In John chapter 15, Jesus told us “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
As someone who has a love for gardening, this passage has held special meaning for me in the last few years. God frequently meets me in my garden, planting seeds of truth and love in my heart.
A few summers ago, my friend Will taught me how to prune a tomato plant. His system was to look at the plant, and in every spot where the vines branch into a “Y”, take some pruning shears and snip off the branch, so that only the original vine remains. Initially, this felt a bit harsh to me but I thought I’d give it a try this year. The results were well worth the effort, when I found myself with more tomatoes than I ever had before.
Conversely, my pumpkin plant right beside the tomatoes produced no fruit at all, because I had forgotten to prune that plant as it grew. There were a lot of vines, and even a few flowers, but not one single pumpkin on the plant! Without some pruning to this plant, all of its energy went into growing vines, resulting in nothing being left for the actual fruit. While the vines were lovely and green, the purpose of a pumpkin plant isn’t solely to produce vines; the purpose is to produce pumpkins!
If I am not being pruned back by the Good Gardener, it may look as though I have a lot of growth in my life, but I may not be producing any fruit. I can spend hours each day reading my bible, but if I am only doing this as a duty and not abiding in the presence of Jesus, it will come out hollow and meaningless.
There are times when it feels like there is nothing happening, but there is always something growing under the surface. One needs to put down roots in order to grow. Others might not be able to see the roots we are putting down in our walk with God, but they are present, feeding us and preparing us to grow. Just as a plant needs to put down roots to flourish, we need to take part in spiritual disciplines in order to produce fruit.
A garden, like one’s walk with God needs constant tending in order to see fruit as the end result. If I am not willing to put in the time to nurture, water, weed and prune my garden, it might look like there is great things happening, but in the end, there will be very little to show for it. It may feel like a lot of work initially, but it is well worth the effort when one sees the beauty that comes from all the hard work.
Thoughts to ponder this week
- What weeds do I need to pull out of my life to leave room for the fruit to grow?
- What do I need to prune (or fine tune) in my life and ministry to send my energy in the right direction?
- What is a spiritual discipline that I want to practice this week to help deepen my spiritual roots? (Prayer Examen, Lectio Divina, Solitude, Worship