories which created habits which tended to cycle back around.
There was a burden I was carrying–it was a board in my eye. And God wanted it out of my life so that I could bear the fruit of the Spirit, especially loving others as self. Pruning is not about punishment. It is about setting you free.
A sweet friend declared that pruning makes a Christian more aerodynamic. I agree. The rest of John 15 attests to this. Pruning is to make you more effective. With less baggage, you can soar and roar!
John 15:3-8 says His word planted in you helps you love and abide in Him. It also says that a cleansed and pruned Christian can confidently go to the Father and ask for whatever they want in Jesus’ name and receive it. This is possible for the pruned person, because what they ask for in Jesus name comes from a heart which has been carefully sculpted to desire the things that line up with His will.
If you are in a season of pruning, be encouraged that God loves you. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you.Getting real with sin patterns is the green smoothie of spiritual discipline–for most of us, it doesn’t look so pretty, but it gets results.
Dare I say…Happy pruning. Happy Spiritual workout.Happy submitting and yielding to the God Who loves you. May you be a fruitful branch and may hurting people who don’t know Jesus feast on what the Vinedresser does through you!
P.S. If you are finding yourself in need of prayer this season, please reach out in the comment section. Happy to join with you in lifting you up to Jesus.